Based on the participation in the 2003 Memorial Day Tsalteshi Triathlon, the event may be back to stay. After a three year hiatus the challenging triathlon competition was resurrected last weekend by retired Coach John Steckel, "It was fabulous, we had all of the organizational factors in place, we publicized it at all the schools, it turned out to be a nice day, and we drew big numbers which we were keeping our fingers crossed for, and it was a big success," said Steckel. The Mini-Triathlon, for those 6th grade and younger, had 19 individual participants and 15 teams of three. The Open Triathlon drew 72 finishers and 30 teams of three, for a total of 226 participants in the revised event.
The last year the Tsalteshi Triathlon was held, was in 1999. As the new millennium dawned, road construction forced the 2000 race to be canceled. Steckel modified the race from road to mountain bikes, which allowed the race to stay right at the Tsalteshi trails behind Skyview high school, and avoided DOT permitting for the race. The community came out in strong support of the revived event, "We had great support from the Soldotna Rotary with the barbeque and Kenai Cruisers provided the food and the Soldotna Chamber provided tent, and a lot of volunteers running the event came out from all walks of life, so it was a great cross section of the community supporting the event," said Steckel, who hopes that the strong comeback of the event will make the Central Peninsula a Memorial Day destination for out of town visitors.
The race not only offered a friendly family fun event, but a thrilling finish in the women's category with Ari Goldstein of Soldotna winning in 54 minutes 13 seconds. A few days earlier, Goldstein set a new SoHi school record by finishing 3rd in the 800-meter run with a time of 2 minutes, 16.87 seconds. Goldstein used every bit of her running speed to catch up and pass Carly Reimer, an Assistant Ski Coach at SoHi who had gained an impressive lead in the bike portion of the race.
Swimmers got to see former SoHi swimming star Lucas Peterson back in the pool and out 49 seconds ahead of his closest competitor, Peterson is now a junior on the University of Minnesota swim team. Ron Larsen of Anchorage however, took the lead away from Peterson on his mountain bike and came in to win the men's division. Larsen said he loved the race, but will not be back to defend his title next year, as he is moving to Virginia.
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