On Saturday swim caps will bob in the water of Auke Lake, multi-speed bikes will speed toward the Mendenhall Glacier and waffled-soled shoes of every variety will dash along a rainforest trail near the University of Alaska Southeast campus as athletes compete in the 7th annual Aukeman Sprint Triathlon.
“I have an amazing group of athletes that I have been training up for the Aukeman,” certified USA triathlon coach Jamie Bursell said. “I am proud of their ability to focus on improving their performance and support each other at the same time.”
Bursell holds a four-week High Cadence Triathlon training camp the month prior to the Aukeman and a nine-week camp in October.
Certified USA Triathlon coach Tracy Rivera also trains athletes for the three-element events that have become the fastest growing sport in the nation and world. As many as 80-percent of Saturday’s athletes were trained by Rivera at some point.
The race kicks off at 7:30 a.m. with a 750-meter swim in Auke Lake (competitors are required to wear a wet suit), followed by a 19k bike ride to the glacier and back and ending with a 5k run down the Auke Lake Trail.
“The camaraderie is heart-warming,” Bursell said of athletes that train in a group for triathlons. “And the commitment to raising their own bar is every coach’s dream.”
According to coaches, a variety of athletes will be ready to go on Saturday.
Kris Sell is coming back to conquer the Aukeman after receiving word that her father had suddenly died during the bike portion last year.
April Rezendes will be a woman to watch in the top 3 finishers.
Daren Booton is racing Aukeman for the third time and has come a long way since his first race where he wore a dry suit and made it out of the swim course with less than two minutes before the cut-off. Booton’s training tenacity has taken him to a new level and he is sure to have a great showing in performance this year.
Steve Parker is new to triathlon as of the beginning of July, when he signed on for the Aukeman Training Camp. He is a retired physician and has shown an amazing performance boost in the past month.
Reed Stoops is one of the most inspiring athletes to watch.
Lucrecia Mervine will be competing in her first triathlon on Saturday. Just a year-and-a-half ago, she couldn’t swim but with a steadfast spirit and will to succeed, she has learned to swim and train for triathlons.
Mark Neidhold is expected to have a top-notch performance at Aukeman. On July 12, he competed in the Ironman Vineman 70.3 race in Windsor, California.
Jim Ustasiewski is one of Juneau’s top triathletes and expected to have a strong performance on Saturday. He has multiple Ironman races under his belt, including Ironman Canada and Ironman Arizona.
John Bursell, a multi-year volunteer at the Aukeman, is racing it for the first time this year. Bursell is a six-time Ironman World Championships competitor, so he will be expected to have a top performance.
Other triathletes entered include Kim Rivera, Jennifer Watson, Melanie White, Kathy Karshner, Molly McCormick and Jim Grammel.
“All these folks have worked hard all year and will have a great race,” Rivera said.
The Aukeman is sanctioned by USA Triathlon, which is a national group that provides rankings, insurance and organizational help.
The transition area at the University of Alaska Southeast will open at 6 a.m. Saturday. Body marking and bike check is from 6-7 a.m. and the race starts at 7:30 a.m.
Registration closes today at noon. There is no race day registration. Registration is at active.com or contact Liz at 957-6914 for more information. There is a mandatory pre-race meeting at 5:30 p.m. today in the Mourant Building and bibs will be distributed after.