In the last three to four years, triathlons — swimming, biking and running — have gained in popularity, both nationally and locally.
The sport of triathlon has a long history in Cleveland. The first Cleveland Triathlon, originally known as the National City Triathlon, debuted in 1987 and celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016. In 1996, Cleveland hosted the Triathlon World Championships, and could potentially host the 2018-19 USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals, according to Mickey Ryzmek, USAT certified race director and promoter of North Coast Multisports.
More people are being drawn to the sport, which is a three-sport athletic competition involving the completion of three continuous and sequential endurance disciplines: swimming, biking and running.
What draws a person to the sport of triathlon? That varies from person to person.
“I thought it was cool,” says Dawn Maniawski, 45, a mother of one from Chagrin Falls. “I always wanted to try one, but I didn’t think I could; I didn’t consider myself an athlete, although I ran and swam regularly.”
Like others, Maniawski found the open water swim (OWS) intimidating.
“Not knowing what was below me, or being able to swim to the side of the pool if I needed, intimidated me,” she said, adding some advice for newbies. “Don’t be intimidated. Take your training step-by-step and utilize local resources such as coaches, clubs and clinics.”
Dawn Maniaski, Olympic Triathlon – Milton Head, 2015
Expert Advice for Training and Beyond
Tim Edwards, USAT Level 2 coach, offers the following advice for those who are new to triathlons:
- Start slow and easy. The best way to begin training for your first triathlon is to start slow and build in a logical manner to prevent injuries. Consider working with a coach, as the guidance and support allow you to develop good techniques and sound training principles.
- Goal setting. Your first goal should be to have fun in a safe manner and finish your race. This will build your confidence.
- Picking your first event. Pick races that are fun but challenging. After that, explore different venues and distances. Athletes tend to achieve much more with a stretch goal that will keep them engaged, yet is not so big they get injured.
- Find a club. There are a few local triathlon clubs in the area. Meeting like-minded people will help you stay focused and motivated, plus racing with others is a lot of fun.
- Create a relay team. If you are uncertain about doing all three events by yourself, create a relay team. This will allow you to experience a multisport event without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated.
- Make it a family event. The popularity of triathlons is gaining momentum with young athletes, too.
“There are Splash and Dash races where the kids can try the sport without a bike,” Edwards says. “Lots of resources are being put into youth and junior development now. Even up to college age should max out at Olympic distances.”
To learn more about junior development, clinics and coaching, visit ncecoaching.com.
Pinpointing the exact causes of increased interest is arduous, but the USA Triathlon, the national governing body for the sport, offers a list of factors that have played a role. Here are six that pertain to Northeast Ohio:
- Society’s interest in fitness and living a healthy lifestyle
- The growth in the number of more accessible shorter sprint races, which made the sport
more accessible to those with fewer hours to train each week
- Growth in the 30-49 age groups who are looking for varied outlets for fitness
- Peer pressure from friends who have tried the sport
- Increase in clubs, which create a community concept for men, and especially women, who
enjoy the group training and support atmosphere
- It’s on the bucket list (our featured athlete, Dawn Maniawski, has a sprint triathlon on her bucket list).
Local Triathlon Promoters
All four of the following promoters offer a variety of races throughout the year. Check their websites for all races and details.
Champ Racing — champracing.org
HFP Racing — hfpracing.com
NCN Racing — ncnracing.com
NorthCoast Multisports — ncmultisports.com
By Stacy Rhea, A.C.E. Certified Trainer with 25 Years Personal Training and 14 Years Multi-Sport Experience