By ROGER BROUGH
For the first time in its five-year history, the Provo Triathlon will offer a collegiate division, drawing collegiate athletes from around the state.
Saturday’s race will be the sprint format, which is half the distance of the Olympic Triathlon distance, due to flooding and construction in and around Utah Lake State Park. The sprint format is also in reverse order from the Olympic format, with a swim of 750 meters, 12.2 mile bike ride and 5k run.
“Balancing all three sports is a difficulty, but more specifically it’s balancing the endurance workouts in each one,” said Grant Lerdahl, a senior from Bountiful studying business management. “Bike and run balance is big, since it’s longest and mostly lower body. Balancing intensities and endurance for biking and running in particular is difficult to achieve.”
Lerdahl is one of many BYU students competing in the Provo Triathlon. Provo native Jon Kemp, majoring in physiology and development biology, said he loves to compete in triathlons because of the different sports he gets to incorporate into his workout regimen.
“Trying to fit in three different types of training in a week, it’s tough,” Kemp said. “There’s a lot of things that can go wrong, so you want to be ready so you can perform your best. It’s not just a race where you go and run. All three elements make it difficult, and you need lots of tools to help you succeed.”
This will be one of the most spectator-friendly courses in Utah with a four-lap bike course. Orem police and the Orem Fitness Center’s lifeguards will be on hand to help with safety and traffic control. Approximately 150-170 athletes will participate this year.
Preparation is essential in competing in triathlons, as many athletes must push their bodies to perform at their best for an extended period of time.
“There are different points in the race where preparation is crucial. One is at the start of the swim, with 100 people around you punching and clawing for the lead, not caring for your safety,” Kemp said. “Your heart rate goes up and if you’re not ready for that and keep calm, you won’t be able to stay focused. You have to get used to running on legs that feel like rubber and just trust they’ll come back to you as you continue to run.”
The annual Provo Triathlon will begin Saturday morning at 7 a.m. at Utah Lake State Park. To register, visitwww.provotri.com or www.t3triathlon.com. Medals will be awarded to the top three finishers in each age group and relay winners. There will be prizes for overall winners and random drawings for prizes as well.