Local residents should be wary of several hundred athletes bicycling on county roads and running on city streets Saturday morning as they participate in the 10th annual Waupaca Area Triathlon.
Local law enforcement will direct traffic and event volunteers will be stationed at key intersections between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. The triathlon will start at 7 a.m. at South Park.
A significant course change has been made this year to direct all the cyclists from County Road E onto Spencer Lake Road. Long course riders will then head south on East Road. Three miles later, they will turn right onto Crystal Lake Road and return to Waupaca on County Road K and Crystal and Shadow roads.
This course change will remove from the original course about three miles of County E, where increasingly rough pavement has become a concern for riders and event organizers.
City Administrator Henry Veleker said postcards were sent to residents on Spencer Lake and East roads informing them the course has been rerouted due to safety concerns. The postcards included the approximate time of the race; asked recipients to look out for bicyclists; and to check the triathlon website, www.waupacaareatriathlon.com, for more details.
Participating triathletes are also advised to be cautious on the course, especially on County E, where cracks and patch work can present hazards.
The course change “still leaves about two miles of rough County E from County Trunk EE to Spencer Lake Road,” race director Bruce Pierson said. “We want bikers to know that they will need to watch the road closely and use caution to minimize the chances of pinch flats. We will have the mobile repair van over in that section, but it will not be able to respond immediately to all requests.”
The triathlon short course will remain the same as it was when introduced last year. Short course riders will leave town via County E and turn right on Spencer Lake Road. They will stay on Spencer Lake Road until they merge with the long course on County K heading north. All riders will cut over on Danielson Road to Crystal and Shadow roads and return to the park on State Highway 22.
The long course route change will be discussed at course talks all participants are encouraged to attend at South Park Friday afternoon and evening. South Park will again serve as the start, finish and transition area for the triathlon.
Long course competitors will begin with a half-mile swim in Shadow Lake. Following them, short course racers will swim a quarter mile.
With the swim completed, participants will leave the park on their bikes on Main Street. They will then take Lake and Berlin (County E) streets, which will be closed to motor vehicles.
While the triathlon is under way, motorists will also be discouraged from entering town on Highway 22. Instead they will detoured to the Churchill Street or Fulton Street exits off of U.S. Highway 10. Those who must enter town on Highway 22 should proceed cautiously. Orange cones will delineate a lane for the cyclists. A block before South Park, motorists will be directed up High Street to downtown Waupaca.
Racers will trade their bikes for running shoes at South Park and head back out on Main, Lake and Berlin streets. The runners will then turn left on Park Street. Short course racers will follow a two-mile course by turning left on Seventh Street and left on Demarest Avenue before turning right on Berlin Street and returning to the park via Lake and Main streets.
The long course, which includes a three-mile run, will have competitors continue on Park Street, turn right on Ninth Street, left on Riverside Drive and left on 10th Street. Four blocks later, they will turn left on Royalton Street, left on Eighth Street, right on Demarest Avenue and back to Berlin, Lake and Main streets to the finish line.
The Waupaca Area Kids Triathlon will take place Friday, impacting traffic around South Park for about 90 minutes starting at 5:30 p.m. Because vehicles of many participating families will be parked along Washington Street, local residents should plan on using High Street at that time.
More complete information about the triathlon course can be found at www.waupacaareatriathlon.com.
Joel Patenaude is a member of the Waupaca Area Triathlon Board of Directors.