Tiger Triathlon makes another run on Saturday

Big field expectedThe summer sports scene wouldn’t be complete without another running of the popular Tiger Triathlon. This year’s 23rd running of the swim/bike and run Tiger will be held Saturday, July 20. Swimmers will hit the waters of Gillette Lake at 8 a.m. sharp.Tiger Triathlon Race Director Jake Wilson, who doubles as the city of Colville’s Recreation Coordinator, is certainly more comfortable with his Tiger Tri responsibilities after overseeing his first triathlon last July.“I’m definitely more comfortable with it and so are our volunteers,” Wilson said with a smile. “We had some major turnover in our volunteer ranks for last summer’s triathlon. There is a learning curve.”Wilson said he is very appreciative of the tremendous volunteer support the race has garnered over the years.Wilson said over 100 volunteers will help insure that the race runs smoothly again on Saturday. “It’s really great to have that many volunteers,” Wilson said. “Things wouldn’t go as well if we didn’t.”Carb loading and packet pick-upThe weekend will get started on Friday at Colville High School with the annual Super 1 Foods sponsored pasta dinner (in the cafeteria). The pasta dinner and race packet pick-up will run from 6 to 8 p.m.Race day on Saturday will get underway with registration from 6 to 7:30 a.m. at the Gillette Lake Campground on the Little Pend Oreille Lakes chain east of Colville. A pre-race briefing will be conducted at 7:45 a.m. and swimmers will get the triathlon underway at 8 a.m.The Tiger Triathlon, which draws serious triathletes and those giving the sport of triathlon a try for the first time—and everyone in between-- encompasses a 1 K (sixth-tenths of a mile) swim, a mostly downhill 40K (24 mile) bike ride along scenic Highway 20 to Colville High School, and an 8K (6.5 mile) run on Rotary Trail.The swim portion of the triathlon formerly was headquartered at Beaver Lodge. But a move to Gillette Lake Campground has been beneficial, according to Wilson.“The boat launch and campground work great,” Wilson acknowledged. “Logistically and safety-wise, it all works very well there.”Wilson said he is expecting from 160 to 180 entrants for the triathlon. Those entries will include both individual competitors and those who will compete on teams.Good field anticipated this yearThe number of entries in a given year has been up and down,” he said. “I think we have had as high as 200 (entries) and as low as 70. I think this will be a pretty high year as far as entries.“Some years when we had low entries, it had to do with road maintenance and construction on Highway 20. We don’t have that this year.”Last year’s overall winner, Ben Green of Spokane, will be back in the field on Saturday. Ditto for women’s winner, Patty Boyd of White Salmon.Colville High School graduate (2004) Jesse Carnes, who finished second overall in last year’s Tiger Triathlon, will be back again and is a serious threat to win his first Tiger. Carnes, a regular on the triathlon circuit, finished third in last month’s big Pacific Crest Sports Festival Triathlon in and around the Sunriver resort community south of Bend, OR. (1.2 mile swim, 56.3 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run).“He will be one of the favorites,” Wilson said of his friend from Missoula. “He was less than a minute behind the winner last year.”There will also be numerous teams in the field again on Saturday. Among local team entries will be members of the McGrane family from Colville.And the Tiger Triathlon’s most veteran of volunteers, Colville School District teacher Randy Stebbins, will also field another team for this year’s triathlon.Wilson said there is always a spike in Colville Municipal Swimming Pool activity (lap swim) two or three weeks prior to the Tiger Triathlon. “We have people training in the pool all the time,” he said. “It gets pretty busy a couple of weeks prior to the event.”Wilson, who has been working to promote cycling through the recreation department, has also noticed a spike in casual riding around the area.“Cycling is definitely getting more popular around here. It’s great to see…there is more of a cycling community here. There are several groups riding bicycles.”Wilson said he has always appreciated the fact that the Tiger Triathlon is able to draw the serious triathletes to a scenic course in the middle of the Colville National Forest—and those fledgling triathletes new to the “game.”Downhill to the ‘Ville…and the water’s warm (relatively, anyway).“It’s a good starting point and pretty low-key,” Wilson said. “That’s part of its charm. And the serious triathletes love the course. It’s beautiful, the bike ride is mostly fast and downhill (about 1,000 feet of elevation drop)…they like the speed…and the water is pretty warm for a high mountain lake.” The awards’ presentation is scheduled for about 11:45 p.m. on the CHS track.