HUBBARD LAKE-Northeast Michigan is quickly becoming a hotbed of extreme physical competitions of which this Saturday's Hubbard Lake Triathlon may be the most formidable.
It features three different competitions that should bring out a sweat in even the most in-shape Northeast Michigan athlete: an Olympic triathlon, a sprint triathlon and a bicycle race.
The most extreme event is the Olympic triathlon. This features a nearly one mile or 1 1/2 kilometer swim. It then progresses to a 20 mile or 40 kilometer bike race around Hubbard Lake and ends with a 6.5 mile or 10 kilometer run.
The sprint triathlon features the same three events, but at half the distance. The bicycle race is just a 20 mile race around Hubbard Lake.
"We added the sprint for people who are interested in the triathlon, but aren't sure they can handle the full Olympic distance," event organizer and Alpena High School cross country coach Joy Bullis said. "It helps expand interest in the tri to a larger group of people."
The Hubbard Lake Triathlon once was a regular competition held by the Dork Brothers, but has been on 10-plus-year hiatus.
Bullis was inspired to bring it back after reminiscing with event co-ordinator Danielle Bellanger.
"Bringing back the tri was heavily driven by Danielle. It was just something that Danielle remembered from when she was growing up from around here and asked me if I'd help her get it going again," Bullis said.
Last year's triathlon was not a strictly local phenomenon: Bullis estimated that around 70 percent of registered racers came from out of town. In fact, she remembers runners from Lansing and the Detroit area competing, although last year's winner was a runner from Oscoda.
"So far, for all three races, we've got around 60 participants registered to go. There were more runners than that last year, but about 50 percent of our registration came the day of the race, so I expect those numbers to go up," Bullis said.
One reason the Hubbard Lake triathlon may attract so many runners is that it's an Olympic-sanctioned event.
"What I really like about this race is that people could actually come here to qualify for the Olympic trials," she said. "I think it's really cool that we have a race of this caliber in the area. It has the chance to really draw a lot of people to the area."
Anybody interested in running in any of the three events can register at www.hubbardlaketriathlon.com. Fees for registering include an $85 fee for the Olympic triathlon, $75 for the sprint and $35 for the bicycle race.
Participants also can register on the day of the race at North End Park in Hubbard Lake. The Olympic triathlon starts at 8 a.m., the sprint at 8:30 a.m. and the bike race at 9 a.m.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.