A steady stream of triathletes made their way to the Sheraton in South Burlington Friday to pick up their race packets in preparation for Saturday's main event.
"So tomorrow, Saturday, is the long distance. It's a .9 swim, 25-mile bike and a 6.2 run, then the sprint triathlon on Sunday is about 750 yards swim, then 12.5 bike then a 3.1 run, so it's basically half the distance," said Rayne Herzog, the race director.
The swimming portion starts at Oakledge Park and ends at the boat ramp by the Coast Guard station. That is followed by the cycling course which takes riders on a loop course through Burlington, South Burlington, Shelburne and Charlotte. The race concludes with a run from Oakledge Park along the Burlington Waterfront on the Burlington bike path.
We met up with a team from California trying out the course. And Dean Siedlecki drove a long way, too, from Maryland. He participated last year. A positive experience that brought him back to the Green Mountain State.
"It is very supportive this area. The support of the community is tremendous. Vermont opens its arms to the triathletes," Siedlecki said.
He figures he will spend a few hundred dollars over the weekend. And that is pretty typical.
"Yeah, a lot of people are eating here, they are lodging here, they are shopping at local stores. Last year they figured they raised about $4 million to $5 million in revenue coming in for this event," Herzog said.
The Skirack has been preparing for this race for months. Some athletes shipped their bikes to the shop ahead of time, so they could be assembled and ready for the racers this week for practice. They will then take the bikes apart, repack them and ship them back.
"We charge $150 to build it, store the box, rebuild it and get them all out by Monday evening. So, it's a challenge," said Spike Clayton of the Skirack.
Skirack also has a booth at the Sheraton to help with repairs and will have a crew on the Burlington Waterfront for last-minute repairs. Clayton says everyone is working overtime, same with the police. Burlington police say extra officers will be on duty both Saturday and Sunday to help direct traffic and the athletes.
"We have officers on hand as well as the security staff that remain vigilant that nothing happens," Burlington Police Sgt. John Young said.
But if you plan on driving in Burlington Saturday, you should expect delays.
The triathlon gets under way Saturday at 7:30 a.m. The course will close at about 1 p.m.
And even though Sunday's event is going to be half the distance of Saturday's race, it will be intense. Athletes will be pushing hard to scramble through the course just as fast as they can. The athletes are incredibly dedicated-- they call this the tri-sport lifestyle.
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