CHELAN — It was a spectacular weekend for the annual Chelan Man Triathlon this past Saturday and Sunday in Chelan. For starters, the weather was absolutely perfect to welcome 1,600 racers.
“The weather could not have been better. That is a great predictor for a great race. Not having heat issues, like dehydration. That was really limited. It was a really nice crowd. It was just fantastic,” said Race Director Julie Pittsinger.
They had a great turnout of volunteers for the race. Chelan Man Board member Tara Elsner said they had over 300 volunteers.
“We had tons of volunteers. We had great energy on the racecourse with our volunteers. It is a ton of kids who have grown up with Chelan Man. They moved away, come back and volunteer. Everything just went really smoothly,” Elsner said.
The turnout of 1,600 is about average over the past four years, Elsner said. The racers come from all over, Washington state, Oregon, B.C. Canada. They also had groups from Philadelphia, Georgia, and Florida.
After doing the race for 12 years, Elsner said everything went really smoothly. Their biggest challenge is making sure the swim course is safe. In the water, they had 25 kayakers, 10 stand up paddle boarders, and numerous lifeguards.
“We always want to make sure it is extremely safe. Our swim course director does a great job with the buoys and underwater buoy line,” Elsner said. “We have a kayak coordinator. She said we had more kayak volunteers than ever. We always want to make sure our water support is really strong.”
There are several races for any type of competitor. The Long course includes a 1900 meter swim at Lakeside Park, 58.1 miles bike ride and a 13.1-mile run that starts and ends at Lakeside Park.
The Olympic Triathlon is 1500 meter swim, 24.8 mile bike ride, and 10k run. There is a Sprint Triathlon and Try-a-Tri which includes a 400-meter swim, 13.1-mile bike ride, and 5k run. There is a Youth Triathlon for ages 11-15 and Splash-n-Dash for younger kids.
As you can imagine, there are some pretty incredible stories.
“We had a father do the Olympic course with his son, who has some physical challenges. He pulled his son in a kayak for the swim. Pushed him in some kind of setup on the run. I did not see his bike setup. He carried his son throughout the race,” Elsner said.
There was also a woman and her 18-year old autistic son.
“He had done other triathlons. They signed up together, but she told him to do it on his own. He did it on his own. It was amazing,” Elsner said. “Those are the kinds of things that inspire us.”
Pittsinger is the owner of Karma Vineyards in Chelan. She held volunteer dinner on Sunday night after the race. About half of them attended, she said.
As the Race Director, Pittsinger does all the organization and permitting for the race.
“We didn’t have any problems at all. The city, emergency folks, flaggers, lifeguards, security. Everybody just did a stellar job,” Pittsinger said. “I’m a certified Race Director through USA Triathlon. They are our sanctioning entity, so they provide all the liability coverage.”
Pittsinger said there are many racers that come back year after year. Annually, they get about 25 percent new racers.
“The feedback is overwhelmingly positive. We’re really thrilled. It all comes back to the volunteers and hospitality,” Pittsinger said.
The profits from the race go back into the community through the Lake Chelan Multisport Foundation. The mission of the Lake Chelan Multisport Foundation is to embrace healthy lifestyles through the support of arts, literature, science, and wellness programs for youth in the Chelan Valley.
Some of the youth programs supported include Lake Chelan Swim (free swim lessons for youth), Manson Cross Country, Chelan Elementary School (MOE): Yoga for Kids program, Chelan Project (Chelan High School outdoors and community club), Thrive Chelan (mentoring program), Todos United Club (Chelan High School), Missoula Children's Theater at Chelan Elementary School, Lake Chelan Bach Fest: Children's Program, Chelan Schools Back-To-School Fair, ESL program for second graders at Morgen Owings Elementary School and Lake Chelan Arts Council.
“We’re all volunteers. We pay for safety things and food. All of us board members are volunteers. We donate profits to local youth programs,” Elsner said. “We just write checks all year. People send us requests.”