RANIER After taking a year off in 2018, a triathlon returned to Ranier Saturday as competitors competed in the Great Up North Triathlon.

After the Backus Triathlon was discontinued last year, local fitness and wellness business Evolve U decided to create the triathlon.

One of the event organizers, Ashley Hall, said they were inspired by a group of racers who gathered last summer to race the event in an unofficial capacity.

“Last year a group of people went out and did the triathlon on their own with no timing and no director. They just swam, biked and ran on their own,” she said. “After we heard that we knew this was a special event that this community needed.”

Hall said she also wanted to start up the race because of her own experiences in the Backus Triathlon.

“I competed in the triathlon in 2017 and I felt so empowered when I was done,” she said. “I want everyone to feel that and know they can do anything they put their mind too.”

The race course contained a quarter-mile swim, a 15-mile bike ride and running on foot to the end of Highway 20 and back, with the starting and finish lines at City Beach.

Crossing the finish line first overall with a time of 1 hour and 8 minutes was Duluth native Rod Raymond, who said he immensely enjoyed competing against the other challengers.

“It was a great course and I think they put on a great race up here,” he said. “I think this will be a destination race in the future.”

Coming in second among the men was Bob Shine from Thunder Bay, a triathlon veteran, who said these races never get easier.

“They never get any easier, but they’re all fun,” he said. “A small event like this that has a lot of spectators is always fun. Now we get to see the parade which is a bonus.”

The first team to cross the finish line consisted of women from International Falls.

Jen Lahmayer handled the swimming, Danni Aili did the biking and Dexi Maxa finished the race on foot.

“I was about dead on my feet by the time I finished,” Maxa said. “However, I also had a personal goal I wanted to beat. On my watch I was a few seconds off so I hope the official timing is more in my favor.”

The first individual female competitor to cross the finish line was Carolanne Stone from International Falls, who said she had been training for the triathlon throughout the summer.

“The past few months I was training for the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, so I had the running down, it came down to getting my biking legs back and getting used to the water,” she said.

Hall said she thinks the first year of the Great Up North Triathlon was a big success.

“The turnout was amazing,” she said. “We are so pleased with how many people signed up and competed. We had wonderful feedback from the competitors. Everyone was so appreciative and supportive.”

Complete results from the triathlon can be found on B2.

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