11th installment of Luray Triathlon to draw thousands this weekend

Page News and Courier

LURAY — Thousands will pack Lake Arrowhead this weekend during the 11th installment of the Luray Triathlon.

“The triathlon is our biggest event of the year,” said Luray Parks and Recreation Director Pat O'Brien. “It's our most logistically complicated event, but it's probably the most important event to the town, due to economic benefits and the exposure it brings.”

Since the inaugural event in 2006, the annual triathlon has grown from less than 300 triathletes during a single-day race, to more than 1,000 during a two-day competition, said the triathlon's owner Ken Racine of Racine Multisports.

This year, about 1,200 athletes are expected, Racine added, including returning champion and pro triathlete Adam Otstot, who will defend his two-year reign. Several other professional triathletes are expected to compete in both Saturday's international race and Sunday's sprint. Saturday's race will additionally serve as the Mid-Atlantic USA Triathlon's 2016 Club Regional Championship.

“The sport of triathlon is experiencing a 10-percent reduction in participants across the nation, yet the number of races recently grew by 10 percent,” said Racine, who took over the Luray Triathlon two years ago. “In Luray, the fact that we're holding steady bodes well when many other races are seeing a decline.”

Racine attributed Luray's high turnout to the beauty of Lake Arrowhead and its scenic surroundings, as well as the support of the town and community members.

“We put on a lot of races in other areas and by far, Luray is the most supportive,” Racine said.

O'Brien said the event is a “win-win” for event organizers and participants as well as the town and local residents, noting increased visitation to the area not only during race weekend, but throughout the year.

Including family members and spectators, about 3,000 people are expected to turnout to Lake Arrowhead between Saturday and Sunday, said Racine. Most of them, added O'Brien, will dine, shop and stay locally.

Each year, the triathlon donates part of its proceeds to several community agencies and nonprofit organizations, including the United Way of Page County.

In exchange for staffing the event with many of its needed volunteers, makes a donation to the local United Way chapter. Since 2009, the Luray Triathlon has contributed more than $60,000 to the the umbrella agency.

The triple-threat endurance event kicks off at 8 a.m. Saturday at Lake Arrowhead. The international race includes a loop swim, followed by a 41-kilometer bike ride through area roads and a 10-kilometer run. Sunday's shorter sprint race will include a 750-meter swim, a 27-kilometer bike ride and a 5-kilometer run.

More than $5,000 in cash prize purses will be offered at the 2016 installment. A new “fastest local” award will recognize the top three men and top three women from Page County.

With large crowds expected this weekend, area officials expect heavy traffic volume in and around the Lake Arrowhead area both Saturday and Sunday, with the busiest times being between 8 a.m. and noon. The main park entrance will be closed when the race starts for athletes entering and exiting the park.

The running and biking courses, which include area roads, will be clearly marked and manned by volunteers, with busier intersections overseen by local law enforcement. Drivers should use caution.

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