News & Stories

“Tri” Something Different: 2013 UCare Tri-Loppet Recap
June 30, 2013

Anwatin skier Jezir Bradley and Foundation member Byron Lubenkov were both pleased (and muddied) at the end of their races.
Anwatin skier Jezir Bradley and Foundation member Byron Lubenkov were both pleased (and muddied) at the end of their races.

When I sat down and talked to the winner of this year’s Tri-Loppet, Josie Nelson, she surprised me by discussing the Tri-Loppet event and the Loppet itself rather than her personal race. “I just think it’s so cool how we all love these sports but The Loppet makes them community-building,” she commented as she sat in the shade at the awards ceremony, closely surrounded by kids, friends and family.

Though the words “grueling,” “exhausting,” “fierce,” and even “muddy” could describe this year’s Tri-Loppet pretty handily, Nelson perfectly captured the mood of the day with the word “community.” Competitor Kari Henry described the start of the race’s paddle portion as “Madness,” with boats ranging from fat plastic kayaks to sleek racing canoes, but “everyone was laughing and joking and wishing each other luck, then when the race started it turned into competition.”

U19 Women’s champion Jessie Kay described the thrill of the competition, though: “Coming through Lake Calhoun under the bridge, there were the most crowds, my dad and I had a great spot in the race, and with the wind and the waves, that was the most exciting part.” For a morning that started windy with a forecast that promised rain, the day got both warm and sunny, but couldn’t quite dry out the mud patches on the course. Anwatin skier Jezeir Bradley said, “There were a few wet spots, which made it even more fun. It was refreshing.”

The Orienteering Champions kicked up their feet on the hand crafted stools they won as prizes.
The Orienteering Champions kicked up their feet on the hand crafted stools they won as prizes.

Ample volunteers are needed to get an event like the Tri-Loppet Festival going, and, sure enough, friendly faces peeked out from under blue Columbia Volunteer Caps all day at the Festival. Vanessa MacCallum, a volunteer through the event’s title sponsor, UCare, described the experience of her aid-station duties as “really exciting- as the racers came through we cheered a lot, we were right by the transition so people were pretty tired” and needed all the motivation they could get.

Additional volunteers were also needed for the Tri-It Stations, an all-new portion of the Festival in which participants try various activities, from paddleboarding to mountain-bike skills, and, despite adding to the planning element of the race, the Tri-It station gave athletes besides Tri racers a chance to get out and enjoy the day, along with the Canoe Sprints and the Swedish Kubb Tournament. As Josie Nelson said, “I talked to a kid who had tried all the Tri-It sports, and was listing them all off for me excitedly. He was ten or twelve, and looked like he wouldn’t otherwise have tried these sports, and that’s what makes the Loppet unique.”

Kids and adults were able to "tri" something new at the REI Minne-Tri.
Kids and adults were able to “tri” something new at the REI Minne-Tri.

Whether “Tri”-ing something new took the form of the triathlon itself, a Tri-It station, a canoe sprint, a Kubb game, or even a slice of lefse at the finish or a new friend, the 2013 Tri-It Festival brought the Twin Cities together to enjoy everything Minnesota summer has to offer.