North Country Triathlon Comes into its Own
When the last athlete crosses the finish line at the fifth annual North Country Triathlon in Hague this June, among those cheering will be Nancy Williams, the executive director of the Lake George Land Conservancy.
“The North Country Triathlon is a fantastic event that showcases the woods and waters that everyone works so hard to protect,” said Williams. “It brings a new audience to the lake, ready to embrace the region in a new way.”
This year, Williams will have further reason to cheer the triathlon.
According to Randy Engler, the event’s founder, the Lake George Land Conservancy has been selected to be a beneficiary of this year’s triathlon.
The triathlon could raise as much as $5,000 for the Conservancy in 2011, and even more in successive years as the event continues to grow said Engler.
“We’re psyched, being able to support the Lake George Land Conservancy,” said Engler. “We depend upon its work. If the lake were compromised, we couldn’t have a triathlon here. And open space is important. When I look across the lake and see nothing but the moon and the stars, I can visualize what it was like here hundreds of years ago.”
The race, which has grown in size every year, has become one of Hague’s leading, signature events, said Engler.
This year, Engler said, approximately 500 racers from 15 states and four countries will compete in front of 1000 spectators and volunteers.
And, while the event is based in Hague, Engler and Kelly O’Neil-Teer, the event’s new co-ordinator for sponsorships, have been busy extending the triathlon’s economic reach.
“We want our racers, their families and friends to explore the entire Lake George corridor,” said Engler.
Among the communities where they hope the athletes and their families will stay, dine and shop is Bolton Landing, where they’ve been meeting with local business owners.
“Bolton Landing’s response has been overwhelming,” said Engler. “It may take a year or two, but we think the triathlon has the potential to be a great, shoulder season event for the entire region.”
The North Country Tiathlon already come a long way since Engler first conceived of the idea.
But it’s still very much as he imagined it.
“I wanted to build a high-quality, environmentally low-impact race that showed respect for the community and would be of benefit to the community,” said Engler.
The idea came to him, he said, after he left the internet giant Ebay and was searching for something new and meaningful to do.
“I was out cycling near my home, and the light came on! A triathlon! As someone who loves cycling and swimming, It seemed like something I could and should do. I knew that while I had never built a race, I could probably figure out the logistics,” he said.
Engler knew that he wanted his triathlon to be an alternative to the mega-events drawing ten thousand athletes, and he wanted to base it in Hague.
“I’ve been coming to Hague every summer, just as my father, my uncles and aunts did when they were children,” said Engler. “I got the chance to grow up as every kid should grow up, out of doors from morning to night; the broken bones and bruised shins were part of the fun.”
Engler starting working on the event a year before it was launched – talking to local officials and business owners and recruiting volunteers.
“Our first year, we had seventy volunteers; to me, that was amazing. But volunteers make the difference between a good course and a great course.
Their support gives the athletes an extra kick and helps make the event the intimate and the well-organized race that it’s become. And it provides a way for the community to come out, get together and see everyone,” he said.
“Word is really getting around that the North Country Triathlon is different from other races in a number of ways. We are a relatively small race in terms of overall numbers, but racers are finding this to be a huge plus. They’re a serious bunch, very competitive, but this event brings out the camaraderie. The racers look forward to seeing each other,” he said.
This year’s North Country Triathlon will be held on June 25. Sponsors include the Town of Hague, Green Mountain Coffee, Silver Bay YMCA, Codino’s Foods, Lake George Mirror, Hague Chamber of Commerce, Warren Country Board of Tourism, MojoMotors.com, XTERRA Wetsuits, IZZE Sparkling Juices, TD Bank, and Zatista.com.
For race registration, volunteer opportunities, sponsor requests and other information visit the North Country Triathlon’s website, northcountrytri.com.