Imagine kayaking across beautiful Lake Zumbro, mountain biking and then running through the trails of Camp Victory—all in a morning. That’s the plan on August 14, the date of the Rochester Eco-Tri.
In a standard triathlon, participants swim, bike and run their way to the finish line. The Eco-Tri is 4.5 miles of kayaking, 7 miles of mountain biking and 3.1 miles of trail running.
Last year, about 70 competitors participated in the first Eco-Tri. Organizer Jon Zimmerman estimates that about 40 percent were women.
One of these women was Anna Stroud of Rochester. She raced with her husband, her brother-in-law and her 12-year-old nephew and said it was the “hardest race I’ve ever done, but I like that kind of stuff.”
What motivated her? “I love that weird challenge of… am I going to make this?” She also said she was curious about the unusual activities and the certain complexity.
The Eco-Tri terrain was anything but ordinary. The bike route included a large hill, and while many participants had to walk their bikes up, she ran while pushing her bike up. Then she had to ride down that same hill, making sure not to catch any part of her bike or her body on tree branches or slip down the side of the hill.
Anna has always been active, participating in sports in high school and majoring in exercise management in college. Her master’s degree is in recreation management and she works full-time at the Rochester Athletic Club as the director of the Neighborhood. Now in her thirties, she needs more exercise than when she was younger. She has some joint issues and says that Pilates and regular exercise (with goals like races) helps alleviate the discomfort.
She had never participated in a triathlon until two years ago when she and her husband were convinced by another couple to do one in Iowa. She was hooked instantly and has done several multiple-sport races since.
The idea for the event came after Zimmerman, his brother and a friend attended an “off-road” triathlon in Iowa.
They wanted to bring the same kind of challenging race—but one that anyone
could do—to the Rochester area.
The mountain biking course was more intense than they had originally envisioned. Because of the layout of the land, they didn’t have many options. This year, because of some flooding damage, the course will be modified, and Zimmerman hopes it will be less difficult.
The race is advertised as family friendly, and any skill level is welcome, though Zimmerman says mountain biking experience is an advantage.
Part of the adventure is the transitions between events. After kayaking, participants hurry to a station that they’ve preset with towels and water bottles. They rinse and dry their feet, slip on socks and shoes and grab their helmets and bikes. After the biking portion, they ditch their bikes and take to the trails for the running portion.
Participants loved the challenge. Stroud gets great satisfaction simply from participating and completing races. She encourages starting small and believes that everyone can take part in races if they’re motivated. “You don’t have to be an athlete to do the races.”
If you’re inspired to try for yourself, visit rochesterecotri.com. Kayaks are available for rental, but you’ll need to provide your own mountain bike and running shoes. Oh, and a healthy desire for adventure.
Emily Watkins writes and dances in Rochester. She’s going to try her first running-only race this summer. Eco-Tri? Maybe next time.