Despite its brief outdoor training season, the state of Minnesota has one of the highest per capita populations of triathletes in the country, and boasts more than 50 events every year.1 During a single weekend in 2007, 4,300 triathletes participated in various races throughout the state.2 Situated between two of Fairmont’s five lakes, scenic Gomsrud Park was home to one of Minnesota’s first triathlons.3
A triathlon by definition is a multisport event consisting of swimming, bicycling, and running. The concept of a three-part race is reputed to have originated in the 1920’s near Paris, France. However, it wasn’t until 1974 that the sport took hold in the United States, and not until 2000 that it became an Olympic event.4
In 1983, decades before the multisport boom, Fairmont was hosting its first triathlon. At the time, triathlons were such a novel concept that Fairmont’s event garnered attention in the first edition of Dr. Steven Jonas’ book “Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals” (1986). The Fairmont Triathlon went on to become a nationally sanctioned event with as many as 270 participants before being discontinued at the end of the 1989 season.
After an eighteen year hiatus, the Fairmont Triathlon was resurrected into an era of carbon-fiber bicycles, computerized timing chips, and motion-control running shoes. In 2007, nostalgic old-timers navigated the original course alongside athletes from six states. The idyllic race location and enthusiastic community support garnered praise from media and participants alike.
1Minnesota is estimated to have approximately 15,000 consistently active triathlon participants and an additional 15,000 who occasionally participate. (Kate Davis, outdoor athlete.com “Three Times the Fun” 2007)
2Midwest Events Magazine, July 15, 2007
3Triathlon Federation USA was founded in 1982. The Shoreview Turtleman triathlon originated in 1981. The Apple Duathlon in Sartell, MN was first held in 1983. The Twin Cities came on board with the City of Lakes Triathlon in 1984.
4The first triathlon on U.S. soil was held in Mission Bay, San Diego, CA in 1974.