The LaPorte County Family YMCA Triathlon is an annual tradition. Participants around the Region ran, swam, and biked at Stone Lake Beach. Individuals and teams competed from ages 12 to 75.
“The triathlon is the longest-running triathlon in the state of Indiana. It's our 42nd year running. It actually was given to us 33 years ago by another group that felt the Y was the best to handle the event,” said Laurie Halaska, CEO of LaPorte County Family YMCAs.
Athletes come back year after year with their families cheering them on. Even toddlers attended the race, with a few eager to join in with attempts to walk onto the course. Caregivers stopped them, but the toddlers’ eyes were wide watching their parents or community members race past.
“It really carries our mission of health and wellness,” Halaska said. “More importantly for LaPorte County, this is just a beautiful showcase of the county. People talk about this course all the time. As you can see, the beautiful lake right here, the running course, the biking course—it lends itself to a triathlon.”
The triathlon is not only a community-building event, but it also provides funds for a good cause.
“This is one of our smaller fundraisers but last year we raised about $9,500 with it and all of the proceeds go to our scholarship fund,” said Jessica Durham, Director of Marketing and Special Events at LaPorte County Family YMCA. “Last year, 2021, the Y gave out about $105,000 in scholarships to the LaPorte County community. It also helps promote healthy living.”
The Y’s scholarship program provides access to Y programs and services to families and children who could not otherwise afford them.
“At the YMCA we don't turn anyone away due to financial barriers,” Durham said. “And so we accept scholarships in all of our programming and our membership base. So whether it be an individual family or just children looking to do swim lessons, we try to remove those barriers, especially in childcare for parents who maybe need to work but maybe can't afford childcare quite yet.”
Triathletes are attempting to diversify the sport, including encouraging young people to join in.
“If you want to race a tri, find someone you know who does triathlons,” said Ashley Konwerski, President of Northwest Indiana Triathletes. “Find a mentor and just get out there and start swimming and running and you don't have to be fast at it. You don't have to be the best today. Join your local Masters Club if you're older than high school, find a local biking group, bike with bikers and then there are running groups all over too. If you like all three sports, join a triathlete club.”
The LaPorte County YMCA Triathlon is an important community event that encourages healthy habits. It is also pushing the County toward its goal of becoming one of the top 20 healthiest counties in Indiana.
The YMCA would like to thank its 60 volunteers for making this event possible.
More information about LaPorte County Family YMCA can be found at: https://www.lpymca.org/
For more details about regional triathlons and how to get started visit: https://nwitri.net/cs/NWITRI/page.detail?page_id=1.