Backcountry off-road triathlon planned Saturday at Rockport

Xterra Rockport Rugged – it’s a triathlon that defines the word rugged. Join other rugged athletes for the backcountry off-road event racing over roots, rocks and the mighty Lake Huron.

This adventure triathlon takes place Saturday at Rockport State Recreation Area. It highlights the rough and rugged terrain of Rockport. The event site was chosen for its unique topographical characteristics, undeveloped natural beauty and the challenge of on- and off-trail routes.

The event steps outside the typical triathlon experience in a number of ways:

∫ Open water swim course in Lake Huron

∫ Bike and run courses take the athlete over roots and rocks with a portion of the race leading through the forest off of designated trails

∫ Separate kayak and stand up paddleboard race options instead of the swim

∫ Olympic, sprint and relay options

∫ The race course goes through an abandoned limestone quarry

Rockport Rugged has earned the coveted Xterra designation. Xterra is a series of premier off-road triathlons and trail running races with events worldwide. Event hosts have engaged 3Disciplines, a premier race management company to assist with race routing and logistics. 3Disciplines has managed more than 460 race events across the United States.

“For years we’ve wanted to feature Alpena’s untouched natural beauty in an outdoor race experience. The Rockport terrain is the perfect canvas for an Xterra event because it is rough and undeveloped,” said event co-host Casey Stutzman of Performance Locker. “This won’t be your typical triathlon. Don’t expect any well-worn paths or paved roads. This is rugged racing in its most natural form. It’s going to be a wild and exciting experience for the athletes.”

Stutzman added that the event will appeal to both novice and experienced athletes with multiple entry and distance options.

The event is hosted by Friends of Rockport State Recreation Area and Performance Locker with support from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. All proceeds benefit the Friends of Rockport for future park improvements.

“This is going to be a great way for our group to raise necessary funds to assist with improvements to this park. Rockport has a lot going on,” said co-host Carol Dodge Grohowski of the Friends of Rockport. “The park is over 4,000 acres and includes a shipwreck, ghost village, abandoned limestone quarry, a bat hibernaculum, sinkholes, deep water fishing and even fossils from over 400 million years ago.

Dodge said you would be hard pressed to find this diversity of terrain and experiences on one piece of property anywhere else.

“We’ve also recently been designated as a Michigan Dark Sky Preserve because of the opportunity to view the beauty of the night sky unspoiled by light pollution,” she said.

More information is available on the 3 Disciplines Rockport Rugged events website at www.3disciplines.com. Contact Stutzman at casey@performancelocker.com or Dodge at friendsofrockport@hotmail.com for more information as well.

A recreation passport is required for all vehicles.