MANCHESTER - For many the word triathlon conjures up all kinds of images. Quite a few likely associate the word with the "Ironman" or "half-Ironman" - daunting competitions that span exceptionally long distances in the areas of swimming, biking, and running.

But on Aug. 25, Hunter Park will be hosting the first Southern Vermont Sprint Triathlon - an event whose course includes a 16 mile bike ride, 1/4 mile swim, and 5K run.

"We started doing races like the Four on the Fourth just last year. It's kind of a new venture for Hunter Park and we've had a decent turnout, some good success from the race that we've done, and so we're trying to kind of expand," said Bethany Trout, one of the organizers of the race. "There's a need for this type of event in this area down here. I know there's a lot of triathlons up north in Vermont, but I'm not familiar with any down this way."

Though most triathlons begin with the swimming portion, the Sprint Triathlon - which will begin at 8 a.m. - will start with an 8 mile bike ride to Emerald Lake. There, participants will swim a 1/4 mile before biking back to Hunter Park where they will begin the 5K run that goes down Route 30 and back through the Manchester Rec Park.

Based on the International Triathlon Union, and USA Triathlon, the typical race distances in a Sprint Triathlon include a .465 mile swim, a 12.5 mile bike and a 3.1 mile run. However, the biking portion was increased because it was the distance to Emerald Lake, which was the best suitable location for the swimming portion of the triathlon. The swimming part of the race was decreased for a different reason.

"Typically people are more wary about the swimming portion of the triathlon," said Trout. "Everybody bikes; everybody runs. Swimming is somewhat daunting at times for different people, especially people who are new to triathlons. So, a quarter mile swim is what we chose so it wasn't daunting basically so that it would encourage people to participate and not discourage them from participating."

Trout continued to say that she felt a 5K worked well with the triathlon, especially given the 5K path that runs through Hunter Park.

Discussions and planning of the triathlon began in the spring, but information and registration forms did not become available until Hunter Park's Four on the Fourth race. Partially for that reason, Trout said they are being realistic about participation in this year's event.

"For the first year what we're expecting is possibly 50 to 75 participants all together," she said. "So, I think we're being realistic in what we expect to get the first year out and we're hoping that it's a race that people enjoy and want to come and do again and can tell their friends about."

Since Hunter Park began putting out information about the race, Trout said that people have not only shown interest in participating in it, but that there has been a lot of community support for it as well. Not only have people been volunteering to help out with the race, but Trout said they have gotten a couple of big sponsors, which has helped tremendously.

"That was key for us to find sponsorships and funding to make sure that we could realistically organize this and make it successful the first year out," she said.

Registration is currently open and while people may register the day of the race, Trout said those interested in participating are strongly encouraged to register by Aug. 23. to allow them to better organize and plan the event.

The pre-registration fee is $50 and Trout said they are also encouraging people to form relay teams - the cost of which would be $70 for a two person team and $90 for three people. The price of registration increases by $10 for each category on the day of the race. Those interested in registering may do so at Active.com

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