PALO — Swimming, running, and biking.
For most of us, these three activities represent exercise done on three separate days. For the ultra-fit among us, this represents a combined 18.9-mile challenge to be undertaken within a couple of hours.
Enter the Pigman Triathlon. The race consists of a 0.3 mile (0.5 kilometer) out-and-back swim; 15.5 mile (25 kilometer) bike ride, and to cap it off, a 3.1 mile (5 kilometer) run. Over 500 entrants participated on a sunny, albeit windy, Sunday morning.
“I’ve been doing this event for 20-some years,” Cedar Rapids native Barry Breffle said. “They put on a professional, top-notch event here. It’s grown over the years and improved with some little things here and there.”
The lake and beach at Palo finished up a renovation last year that improved the beach and added protection against erosion.
“The last few years with the lake situation has been a little rough,” Breffle said. “It’s nice to see the event do well and survive through that.”
Now in its 27th year, the Sprint Triathlon is a stop along the Heart of America Triathlon series, which encompasses eight triathlons throughout the state of Iowa. This season, the USA Triathlon committee selected the Pigman Triathlon to be the official Iowa High School State Championship.
“I think this is a great event,” Cedar Rapids Washington student Quintin Gay said. “It’s great to see USA Triathlon push out more events and try to get more young people involved in the sport.”
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This designation allows students entering grades 9=12 to enter the competition to compete against other high school students at the same level. Students don’t compete under their respective schools, but they do enjoy support from the wider community.
“I was getting tired in that last mile of the run,” Gay said. “But I knew I was getting close and I wanted to do the best I could, so that pushed me through.”
A sprint triathlon such as the Pigman takes some serious training. Gay committed at least two hours per week to each of the three components. Breffle competes in the Ironman series, which is a daylong competition. Rachel Stadlen said that the key to training for her was to take it seriously, but not too seriously.
“I started training for the Pigman back in March,” Stadlen said. “I trained a couple of days a week with friends, which helps make it fun.
“Staying diligent and going out every day and training, no matter what is what helped me the most. Just do the best that you can and have fun with it.”