Known as the oldest triathlon in the state of Minnesota, the 35th annual Timberman Triathlon will be conducted Saturday, July 13.
Conducted on the grounds of Sugar Lake Lodge, the Timberman is well-regarded by triathletes from all over, according to Amy Dettmer, who is managing the race along with husband Alan.
“The Timberman is the oldest triathlon in the state of Minnesota so we get competitors from all over the state, and we also have a great contingent of Canadians that come down,” Dettmer said. “People have been coming for years; we have some people who have been coming for 20 years and they keep coming because they love the race.
And, the venue is amazing at Sugar Lake Lodge. It is just a really cool vibe standing on the beach and on the hill there on Sugar Lake Lodge watching the competitors.”
Dettmer said there will be about 325 athletes competing on July 13, including both teams and individuals. She said top triathletes who have competed in the race in the past are expected to be back this year.
There will be three categories of participants in the Timberman. In the Super Sprint Division, athletes will swim 264 yards (0.15 miles), bike 5.5 miles and then run 1.5 miles. The division is perfect for the first timers or younger athletes looking for a shorter race.
In the Sprint Division, athletes will swim one-third of a mile, bike 11 miles and then run three miles.
The top athletes will compete in the International Division where athletes will swim one mile, bike 25 miles and finish it off with a six-mile run.
Two-or-three-person teams also will compete in the race in the Sprint and International races. The event is timed by JMS Racing Services.
The triathlon begins at 8 a.m. with starting times of the various classes of competitors being run until 8:40 a.m.
According to the Timberman site on the Internet, the first Timberman Triathlon was organized by John McCoy, a forester for Blandin Paper Company, through the Itasca County YMCA, as part of the Tall Timber Days Festival. The event was run at Sugar Lake Resort located 12 miles southwest of Grand Rapids on Siseebakwet Lake (Sugar Lake) in 1985.
In 1991, the focus of the Timberman Triathlon intensified under the direction of Sue Herboldt. As a businesswoman and an avid athlete, she developed a successful race committee.
Tom and Diane Nelson took over the reins from Herboldt in 1993, and the race was brought back to its original site. It became officially sanctioned with the Triathlon Federation/USA, now USA Triathlon, in 1994.
The Timberman was voted Race of the Year in both 2000 and 2002. In 2007, race management changed to Jill and Lloyd Ehalt and Kathy and David Kooda.
The management changed hands once again in 2016, with Alan and Amy Dettmer taking over. For three straight years – from 2014-2016 – the race was named a Top-5 Minnesota Triathlete’s Choice Race of the Year.
In 2017, Timberman finished Top three and last year it was second in the Minnesota Triathlete’s Choice Race of the Year.
“We have been around 35 years and the venue is amazing,” Dettmer said. “Jerry MacNeil has been our race announcer for quite a few years and he is well-known in the triathlon community. People just love to hear him talk because he is so knowledgeable about who is at the race, and he also brings a great vibe to the race.”