The Timberman Triathlon

Today is the start of the Timberman Triathlon, an event that has grown considerably in participation and importance over the past few years.

Today is what is called The Sprint, a short course version of the bigger race. Tomorrow is the Timberman Triathlon 70.3 event.

Despite being named "Must-do Triathlon Adventure" by Triathlon Magazine, Keith Jordan and his Timberman staff continue to seek ways to improve the event .

That is no different this year, and it shows with more entertainment and wetsuit strippers — volunteers who will help the athletes out of their wetsuits after the swim.

The 7th annual Timberman Triathlon Festival will get off to a flying start Saturday morning (7AM) with the Timberman Short Course, a sprint triathlon that kicks off the big weekend. With 1,300 triathletes competing on Saturday and another 2,000 on Sunday, the Timberman is now the largest triathlon on the east coast.

I saw the officials manning the short course while dropping BeezleBub off at work earlier this morning. Most of the course signs had been put up over the past week and traffic cones were laid out to mark the various stations along the way.

Heading into Sunday's seventh running of the event, there is no clear cut favorite as a plethora of the world's top professionals flock to the Lakes Region in hopes of conquering the challenging 70.3 mile — 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run — course here at Ellacoya State Park. To do so the challengers must knock of last year's male and female champ Sweden's Bjorn Andersson and Lincoln, Mass. native Karen Smyers, who is the only athlete male or female to repeat. This year's event is also important because it will be offering 75 qualifying spots for the 2007 Ironman World Championships 70.3 in Clearwater, Fla.

"We keep on looking for ways to make it better ... we keep adding more stuff for the athletes," said Jordan, Timberman Race Director.

"We set out to create the best race in the world," Jordan pointed out. "It's become a very prestigious race now, and it's really amazing. I don't know if you can expect that, but the potential was there with the great area we live in and the great people here. All those people, the volunteers who put so much into it, and the spectators who line the street. That is one of the reasons why it has become a great race."

Listening to some of the competitors commenting on the local TV news, the two things that was heard again and again was the challenge of the course and the beauty of the area. The swimming and road race portions of the course are along the south shore of Lake Winnipesaukee with a panoramic view of the lake, the Ossipee and White Mountains to the north, and the Belknap Mountains to the south.

It's understandable why this race has become as popular as it is.

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