Hubbard Lake to host Triathlon

HUBBARD LAKE – A popular Olympic triathlon event is coming back to Hubbard Lake after a decade-long absence, and could help add vitality to the community.

The event, sanctioned by USA Triathlon, will be held at 8 a.m. Aug. 5, Danielle Belanger, one of the organizers, said. The course consists of a 0.93-mile swim at the south end of the lake, followed by a 24.8-mile bicycle ride around the lake. The final portion of the race is a 6.2-mile run through back roads from North End Park on Hubert Road.

At the urging of the Caledonia Township board, and Alcona Community Schools Superintendent Shawn Thornton, Belanger took on the task of putting the event together as part of her career goal as a Central Michigan University student. The 21-year-old is being assisted by another CMU student, David Cole, and Joy Bullis, cross country coach at Alpena High School.

Belanger said she has been visiting Hubbard Lake since she was in sixth grade, and spends time at her family’s cottage at the lake’s south end.

“It’s a place that I’ve loved my entire life and I want to be able to see this community grow,” she said. “A driving force for this event is to really give back to the community.”

Belanger and her team are hoping to attract at least 100 participants this year, and have picked up two sponsors so far – Home Depot and Huron Distributors.

Racers will be charged a fee to enter, and can advance in nationwide standings. Those who want to do the entire course will pay $100 in advance; participants interested only in cycling will pay $45 and those who only want to run will be charged $40, she said. On July 7, those rates go up.

All participants will receive a T-shirt and first, second and third finishers among men and women will receive awards.

Joe Gentry was director of the race for 10 years, and said it was traditionally held on the last Saturday in June, attracting 200 to 300 competitors a year.

“It’s a great course, with the cleanest water in Michigan,” he said.

The bicycle course at the south end of the lake also is hilly, which prevents the racers from forming a pack and using one another’s draft to rest, he said.

“The south end of the lake separates the boys from the men,” Gentry said.

However, participation eventually dwindled, because numerous other races sprang up in Michigan, he said. The site also poses several challenges, because there aren’t adequate motel accommodations for hundreds of racers. So racers have to drive in to participate.

Belanger said she was inspired to move forward by family friends ShawnThornton and Caledonia Treasurer Gailen Thornton.

“It was just a lot of fun,” Shawn Thornton said, recalling races in the past. “The racers stopped at the businesses and the community all came out.”