Eau Claire Triathlon

first-ever local endurance event may become an annual happening

Bailey Berg, photos by Michael Bartsch

The Eau Claire Triathlon will feature a 500-meter swim, a 17-mile bike ride, and a 3.1-mile run.

With no less than a dozen well-established annual run/walks, the Chippewa Valley isn’t exactly short on biped athletic events. But in a few weeks it will have a new one to add to the list, and the very first of its kind.

On June 13, Eau Claire will host its first sprint distance triathlon. This new event, aptly titled Eau Claire Triathlon and spearheaded by Andy Ottum, will benefit Friends of the Orphans, the non-profit organization Ottum worked with through a mission trip in Honduras while in college. The organization supports nine homes serving more than 3,300 orphans and abandoned children throughout Central America and the Caribbean.

“We were talking about ways we could continue to help, so we started raising money, and the original 5k race just evolved into the triathlon,” Ottum said.

Competitors have the opportunity to compete individually or with a team. The race’s course includes a 500-meter swim in Half Moon Lake, a 17-mile bike ride through the rolling hills of the western Wisconsin countryside, and, finally, a 3.1-mile run through Carson Park.

The triathlon is different from other established races in the area because it gives competitors the option to compete either as an individual or as a team of three. “It really opens the door to more athletes this way,” Ottum said. “For those who are a little apprehensive, they’ll have the support of their team.”

Currently there are well over 100 competitors, although they’re anticipating more than 150 on race day. Awards will be given to the overall male and female finishers as well as the individual and team winners for each of the respective divisions. “We’ve had a lot of support from local businesses… we’re hoping to make this an annual event,” Ottum said.