Friday’s cloudy skies were a concern for the staff of Carbon County Recreation as they prepared for their 2nd Annual Lunatic Triathlon. They were worried that the clouds would obscure the full moon which is essential to the event, not because it takes a full moon to make people crazy enough to compete, but because the moon provides light needed to keep the already crazy competitors safe.
“You pretty much have to be crazy to do these things,” said local triathlete Mark Jesperson, who finished the race in 11th place. Jespersen said riding his bike along sometimes dark streets made it “a bit scary,” but he had no serious concerns.
Forty volunteers teamed up with the Carbon Recreation staff to make sure that each of the approximately 140 competitors was safe as they attempted to complete the 5K run, 9-mile bike ride, and 300-meter swim. “If it wasn’t for about 40 incredible volunteers that we had, I would feel it was unsafe,” said Steve Christensen, Executive Director of Carbon County Recreation.
Despite the ‘Lunatic’ name, Christensen is quite concerned about the safety of the athletes who are competing in the event. “We’re always most concerned about that,” he said. “Safety is always my first expectation and hope in everything that we do, and then obviously we want it to be a lot of fun for the participants.”
Conducting the triathlon late at night under the light of the moon is part of the fun, and is also part of what organizers hope will set their event apart from the many races held each weekend during the summer. Christensen explained that when organizers began planning last year’s inaugural event, they knew that in order to “get people to come to Price and do something like this, it had to be unique.”
They also strived to make changes to improve the race this year, including providing bike racks, getting more volunteers, and taking better advantage of the volunteers they had. “We’re not race promoters,” he said. “We’re a recreation agency. But we are quick to see the changes we need to make to make the events we run better.”
As a local recreation agency, Christensen and his staff also recognize their job is not to target elite athletes, but to serve the local population. “We want to serve everyone,” Christensen explained. “We had a guy finish in 49 minutes, and I think that’s absolutely incredible. But, that’s not who we do this for. We want to do this for the guy who comes in last, but has a ‘permagrin’ on his face because he finished. That’s what makes me pleased.”