There are quite a few triathlons throughout the summer in the region, but the La Porte County Family YMCA hosts the oldest in the state. For the past 36 years the YMCA has been hosting their triathlon for their local, national, and international participants and 2015’s triathlon was another great addition for the books. Hundreds of men and women gathered at La Porte’s Soldiers Memorial Park on a gorgeous Saturday morning to run, bike, and swim the triathlon and to raise money for the expanding YMCA.
The event, like any other tri, asks their participants to partake in a quarter-mile lake swim through Stone Lake, a 12.4-mile bike ride and a 3.4-mile run. A triathlon is hard for anyone who decides to brave it, but the YMCA made sure the triathlon is for everyone to be part of - not just the devoted athletes who take up the much harder ironman challenges. La Porte County Family YMCA CEO Cindy Berchem explained that the triathlon is open to anyone who wants to compete - which has been their mainstay for over three decades - and also lets them show off a bit.
“This triathlon is not a full ironman tri, so this is a great one to get some people started on to see if they can conquer it.” Berchem stated. “It’s challenging but it’s not the full on hard stuff that some others have gone though. This triathlon also is a great opportunity to show off our naturally beautiful venue. It’s a great way to show off La Porte and let people see what we’re so proud of having here. We get people from all over coming here for this triathlon, and it’s great to hear them say how great the course is.”
Out of the large crowd of travellers, determined athletes and tri-regulars there were also the first timers - and one of those first timers was La Porte Mayor Blair Milo. Though she said she has never participated in a triathlon before, she was willing to take the challenge like so many others had that morning.
“It’s a great event and I wanted to come myself and try the challenge - to try the tri.” Milo explained. “I set the goal for myself to come out and do this. I’m not reaching for a time or anything - just hoping I don’t die by the end of it. Either way, the Y does such a fantastic job with this course that I think it’s going to be a fun time.”
As the tri-athletes battled through the course it may not have seemed like they were having so much fun, but by the time they crossed the finish line it was clear they did. It wasn’t just the people who were doing the swimming, biking, and running that were having fun either. The family of YMCA employee and tri participant Christina Howland decided to take it up a notch of support by showing up in Team Tina shirts and made signs in order to cheer her along the way.
“I wanted to die on the finish line but when they showed up on that all went way.” Howland stated. “They surprised me this morning with everything and my car was decorated too when I took it out of the garage. I’ve done this the past two years with my friend, so it’s becoming a tradition, but it’s great to see my family get into it as well.”
When the day finished awards were given out for top racers in various age groups and plaques were handed out for the masters, but it all was icing on the cake for the people who decided to take on the triathlon. The event went off smoothly due to the great YMCA staff and their volunteers, and all of their hard work. It will be a challenge to top the 36th La Porte County Family YMCA Triathlon due to the perfect weather and the great group of people who made it out to Soliders Memorial Park, but it will certainly continue for years to come as one of must-do triathlons in Northwest Indiana.