HomeFitnessSuccess Stories › Conquering the UCare Tri-Loppet

A little over a year ago, I started to take biking relatively seriously -- at least compared to any other time in my life. I now use it to get to work a couple days per week, but mostly I enjoy going on a solid 15-30 mile ride on the roads or paved trails in our metro area to clear my head and get in a good workout. 

After all, I don’t belong to a gym and have yet to find a workout routine that has stuck, so biking ends up being the bulk of my exercise regimen in the summertime. 

A few months ago, I decided that I wanted to transfer the training I had been doing on my bike over to something tangible -- something where I could compete and try to reach a goal. That all led to me entering and completing my first ever race, the Tri-Loppet Off-Road Triathlon.

Like I mentioned above, biking is my thing -- or at least I thought it was -- which is why I opted for a triathlon instead of one of the more popular running races in town during the summer time. Also, if you know anything about me, you know that I am not a very “traditional” person, so I opted for a non-traditional Tri. The UCare Tri-Loppet is an off-road triathlon that features an 8K paddle, a 5K trail run and an 11K mountain bike ride, which is a slightly different format than many of the triathlons you've probably heard of. 

Now that I had a race picked out, all I had left to do was set a goal, start training and eventually readjust my goal based on my training. Early on, I wasn't all that confident in how this would go; I mean, it is roughly 16 total miles and much of that is on terrain I have never trained for, so my initial goal was to finish somewhere north of last place. As long as I finished and I wasn't the final man crossing the line, I would be OK. After a few weeks of training (2-3 bike rides/week and 1-2 runs) I realized I could set a time goal as well. I decided to shoot for two hours and 30 minutes. I knew this would put me at a pace that would challenge me without a doubt, but would be attainable it if I put in a lot of work. Here’s how it went.

For the paddle portion, I had the option of canoeing or kayaking so I chose to rent a single kayak. The lake was incredibly choppy as we started and fortunately I was able to make it through unscathed. I witnessed quite a few canoes tip as I was making my way through the first couple kilometers. As I made my way along the paddle, I certainly had some adrenaline on my side as I was able to keep a steady pace and put in a time I could be proud of. I finished the paddle portion in just over an hour and was ready to start Leg 2.  

The run was next, which was the part I was least excited for. The first mile or so actually went better than I thought. I knew I wasn’t going very fast, but I had decent energy and was staying positive. That is when the first of many steep hills entered the picture. It was never easy for me to get used to this aspect and it was at this point I understood how difficult it was going to be for me to reach my goal.  Toward the end of my run, the trail led us past Wellki headquarters which was definitely a treat when I needed a pick me up.  

Biking was a similar story to the run. It started out great and I was confident because cycling was my bread and butter. However, these trails were different than the trails I had trained on. They were muddier, steeper and extended portions were on grass which I hadn't prepared for. About 3 miles in, I really started to drag. There was rarely a flat portion on the course and it was constantly testing my agility and stamina. Add in the fact my chain fell off twice during this portion and I was pretty well exhausted.

When it was all said and done, I finished in a time of 2:36:48 -- almost seven minutes over my goal. It didn't matter. I finished and I was damn proud of myself.Despite missing my goal, I pushed myself to a physical limit I didn't know I could reach. Not only that, but I know most of the people around me were doing the exact same thing. It was then that I gained a true understanding of "race culture" and why people are so addicted to it. As phsyically difficult as it was, it was an entirely positive experience.  

I haven’t decided what to sign up for next, but I do know this will not be my last race. 


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