by Vicki Ikeogu
In just a few short months hundreds of multisport athletes will be lacing up their running shoes and checking over their bikes as they prepare to participate in the 36th annual Apple Duathlon.
“It’s one of the most well-known duathlons in the country,” said Joel Dahlin, Apple Duathlon board member.
Hosted during Memorial Day weekend, the Apple Duathlon tests multisport athletes with a 5K run, a 33K bike ride and another 5K run to the finish.
And this year, Dahlin hopes to attract even more local participants with the event’s new sprint race.
“It’s just for fun,” he said. “We are just trying to make a new race to hopefully get new people involved and for older people who don’t want to do the full distance anymore.”
Unlike the regular Apple, the sprint race is quite a bit shorter. Athletes will run the first 5K with the rest of the Apple participants and will start the bike portion off with them. However, Dahlin said, the sprint race participants will take a much shorter bike course, ending their race with a 15.5K bike ride.
“We find that some people feel intimidated by the big, long course,” Dahlin said. “So, we are trying to get new people into the multisport. We think it’s a good introductory race for them. We are going to try to make the whole event friendly for first-timers.”
Apple Duathlon festivities kick off on Friday, May 25, with short (0.3-mile run, 2.65-mile bike ride and a 0.3-mile run) and long (0.5-mile run, 4.5-mile bike and 0.5-mile run) courses for kids ages 6 to 15. The Apple Duathlon also has a short Apple Seedlings parking lot run for kids ages 3 to 6.
“We get a ton of kids who come out and do it,” Dahlin said. “They all love to do it. And I think it also helps get the family out doing something fun, too.”
The main and sprint race take place on Saturday, May 26. Both 5K runs and the bike rides start and finish at Sartell Middle School.
“Obviously the majority (of our participants) are from Minnesota,” Dahlin said. “We get some from the Midwest. But we do get people from all over the country.”
And that includes some top athletes who have even gone on to compete on the national and international scale.
“We have been a part of the USA Triathlon series,” Dahlin said. “And we’ve held the national qualifier here in the past.”
Dahlin said the money raised during the two-day event helps fund area scholarships and has recently gone toward the purchase of 21 Share the Road signs that will be put up around the community this year.
“And our plan this year from the money that we earn, we are going to be helping out an individual, through an application process, who has been injured and can no longer bike with regular equipment. So, we will be helping that person purchase some adaptive equipment.”
Training is already underway for many athletes. But for those looking for a fun, less competitive option to start their journey to becoming a duathlon competitor, Dahlin said there is still plenty of time to prepare and sign up.
“Anyone can do it,” Dahlin said. “It might take a little training, but anyone can. Just try it out and see if you like it.”
Registration for the Apple Duathlon individual age group and sprint race is $68.90 for individuals through March 4, $74.20 from March 4 through April 29, and $100.70 from April 30 through May 21. Athletes can register at appleduathlon.org.
The Apple Duathlon, started by Rich Schwegel and Daryl Stevens, debuted as a smaller scale race in St. Cloud’s Whitney Park during the fall of 1983. In 1994 the event was moved to Sartell and restructured to its current run-bike-run style and has since served as a World Duathlon Championship qualifying in 2009 and 2013.
Vicki Ikeogu is a local freelance reporter from St. Cloud. Ikeogu is a 2015 mass communications graduate from St. Cloud State University. Ikeogu was previously the business reporter at the St. Cloud Times. She currently works as a transportation planner for the Saint Cloud Area Planning Organization.