The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 19, 2013

Lake Crystal hopes duathlon has BROAD APPEAL

By Jim Rueda jrueda@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — LAKE CRYSTAL — When Pat Baskfield embarks on his second Lake Crystal Duathlon on Saturday, he’ll have a little more on his plate than most of the competitors.

It’s not that he won’t be taxed enough by the 3.1-mile run, the 13-mile bike ride and then another 2-mile run. Iit’s that he has an extra interest in making sure the race goes off smoothly. Baskfield also happens to be the president of the board of the Lake Crystal Area Recreation Center, which puts on the event as a fund raiser.

The center used to sponsor the Lake Crystal Triathlon, but that never really caught on the way the board hoped it would. There’s a lot of competition for triathletes in the area and around the state each summer, and Lake Crystal’s race just didn’t seem to have the attraction that others did.

“We would listen to people after the triathlon and we were hearing from a lot of them that the water quality in Loon Lake didn’t seem to be the greatest,” Baskfield said. “The quality is not bad but the perception was it wasn’t great either. Plus, our event was usually one of the first ones in the spring so the water was a little colder.”

Baskfield said he and his fellow board members began looking at other options and decided in early 2012 to switch to a duathlon (run-bike-run). There are plenty of bike races, plenty of foot races and plenty of triathlons in the area, but Lake Crystal’s race is believed to be the only duathlon in south-central Minnesota.

The decision to switch wasn’t an easy one. The Lake Crystal Triathlon had a loyal, albeit small, group of competitors who enjoyed coming back every year. But the LCARC board knew that if it wanted to grow the event something had to change.

Carla Lind, an employee of the LCARC who is charged with organizing the duathlon, said the idea was to try to appeal to a broader range of people.

“The thinking was, if we take the swim out of the equation, we might get more people involved,” she said.

In 2012’s inaugural duathlon, a little less than 90 people participated. It began under threatening weather and finished amid a pretty heavy rain storm that forced race organizers to pull some of the last few runners off the course.

“We think the weather may have hurt our day-of-race signups last year,” Baskfield said. “Our goal is to get over 100 people this year.”

Baskfield is a veteran of numerous triathlons and knows that is usually takes a few years for a race to become established. The theory is, after the first one, the word starts to spread and that continues the next year and so on until it becomes an event plan for well in advance.

“Our goal is get up to about 300 participants,” Baskfield said. “I can tell you as a participant that it’s a nice, flat course that should appeal to a lot of people.

“It’s been a long winter for everybody. If the weather cooperates we’re excited by the potential turnout we can get this year.”

If you go ... What: 2013 Lake Crystal Duathlon When: 8:15 a.m., Saturday, May 25 Where: Lake Crystal Area Recreation Center Details: Event includes a 3.1-mile run, 13-mile bike and 2-mile run for adults. There is also a kids 1-mile fun run at 10:30 a.m. Entry fee: Registration in advance is $50 per individual and $70 per relay team. The family rate is $70. On race day, entry fee is $60 per individual, $80 per relay team and $75 family rate. Kids run fee is $15 in advance and $20 day of race. Sign-up: Registration forms are available at the LCARC and online at lcarc.com. Information is also available by calling 507-726-6730.