The course will return to Horseshoe Bend this Saturday as the eighth annual Big Horn Canyon Triathlon will once again draw competitive athletes and teams to one of the most scenic competition venues around.
The triathlon was held at Barry’s Landing last year as a change of pace, and organizers plan to alternate between the two areas each year, with Horseshoe Bend being the site on odd-numbered years and Barry’s Landing on even-numbered years.
Athletes will check in at 6:30 a.m. Saturday at Horseshoe Bend, and the race is scheduled to begin at 7:30 with the swimming leg first. The triathlon includes an 800-yard swim, a 10.2-mile bicycle ride and a 3.1-mile run.
Longtime organizer Ben Zeller, who is slowly turning the reins of the event over to Big Horn Races and Russell and Victoria Dickson, said the triathlon will once again use Wyo Timing to time the race using a waterproof chip fastened with an ankle bracelet.
Not only will the electronic timing allow staggered starts for the swimmers, the system can track an athlete’s splits throughout the course as the chip passes electronic sensors placed at various points on the course.
“The nice thing about these timing people is that they are very versatile in what they can do,” Zeller said. “We’ll have about a 20-second gap between each swimmer.”
The race will begin at the Horseshoe Bend swimming beach at water’s edge. Swimmers will swim out to a buoy and back, then run up the slope to the transition area, where bicycles will be waiting. Cyclists will ride west up the Horseshoe Bend road to Wyoming Highway 37, then north to the state line and back again.
The running leg will take the athletes north of the parking area through the Horseshoe Bend Campground and onto the Mouth of the Canyon Trail, which takes runners to Crooked Creek Bay and back.
“The Crooked Creek overlook has a great view of the bay and the canyon,” Zeller said. “We plan to have a photographer on site at the overlook.”
Zeller said the course provides spectacular scenery and views.
“You can’t beat the scenery out there, especially the run and even the bike portion,” he said. “You’re staring at your tire going north. Then when you turn around and go back down, you see that spectacular view. You’re out of breath, so it’s a bit more breathtaking,” he joked.
“At the Crooked Creek Bay overlook it’s the same thing. You run uphill to the overlook, then you see the canyon.”
Snacks and beverages will be available for athletes in the transition area, and every athlete will receive a cinch bag. An awards ceremony will follow the race, and medals will be awarded to first-, second- and third-place finishers in men’s, women’s and youth individual divisions, as well as the top three teams.
Competitors may sign up through midnight on Friday online at www.bighorncanyontri.com. There are also entry forms available at the Lovell Area Chamber of Commerce and at Queen Bee Gardens, though Victoria Dickson said she prefers competitors to register online if at all possible.
Registration fees are $45 per individual and $75 per team.
Big Horn Races will provide a PA system for announcements and music.
In the past the triathlon was followed by free boat rides provided by the Friends of Bighorn Lake, but that event is no longer taking place.
Big Horn Races will take over the event next year, and Victoria Dickson said the triathlon may be moved to August when the water is warmer,
while the Big Horn Canyon Half Marathon moves to early July. But this year the half marathon will be held on Labor Day weekend, Saturday, Sept. 2.
By David Peck