More than 500 expected to enter Beaver Lake Triathlon

August 17, 2010

By Bob Taylor

Athletes prepare to enter the water to swim the first leg of the 2009 Beaver Lake Triathlon. By Greg Farrar

Ed Bullock has competed in prestigious Ironman triathlons in New York, California and Canada in recent years. Yet, the high point of his triathlon season every year is the Beaver Lake Triathlon.“Beaver Lake is just a gem,” said the Issaquah resident, who has raced in the past five Beaver Lake Triathlons.

The 17th annual Beaver Lake Triathlon is Aug. 21 at Beaver Lake Park in Sammamish. Bullock will be among the 500 or more competitors at the popular event. The majority of the racers come from Sammamish and Issaquah.

“This pretty much is the top local race for Issaquah and Sammamish triathletes,“ Bullock said.

The first wave of racers will hit the lake for a quarter-mile swim at 7:45 a.m. In addition to the triathletes, there will be a crowd of at least 500 or more spectators.

Beaver Lake Triathlon director Sharon Freechtle said registration for this year’s race is going well. She said that there will likely be several registrations Aug. 20, the final day triathletes can sign up for the event. Prior to last year, the Beaver Lake Triathlon often drew more than 600 racers each year. However, an Ironman race at Lake Stevens on the same day last year drew many elite racers who usually competed at the Beaver Lake Triathlon, which is classified as a sprint race.

“When we started the Beaver Lake Triathlon 17 years ago, we had the only triathlon going on about this time of the year. Now, there are so many triathlons. Almost every weekend there is a triathlon somewhere,” Freechtle said.

Some racers rank among the nation’s top triathletes and use the Beaver Lake Triathlon as a tune-up for the upcoming Ironman Canada race Aug. 29 in Penticton, British Columbia. Some people will be entering their first triathlon ever and others, like Bullock, will be concluding their season.

Bullock has already competed in four races this season, including two half-Ironmans.

“I’m doing it mainly for fun,” Bullock said. “The BLT is such a nice venue.”

In addition to the swim, the race includes a 13.8-mile bike ride around the Beaver Lake community. The route includes scenic views of the Cascades, Mount Si and the Snoqualmie Valley. It also includes the challenging Duthie Hill Road. The final leg of the triathlon is a 4.3-mile run over hills and through woods.

“It’s really a challenging course. It’s harder than the normal sprint race,” Bullock said. “The run is a little bit longer than most sprint triathlons, and isn’t totally flat like some courses. The bicycle part is really challenging. I like the stair-step hills, and going down Duthie Hill is definitely a fast ride. Some people hit up to 50 mph.”

In preparation for the Beaver Lake Triathlon and other races, Bullock rides the bicycle course at least 25 times a year. He has also been training with V02 Multisport, which has a triathlon team and training center in Bellevue. Coach of the team is Ben Bigglestone, the 2007 Beaver Lake champion.

Bullock, who is entered in the men’s 52-54 age division, said he hopes to finish among the top three racers in his division this year. He started racing in triathlons nine years ago.

“For the last seven years, I have been competing at a serious level,” said Bullock, who has done the rigorous Ironman Canada race three times.

“I think triathlons are a great outlet for a positive and healthy lifestyle,” he said. “It’s an event where you can compete at any age.”

Freechtle notes that this year a 72-year-old woman from Federal Way is entered in the race. The youngest contestant is 13 years old.

“I think it’s great for older people to enter triathlons, because it encourages younger kids to do it, too,” Freechtle said.

Joseph DeMatteo, 14, and a freshman at Skyline High School, is among the younger racers. DeMatteo will compete in his first triathlon.

“I’ve been swimming at a local club, biking around my area and running with my cross country team,” DeMatteo said regarding his preparation for the race.

Like his older brother Anthony, who graduated last spring from Skyline, DeMatteo is an all-around athlete. He competes in cross country, wrestling and track. Anthony was an all-state linebacker on Skyline’s 4A state championship football team last fall, a standout in wrestling and an all-league player in baseball. He is playing football at Central Washington University this fall.

Tammy Wales, of Sammamish, is another local triathlete who has been training hard for this year’s Beaver Lake Triathlon.

“I really like this race, because it’s almost in my back yard,” said Wales, competing in her sixth Beaver Lake Triathlon.

The 49-year-old started doing triathlons 10 year ago. Her first race was the annual women’s Danksin Triathlon in Seattle.

“The Danskin just got too big over the years. I love the BLT because the field is smaller, but it still gets some elite racers,” Wales said.

The elite field is assigned to 20 triathletes with the fastest overall times.

In training for the Beaver Lake Triathlon, Wales often meets neighbors who are entered in the event.

Many of the competitors have some kind of athletic background. Wales, for example, competed in gymnastics and track in high school.

“I used to ride a bike a lot, too,” Wales said. “The only thing I really didn’t do a lot of was swimming. It’s still the one part of the triathlon that I really don’t like.”

Individual options include a variety of age divisions — Clydesdale, Athena, and family and friends. The Clydesdale division is for males weighing 200 pounds or more and the Athena division is for females 150 pounds or more. Family and friends is for people who want to participate with a friend or family member who would normally be in a different wave or less competitive wave.

In addition to individual competition, the Beaver Lake Triathlon has team competition.

Sometimes, families form teams, or high school athletes compete as a team. This year, Eastside Fire & Rescue will send a team to the event. The team of firefighters is there for more than just the competition. EFR is taking donations for Ryan’s Solution, a nonprofit effort by a firefighter aimed at ending teenage abuse of prescription medicine.

“The event really has a nice community feeling,” Wales said. “At the race, you have your family and friends rooting for you. I hope the BLT never ends.”

Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or Comment at

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