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I grew up there and do a summer visit every year and combine it w/a race. Usually I do Lifetime Fitness, but, I won't do a race w/o USAT sanctioning (for the AA points), so, I'd like to know about another one. Hopefully not so far north. I may end up in Wisconsin, however.
I could break the course record - theoretically, Bishop Pickering - from the movie "Caddyshack"
Lifetime fitness did a great job considering the size of the race. I feel they were one of the best large race RDs for quite awhile.
De Soto Sport Athlete
First, the people putting it on were great. You can tell they love this stuff and that's why they do it.
Jumping off of the ferry was way more fun than I would have guessed. The lead-up is so different than dithering around a beach while everybody pretends not to pee themselves. Since the swim is in a bay (I'm probably using the wrong term) it was more warm and calm than typical Lake Superior.
The run course is 90% along the edge of the lake on a scenic path. There's people walking their dogs or on rental bikes cheering you on. The bike course returns right along the lake on the same road as the Grandma's Marathon course. It was freshly repaved last year with very little vehicular traffic. I wasn't wild about the first and last couple miles getting in and out of town. Lots of turns with some sidewalk/bike path type stuff, but it was pretty free and clear the rest of the route.
The logistics were super easy. The hotels, restaurants and parking right next to the race area are pricey, but I found a very clean (and large) Motel 6 room 5-10 minutes from the race for under $100. The Duluth Grill sharing the same parking lot was also a good choice. Simple drive in the morning, large parking area next to the race, and brief walk to transition. Last year they gave out passes to a nearby gym/health club so I could shower before driving back to Illinois. I'm not sure if that's normal, but it was appreciated.
I don't think I would drove 6 hours each way solo again, but I would definitely go back for this one if I had somebody to split the drive with.
The first triathlon ever where I can say the swim was my favorite part. Who doesn't want to jump off a boat?
Graniteman series are fun but offer great raffle/giveaway prizes after the awards ceremony. Giving away entire bikes before at Graniteman (new Tri bike one year, new fatbike another, HED 3 front afterwards and other races giving away a HED Disc). Graniteman Clearwater has a point to point swim (start on one side of lake and swim across).
Lake Minnetonka Triathlon is awesome too and a well run Sprint distance race (one of those point to point swims too). Another fun one is the Square Lake Triathlon with a modified longer distance sprint (1/2 mile swim, 16-18 mile bike, 5 mile run) or a 1/2 Iron distance type race (nasty steep short hills in some areas from what I hear as anybody who has been in downtown Stillwater, MN will know how some of those roads are).
I've done the Toughman in Chisago prior to it being taken over from them and was an independent race. That was well run the year I did it (short distance only). I've heard good things about Superior Man in Duluth, MN too.
Like another has stated check out the Minnesota Tri News site as they list all the Tri's and Duathlons in the area.
I have raced almost every triathlon in Minnesota over the last 20 years and my favorites are:
* Timberman in Grand Rapids - best lake to swim in (on par with Mirror Lake (IM Lake Placid) and Lake Tahoe), and awesome bike course
* Heart of the Lakes in Annandale - absolute best race organization of any race I have ever done
* Apple Duathlon - yes a Du, but good venue and great organization; can't beat having the school locker rooms available post race to shower before driving home!
* Buffalo - big early season race and they do a good job organizing everything
* Northwoods in Nevis - awesome small town race
Bottom line, there are great big time (1000 racers) races (Life Time, Buffalo, Annandale) and excellent smaller races. You want metro Twin Cities races? Lake Minnetonka, Life Time, Maple Grove. You like small town races away from the city? Timberman, Northwoods, Brewhouse, etc... Any of the Half Iron races have their pros: Liberty is a solid early season race set 25 minutes outside of Minneapolis at a park with a nice bike and run route with minimal traffic. Superior Man has the cool swim start, scenic run course (lakewalk, aerial bridge) and the bike course has 50 miles of fast riding with a couple miles in and out of town to deal with. Chisago has the big race atmosphere with close to 1000 people racing with the sprint, and the bike course has some solid hills.
For anyone thinking of racing in MN, feel free to message me with any more detailed question on a race!
Want a big time race with the big time feel? Life Time.
Want a smaller laid back race? Green Lake, Granite Man, Lake Minnetonka, Timberman, etc...
Any and all distances you want to try from sprint to half iron are available.
I need to get out and try the Hoot Lake Tri in Fergus Falls sometime. Maybe this year!
I did the tri in Perham in 2016 but the swim was a joke with most people just walk/running through the waist-deep water.
Don't forget to unclip!