Pictured: The Toughest Race in the Most Beautiful Place/
Rising at dawn, often in the freezing cold, to put in long, hard, physical hours has not been in vain for the people involved with the June Lake Triathlon. I’m not referring to the athletes who train for the event but rather to the organizers. The event itself recently received some major applause — a direct reflection on those who make it happen each year.
Last month, the June Lake Triathlon was listed number three on the roster of the top 22 triathlons in the nation in Triathlete Magazine. The article described the race as follows:
“Think pristine alpine backdrop at 7,600 feet above sea level, with sweeping views of the Sierra Range anywhere you look. A (chilly) freshwater swim precedes a moderately hilly ride around the namesake lake and surrounding lakes. Racers then tackle a stunning yet equally challenging run course that’s a mix of road and trail. Bonus: one of the best finish-line spreads [courtesy Linda Dore Foodservice out of Lee Vining] you’ll ever enjoy.”
According to its website, “Triathlete magazine was founded in 1983, and is the world’s largest multisport publication with a monthly circulation of more than 60,000.” In other words, the honor is remarkable, and yet Race Director Alana Levin remained extremely humble.
“The setting is why we are doing so well,” Levin told The Sheet this week, not to mention the countless hours she and many others put into the triathlon each year to make the event a success.
Indeed, however, the setting is spectacular. Based on the beach of June Lake in June Lake, Calif., the triathlon allows participants a peek at the natural grandeur tucked away in this small mountain town.
“I feel really lucky that the community of June Lake is great,” Levin said. “The businesses are very supportive of the event.”
So what does a top-ranked triathlon do to keep garnering attention year after year? Well, for starters, it adds races.
Three years ago, the June Lake Triathlon added the Kids Mini Race to the already-established Sprint-Distance Triathlon and Olympic-Distance Triathlon.
This year Levin decided to add a Half Ironman category.
“A Half Ironman is a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run,” Levin explained. As is the case in all the other categories except the Kids Mini, the Half Ironman can be done as a relay team.
“We live in an area where people are always challenging themselves and athletes are always looking for the next thing,” Levin explained. “I just wanted to give people the opportunity to race a half [Ironman] in an amazing setting on a challenging course.”
Levin also pointed out that the Eastern Sierra is a destination for many. She stated that 65 percent of the June Lake Triathlon’s registrants each year are from people who come from out of the area. Levin’s statistics also show that for each athlete that attended the event last year, an average of 3.2 other people accompanied them.
“The Half Ironman provides a bigger and better reason to come out for a bigger challenge,” Levin said. “We want to keep upping the bar and attracting more people into the area.”
Currently the cap on registration is set at 500, and Levin hopes that the exposure in Triathlete Magazine as well as the addition of the Half Ironman will help the event reach that limit this July as it heads into its seventh year.
“Usually we are just under the 500 registrant cap,” she said. Adding that the exposure in Triathlete Magazine will “certainly help” reach maximum capacity. Already this year’s event, scheduled for July 13, has more than 300 athletes signed up to compete.
For now, Levin plans to keep the cap at 500 registrants because the transition area (where athletes change from one sport to the next) during the race really can’t take any more people.
“The transition area is pretty full,” Levin said. “If we find a need in the future to accommodate more people then we might break up the events over two days, putting the long events on Saturday and the Sprint and Kids races on Sunday.”
For now, however, Levin and crew can simply bask in the glow of a job well done as they gear up for another successful event ahead.
For more information or to register for this year’s event, visit www.JuneLakeTri.com
Note: In March 2011, Triathlete Magazine editor, Julia Polloreno also described the June Lake Triathlon as one of her “all time favorites” in her From the Editor section for that issue.
(Photo: Rick Kattelmann)