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Blaine is gearing up for its first triathlon at the two-year-old Lakeside Commons Park on May 19.

Nate Monahan, who works for the city's Parks and Recreation Department as a program director, said, "It's a great opportunity to have an event and show off this beautiful new park," adding that The Lakes development is also a central location.

Already, Blaine is home to the Schwan's USA Cup, the international youth soccer tournament, and professional golf's 3M Championship. "We wanted to add another unique special event to Blaine to promote a healthy and active way of life and to give people a race here in the north-metro area," said Monahan.

As it is, probably the closest triathlons are in New Brighton and Maple Grove, he said.

So far, 25 people have signed up for the Blaine triathlon, which can handle up to 250 athletes.

The USA Triathlon-sanctioned race is open to anyone over 18, and runners can sign up as individuals or in teams of two or three.

A course for beginners

The entry-level Sprint distance race will start with a 0.3-mile swim in Sunset Lake, followed by a 16.5-mile bicycle ride around The Lakes development. It will wrap up with a 3.5-mile run along nearby sidewalks and trails.

The flat course makes the Blaine Triathlon a good starting point for beginners, said Jon Fagerness, a fitness and personal trainer at the Fitness Pros gym.

Blaine will be "one of the most fun because of the ease of it," he said, adding, "First-timers can get their feet wet."

Triathlons have become increasingly popular in recent years because it's "more fun than running," said Fagerness, who served on a city planning committee for the race.

"People try to run a marathon and they get broken right away," he said. A triathlon "doesn't have the same pounding on the body."

After athletes do it, "They always want to do it again."

It's what attracted Blaine resident Tom LaBerge to the event. Although the running part of the race will be hard on LaBerge, swimming and biking come naturally to him.

LaBerge, who has struggled to keep his weight down, has come a long way since a degenerative disease of the hip joint called Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome crippled him as a child.

The triathlon will be his first. "I thought [the triathlon] would be a good way to stay in shape with my cardiovascular system, without destroying my hip."

He also wants to someday swim the English Channel and climb Mount Everest.

"If someone who has struggled with being overweight and has a bad joint can do it, then pretty much anyone can," he said.

Working out the details

Planning for the race everything from getting county approval for street lane closures to lining up more than 100 volunteers, said to Jim Kappelhoff, parks and recreation director.

Blaine police will help direct traffic during the race, while paramedics and ambulances will be on hand, he said.

It's a big effort that gives the city a chance to shine.

"Athletes will come here and enjoy the parks and trails and get familiar with the city and what it has to offer," he said.

"We're just hoping that the ice is out of the lake by May 19," he said, adding that the triathletes will wear wet suits in the cold water.

Blaine Medical Center is the title sponsor of the event.

Anna Pratt is a Minneapolis freelance writer.

WANT TO PARTICIPATE?

For more information or to sign up for the Blaine triathlon, check out www.blainetriathlon.com/ .