"Every year something interesting happens," Zwart said.
For the proposal, Darren Pawlitschek of New Brighton finished the race, changed into a suit and waited for his girlfriend, Patricia Crompton of Shoreview to cross the finish line. When she did, she was still huffing and puffing when Pawlitschek popped the question.
"She said yes," Zwart said.
The Elysian race has inspired many other communities — North Mankato, Lake Crystal, Waseca and Fairmont, among others — to start similar races, and organizers have counted on Zwart's expertise and resources. Many people also got their first taste of racing as rookies in the Rookies tri.
"A ton of people say to me, 'I started here,' or, 'I was here 25 years ago,' and went on to bigger races," Zwart said. "It's nice to have those people come back every year."
Zwart expects a decent turnout Saturday, especially if the weather cooperates. There remains room in the field, and there is race-day registration. More information can be found at www.elysianmn.com.
As for Zwart, she has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. She hopes to be directing the 40th triathlon, too.
"Ten more years probably will be my limit," she said. "Somebody will probably have to take over then."