It's time to triathlon

Last year, in its fifth annual go-around, the Whidbey Island Triathlon filled up early.

This year, the popular little race promises to be packed out even earlier. On August 3, a field of 250 people will dive into Lone Lake to begin an entire morning of swimming, biking and running just to earn the title of “triathlete.”

Most of those people will do the half mile of swimming, 20 miles of biking and nearly four miles of running by themselves. A few others will enlist two of their most athletic buddies to help them a team effort.

Either way, it’s going to be tough.

Unlike many triathlons, the Whidbey Island Triathlon is a truly local event. This year, two-time defending champion, Langley’s Peter Oakley, will be back with three or four other South Whidbey athletes who have a shot at taking the title. But most of the people who participate will be there just to finish, just to be able to say “I did it.”

“People like to come because it’s a sprint, not a big long race,” said Linda Kast, officer manager for the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District. “It has a reputation for being a good race to start with if someone has not competed in a triathlon before. A lot of people think we have a great setting here and that it’s well organized. It’s a positive atmosphere,”

For those who don’t know, triathlon is a sport that combines three other sports in one race: swimming, biking and running. Some consider this type of race to be the true test of an endurance athlete.

The Whidbey Island Triathlon begins with an 800-yard swim race in Langley’s Lone Lake, after which competitors bike 19.6 hilly miles along Lone Lake, Saratoga, Brooks Hill and Andreason roads. Last, they move into the running segment at the South Whidbey Community Park. The foot race covers 3.8 trail and road miles, finishing in the park.

For most, the event takes about two hours time to complete. Afterwards, at the awards ceremony, custom-designed medals especially for the Whidbey Island Triathlon will be presented to the race’s top three participants in each of the three racing divisions: men, women, and the Orca division, which is for larger men and women.

The race has quite a loyal following, Kast said. Registration filled up one week before the event last year. Participants come from as far away as British Columbia, England and San Francisco. Most participants are from Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Snohomish, and Whidbey Island.

“We get a really good turnout,” Kast said.

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