13th annual Omaha Triathlon welcomes back spectators

Athletes participate in the 13th annual Omaha Triathlon
Published: Jul. 17, 2022 at 2:23 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Over 350 athletes swam, pedaled and ran to the finish line for the 13th annual Omaha Triathlon Sunday.

The kids triathlon on Saturday and the teen/adult race on Sunday both returned to Lake Cunningham. Some athletes were in their seventies, others were teens competing for the High School Nebraska championships.

“We’ve got people from all over the country that travel to do these races just because it’s part of their lifestyle,” said Assistant Race Director, Derek Schuler. ”It’s what they like to do and it’s what keeps them active and healthy.”

Jill Pearce started competing in triathlons in 2009 and has done one every year since. When she wrapped up her college swimming career, she wanted to find a way to stay in shape.

“Got into triathlons, did my first one in Lincoln. I finished and I said ‘when’s the next one” says Pearce. “I just really loved training for it because it balanced the different disciplines and I wasn’t doing the same thing like running every day or swimming every day,”

Sunday she took on the Sprint Triathlon: a 750-meter swim, a 12-mile bike and a 5K run.

“Either people just want to try something new and challenge themselves or it’s something that they’ve gotten hooked on. It’s that summer goal and it keeps you working on throughout the year because you know you have that race in the summertime. I don’t know, because it is kind of a crazy sport but that’s why I keep coming out!”

The race was able to continue these past two years, even during a pandemic. But it looked a lot different.

“We didn’t allow any spectators, we didn’t have any sponsors that were allowed on or at the course, we made sure if they [volunteers] were handing out water that they were gloved and masked, we had our own staff wearing face masks,” says Schuler. “We just wanted to make sure that everybody felt comfortable, but they were also able to race.”

This year friends and family were allowed to cheer athletes on in-person, something Schuler says is needed during a tough course.

“Coming out of that water after that swim is one of the worst things ever, especially if it’s a hot day and having family, friends, the Westside High School football team here, cheering them on and giving them a lot of energy as they’re coming out of the water, or coming off of the bike or going out on the run or finishing the race, is just an astronomical thing that these athletes really need to help them get that motivation to strive for that finish line.”

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