TUPPER LAKE - Tupper Lake's Tinman Triathlon will celebrate its 32nd birthday by becoming part of the Toughman Triathlon circuit for the first time.
"A lot of corporate races are coming through, so it's a lot harder for smaller races to compete," said Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce Events Coordinator Michelle Clement. "The Toughman basically found a group of other mom-and-pop races and created their own circuit."
That circuit now includes six races across the U.S. The Tinman is scheduled for June 28, and the championship race for the Toughman circuit is in New York City on Sept. 7.
Erin Rasco of Cadyville finishes the 2013 Tinman Triathlon in Tupper?Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
For Tupper Lake, the recently signed Toughman contract will expand advertising for the race, which is one of the oldest of its kind in the country.
The Tinman is half the distance of the popular Ironman series: a 1.2 mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run. Competitors can race as individuals or in relay teams, and there is also a sprint category that covers less than half the milage of the full race.
"Even though the sport triathlon grows every year, it's a niche market," Clement said. "We have some loyal athletes that come back every year, we have some local athletes that do it every year, and we have a loyal volunteer base."
Tinman Race Director Ted Merrihew used to run the triathlon in the early 1980s, but now he's content to plan the event. Merrihew's race resume includes major marathons in New York City, Boston and Chicago, and he has also run to the top of the Empire State Building twice.
Merrihew said the lure to Tupper Lake for competitors is the terrain. The triathlon begins and ends at the Municipal Park. The bike ride follows the hilly roads to Cranberry Lake and back, the foot race tackles similar terrain around town, and the swim takes place in Raquette Pond.
"I tell people, if you're from the south, it going to be a rough race," Merrihew said. "Close to 20,000 people have done the race. Probably about 29 percent of them were from Canada."
The race requires year-round planning, which will begin again as soon as this year's Tinman is over. Merrihew said there are usually about 350 volunteers doing behind-the-scenes work and race day tasks like handing out chips and body marking. Volunteers will also help with the post-race chicken barbecue.
"We can't run the race without the volunteers, and we could always use more help," Merrihew said. "It's a beautiful mountain course, and it's got that small-town charm to it. People really enjoy the camaraderie, whether they're racing or just helping out."
Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Merrihew at 518-359-7551.
Registration for the Tinman Triathlon is now open. For more information, visit www.toughmantri.com.