Students and community members participate in indoor triathlon

UW-Eau Claire’s Triathlon Club hosted the Blizzard Blast Indoor Triathlon this past weekend

Taylor Reisdorf

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March 25, 2020

Photo by Kar Wei Cheng

The triathlon consisted of a 500-yard swim, an eight-mile stationary bike and a two-mile run.

From 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. this past Sunday, the UW-Eau Claire Triathlon Club hosted the Blizzard Blast Indoor Triathlon at McPhee Strength and Performance Center.

Student and community athletes came together to swim 500 yards in the McPhee Pool, bike eight miles using the stationary bikes in the new cycling studio in Hilltop Center and run two miles on the indoor track in the Ade Olson Addition of McPhee.

The participants were split into five waves based on their estimated 100-yard swim times, according to the event page. Each wave consisted of up to 10 people.

The first wave started at 8:15 a.m and the triathlon ended with a beginner wave, said Ken Ellingsen, the event director and senior physics student at UW-Eau Claire.

In total, Ellingsen said there were about 35 participants.

Planning for this weekend’s event started just over a year ago, Ellingsen said, but the Blizzard Blast isn’t new to the Eau Claire campus.

The Triathlon Club, which has been on campus since fall of 2010, had organized the event before, he said. However, they had to stop because the Recreation Department sold all of the stationary bikes that tracked distance. The last indoor triathlon on campus was held in 2014, Ellingsen said.

Last year, the Recreation Department purchased new stationary bikes that do track distance, which Ellingsen said the Triathlon Club took advantage of.

“It’s been kind of an idea since our sophomore year,” Ellingsen said. “Once we found out recreation got the new bikes, that really got the ball rolling, and here we are now.”

While no prizes were given out this year to those with the fastest times, Ellingsen said they plan to do the event again next year. He said they hope the prior experience gained from this year will allow for further possibilities, like prizes, in the future.

“There was so much that went into bringing it back again,” Ellingsen said. “That’s what the focus was on.”

While the race had no age restrictions, it did have a height requirement, Lily Cook, a member of the Triathlon Club and senior actuarial science student, said.

“The bikes can only go so low,” Cook said. “So if you’re tall enough to ride the cycle bikes, you can do it.”

While Ellingsen didn’t participate in this particular event, he said he’s completed more than 20 triathlons since he started competing six years ago.

Cook, on the other hand, participated in the event. She said she’s completed about eight triathlons, mostly outdoor races, since joining the Triathlon Club as a first-year student.

Indoor triathlons are quite different from outdoor ones, Cook said.

“The distances are a lot shorter and there are breaks between each leg, unlike outdoor ones where your transition time counts towards your race time,” Cook said.

Cook said she enjoys triathlons because they allow participants to switch up what their doing throughout the race, which functions as a distraction from the race itself. She also said she likes the motivation that comes from working with other people.

She particularly enjoyed participating in this event, she said, because it had a lot less pressure than an outdoor race.

“It was really fun to race with my friends and some club alumni came back which was really cool,” Cook said.

Chris Martinson, also a club member and a fifth-year kinesiology student at Eau Claire, was another race participant. He said that while the triathlon was tiring, it was a lot of fun and an overall success. This triathlon went a lot faster than previous ones he has participated in, he said.

While it was a good experience for him overall, he said there is always room for improvement.

“I had great times and everything, but you always want to do better,” Martinson said.

Like Cook, Martinson said his only training for the event came from club practices. The club runs on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays; cycles on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and swims on Sundays and Thursdays, she said.

All in all, Martinson said he encourages others, no matter their experience, to ‘try a tri.’