The 25th annual Tri-for-Fun Triathlon Series kicks off this weekend with close to 1,000 triathletes expected Saturday to swim, run and bike the lake and rolling hills of Shadow Cliff Park and the flat paved roads running through Pleasanton and Livermore. The series includes three Tri-For-Fun triathlons throughout the summer then ends with the Tri-For-Real competition in September.
The Tri-For-Fun features a 400-yard swim; an 11-mile bike; and a 3.1-mile run and is touted as a perfect course for newcomers as well as seasoned triathletes. Last year, the youngest and oldest participants recorded were a 6-year-old and a 78-year-old.
Although the Tri-For-Fun triathlons do not offer prizes, a digital timing clock allows participants to check on their times.
"We have made so many wonderful friends through the years because of the Tri-For-Fun," said Mark Aiton, co-principal of On Your Mark Events, which runs the event. "There are now literally thousands of people who cut their triathlon teeth with the Tri-For-Fun, and they keep coming back, as well as take part with our other longer-distance triathlons."
Aiton had been involved from the beginning and said the events have been perhaps the most fun he has even had.
"Twenty-five years ago, I stood on a picnic table, using a megaphone to talk to 28 competitors and an additional seven volunteers" Aiton said. , co-principal of On Your Mark Events, which runs the event. "It wasn't until the 1992 season that I was thinking, 'Wow, we're five years old ... Then I turned around, and it has been 25 years."
Many of the tri-athletes work out with Bay Area gyms, such as YMCA's, and a number are Team in Training groups. Throughout the season series, at least 60% of all the participants will be beginners.
The Tri-For Real event is held at the same location but the distances are increased to a 700-yard swim, a 20-mile bike, and a 4-mile run. The Tri-For-Real is also professionally timed, giving official results.
Many veteran triathletes say the Tri-For-Fun Series provides the ultimate training and practice session for longer-distance triathlons. This group is always sent out in the "first wave," so they can jump way ahead of the less-experienced.
The 2012 On Your Mark Tri-For-Fun Series dates are June 16, July 21 and Aug. 18; Tri-For-Real will be held Sept. 16. Check-in begins at 5 a.m., and all races start at 7 a.m., at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area, 2500 Stanley Blvd., Pleasanton. There is a 1,000-participant maximum for each triathlon and organizers noted that the triathlons do sell out.
Entry fee for the three Tri-For-Funs is $65 in advance, and $75 to register the day of. Participants receive a commemorative T-shirt, refreshments, snacks and entry into a drawing. Tri-For-Real is $75 advance, and $85 the day of. Multiple-triathlon discounts areavailable.
For more information about the Tri-For-Fun Triathlon Series, contact On Your Mark Events at 209-795-7832 or visit their website.