Making Aquabike a "Thing"...


Over burrito bowls at Qdoba in Brooklyn Center, Heart of the Lakes race director Jeff Holmberg, a truly cool guy who met golf legend Gary Player once (photo), and another guy discussed the state of triathlon in Minnesota. More specifically, they talked about declining enrollment at races and what can be done to revitalize the scene. Both were heartened that most, if not all, of our state's race directors are discussing this and want to do whatever is necessary to rebuild the sport.

Jeff and the guy discussed:

  • The good work that Greg Dummer and Laura Swartz are doing with their new Facebook page: Tri It Up North (Check it out, if you haven't done so already!)

  • The cost of producing events vs. the cost of participation.

  • The effect of long distance emphasis on sprint and Olympic enrollments.

  • The athlete's responsibility to introduce others to the lifestyle.

  • Minnesota's dedicated Ironman participants, the group who train exclusively for and participate in 140.6s, all of which are staged outside of Minnesota.

  • The behavior of “new” triathletes, who appear to race less often than their veteran peers, and are more likely to have a recreational approach to the sport, rather than adopting it as a lifestyle.

  • Getting those who race infrequently to add a race or two to their schedules.

  • The apparent imbalance between the arrival of new triathletes—those that have come to the sport in the last 5-6 years—and the exit of older ones....


This last issue received the most syllables. Jeff, a man in his mid 60s who looks much younger, though, speculated that many older triathletes, and some younger ones as well, often leave the sport because running has taken a toll on their bodies. He is aware that some races offer “Aquabike” divisions, but believes that this swim-bike alternative needs to be goosed. Aquabike needs to become a viable “THING.”

So Holmberg and the guy discussed ways to build swim-bike, to excite those that might otherwise say goodbye to a community that touched and defined them. Lake Minnetonka has been offering a aquabike for the last four years and average about 15 finishers. This is very cool, BUT Jeff would like to see a time in the near future where the aquabike field would number in the hundreds. There could be a state series, perhaps? Active triathletes could include aquabike as a change of pace, or when running injuries would otherwise prevent three-sport racing.

Growing the multisport community, increasing race attendance, and adding years to the competitive lives of athletes are some of the aquabike goals that Jeff would like to see achieved. To get started, he would like hear from athletes—This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. would support adding an aquabike to this year's Heart of the Lakes. If at least 25 swim-bikers are interested, he would push hard for the inclusion of aquabike at HOLT '18.


+1 #3 Bob A 2018-04-15 19:09
I'm one of those older triathletes. I'm 56 and started racing triathlons in 1985. But running injuries aren't why I left the sport. It's a shoulder injury (not sports related) that limits my ability to swim competitively. I did a few duathlons in 2013 and even qualified for Worlds, but without a decent duathlon race schedule in MN, I decided not to go.There are some race production companies in other parts of the country that offer a duathlon division at most of their triathlons. This is what I'd like to see at a few races in MN.
0 #2 Louis Hughes 2018-04-03 15:43
I coach the U of MN Tri Team (50+ members) who usually travel outside MN to race. Race discounts for my young athletes could very much help promote these MN races especially for the future when they join the age-group divisions. Superior Man just offered free entry to the "21 and under" entries and now many of my athletes are SKIPPING our conference race to do this instead!

ED. Louis - If you'd write something about this, I'd be glad to post it on MTN.
0 #1 Joe W. 2018-04-03 08:43
Why not try to increase participation in duathlon? Minimial equipment for run/bike and nice for those who dislike swim. I started multi-sport 3 years ago. First two years I did triathlon. Once your wave gets spread out in the water, you have the next wave coming up behind and they insist on kicking, elbowing and crawling right over you - and for what?! Maybe create a first time/rec. wave so those who do this for fun and exercise don’t feel that pressure and you can let us finish last :)

ED. First timers wave? We like that! Thanks, Joe!

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