At 8 a.m. Saturday, competitors will be taking off from the Sutcliffe Marina as they hope to complete the Pyramid Lake Sprint Triathlon.
The triathlon is an annual event sponsored by the Reno Area Triathlon club to benefit local organizations and charities. PLST is part of a series of developmental sprint races sponsored by the Southwest Region of USA Triathlon in order to encourage youth (ages 13-15) and junior (ages 16-19) athletes to participate in triathlons.
Participants in the event have a choice — either do all three legs of the race or be part of a three-member team with each person competing in one leg.
The triathlon starts off with one half-mile swim with water temperatures expected to be between 68 and 72 degrees. Wetsuits are recommended.
Then, competitors will bike 14 miles on a flat and fairly fast route with a few rolling rills. The course heads north on state route 445 to the halfway turnaround (Warrior Point) and then heads back to the marina.
Racers will conclude the triathlon with a three-mile run that goes south of the marina on pavement and an old railroad grade.
The PLST is a good place to start for runners looking for a new challenge. Sprint triathlons are far less strenuous than Ironman triathlons.
Holly Underwood, a 44-year-old stay-at-home mom who has lived in the Reno-Sparks area for 13 years, has competed in a couple marathons and about 10 half marathons. But with kids, she can no longer put in the training required to prepare for those long races.
Underwood competed in two other triathlons last year in Napa and Graeagle, Calif., but this is the first time she will try the Pyramid Lake course. Admittedly, she is a little nervous because swimming is always a big deal to her since she just learned how about a year and a half ago.
The change of pace is what Underwood enjoys about triathlons.
“I like the training. I’m a long-distance runner, but I like triathlons because I get to mix it up,” she said. “The training is way more intense for a marathon. It’s a lot more training. With little kids, I wouldn’t be able to put the time in for a marathon. Plus, it’s so hard on your body because you’re constantly running those miles.”
Kristi Jensen, who has lived in Sparks for about a year and a half after living the previous 36 and a half years in Reno, is in similar situation as Underwood.
Jensen is a Reno High graduate and was a high jumper for the University of Nevada, Reno. After graduating from UNR in 1996, she began competing in long-distance races.
She’s also very new to triathlons. Jensen has been attending a triathlon class taught at UNR by Scott Young. The class meets four times a week for 10 weeks and focuses on training in the pool, running and biking. Jensen learned how to properly swim from the class and how to transition from one part of the triathlon to the next, which has helped Jensen leave her comfort zone and let her check off the PLST from her bucket list.
“The class is legit. He’s not taking us out on any easy flat 20-minute runs,” Jensen said. “He’s definitely prepared us for it…I’m looking forward to not having to be good at something because with running, I know the ins and outs of it and I run my butt off. I know what times I want to hit, and every race I run I have to beat that.
“With this, I don’t have to be good because it’s new, so I’m a lot more relaxed. I don’t really have any expectations for myself except to complete it. I’ve forced myself to step outside of the box of running and go out of my comfort zone to swimming and cycling.”
Even though sprint triathlons aren’t as strenuous as full triathlons, the PLST won’t be a walk in the park.
Luke Holladay, a former runner at Spanish Springs High, has repeatedly run in the 178-mile long Reno-Tahoe Odyssey race. He competed in the PLST last summer, but couldn’t fit it in his schedule this year because he’s saving money to go away for college in the fall.
“It was a blast. It was definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Holladay said of last year’s PLST.
Because the PLST is part of a race series, each event winner will receive an award from the Southwest Region of the USAT as well as ranking points. The last event of the season will crown the series champions.
The Southwest Region of USAT holds races in Nevada, Arizona and California. The USAT is also holding the 2011 Junior and Youth National Championship this weekend in San Diego, Calif. at the Chula Vista Harbor. The series then heads up to Santa Cruz, Calif. for the Santa Cruz Sprint Triathlon next weekend.