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Junior Loppet Teams at the 2016 UCare Tri-Loppet: 8th Graders Take Their Bow!


Nobody really wanted to leave the shores of Wirth Lake — even after the 2016 UCare Tri-Loppet was being pulled apart and taken away. Athletes, coaches, and parents from the Franklin, Anwatin, and Northeast middle school teams hung around and enjoyed what was an exceptional summer day. 75, sunny, windy, perfect lake weather.

The race itself was almost a footnote — albeit a 25-odd kilometer-long one, one that leaves you sore the next day. New racers and future team leaders such as Boonkoon Thao, Rogelio Ciriaco-Cruz and Serenity Kirk all showed real grit and determination in the longest Loppet event they undertake in our whole year’s worth of events. But, for a few minutes everyone was quietly listening to the waves of Wirth Lake — a reminder of that killer south wind earlier that day.

The Tri-Loppet is, for some, a bittersweet event. It is the last race that 8th graders on the Junior Loppet middle school teams take part in as leaders of their team. And when they cross the finish line, they step into unknown territory — being an alumni rather than an athlete. That isn’t to say mainstays like Charlie Grabow, Donovan Blatcher, Kemari Williams, Nayeli Hernandez, Doua Thao, Tome Vang, Emily Kral and Henri Nguyen didn’t have fun! All afternoon long, I was regaled of splashes in the face and near misses on the trail. And, really, any day involving a “Minnesota-style” triathlon and homemade hotdogs is bound to be a good one. But, sometimes, you don’t want the race to be over. Sometimes, you want to be the last person to cross that finish line.

Come the Trail Loppet, though, you can bet that you’ll see the same faces toeing the start all over again.

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