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Triathlon to be held in Applegate Lake area

Cyclists, runners and swimmers will have a new reason to visit Applegate Lake this summer.

A Portland-area sports promotion organization is staging a triathlon at the lake June 9 and hopes to draw as many as 400 participants to the run-swim-bike competition.

Competitors in the "Granite Man" triathlon will swim .75 miles, ride 13 miles on a mountain bike over mostly wooded trails and run five miles on a lakeside trail.

Athletes who aren't prepared to try all three events can try the duathlon (13-mile bike and five-mile run) or a 10-mile mountain run that will mostly follow the Collings Mountain Trail.

The triathlon and duathlon will feature individual as well as team competition. One person can compete in all phases of the race, or members of two- or three-person teams can each complete one leg. The course will begin and end at Hart-Tish Park, near Applegate Dam.

Inspiration for the Granite Man came from Chuck Neely, race director for Rogue MultiSport, based in Beaver Creek, south of Portland. Neely said people who compete in other races he organizes asked him to create a race in Southern Oregon.

Neely noted that there are events for open-water swimmers, runners and cyclists in Southern Oregon, but little for anyone who wants to do all three.

"I think the athletes are there," he said. "The events aren't there.

"If you look at Southern Oregon in general, versus Portland or Seattle or Bend, there are lots more multi-sport events (in those other areas)."

Triathlon emerged as a sport in 1974, when a group of California runners, cyclists and swimmers began training together and having impromptu races. The multi-sport concept spread quickly, and now there are hundreds of events across the world every year. There are five distance categories that range from "sprint" (.5-mile swim, 13-mile bike, 3.2-mile run) to "ironman" (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run).

Rogue MultiSport conducts other multi-sport events such as the Hellgate Challenge, a run-bike-paddle event along the Rogue River near Grants Pass, and the Umpqua Ultimate, a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run based in Sutherlin.

Local cyclists and runners said the event should find a receptive audience here.

"Obviously this area has a lot to offer," said Alex Hayes, manager of Medford Cycle Sport. "It's scenic. It's beautiful. It's challenging. It will be a nice alternative to the average triathlon and I can't think of a better place."

"I think it's a blast," said Marilyn Bailey, one of the organizers of the annual 50-kilometer Siskiyou Out Back trail run. "I'm thinking of doing the trail run myself. I've never done the Collings Mountain Trail."

Entry fees are $25 for the individual mountain run; $50 for the individual duathlon or triathlon; $70 for the team duathlon; and $90 for the team triathlon. Teams can be all men, all women or coed. Registrants will get a T-shirt, and finishers will get a medal.

For more information see the Web site at: www.roguemultisport.com.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492 or e-mail bkettler@mailtribune.com.