By DAN FOX
With nearly double the participants of its first year, the Chilkat Challenge Triathlon is set to pit racers against the rugged, beautiful Alaska landscape on July 1.
“We’ve got about 85 people at this point that are going to be in the race,” said Race Marshall Gershon Cohen.
The aquatic portion of the triathlon will see the participants start at Mosquito Lake. They’ll paddle down the Chilkat River to Klukwan, going through the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. The next 22 miles of the race will be on two wheels, as racers mount bikes and zip down the Haines Highway. The final 8.5 miles of the race is on-foot alongside the Chilkat River, from Haines to Chilkat State Park.
“It’s in or along the water the whole way,” Cohen said. “Almost 40 miles.”
People can compete in teams this year, as well as individually. Cohen said he wouldn’t be surprised if registration doubled again next year.
“The word is definitely out that this is not just unique in that it’s a paddle/bike/run as opposed to most triathlons which are a swim, but it’s also of course in one of the most beautiful places on the planet that you could have a race like this,” Cohen said.
The slough connecting Mosquito Lake and the Chilkat River is Cohen’s favorite segment of the course.
“It is absolutely gorgeous,” Cohen said. “The body of water is anywhere from six to 10 feet wide in places, and you’re just snaking through the cottonwood trees and then all of the sudden: boom, the Chilkat River is going by and you take a hard right and you’re headed downriver.”
A mandatory pre-race safety meeting is on June 30 at the Chilkat Center.