BELFAST, Maine — The triathlon may be one of the more grueling sporting events there is, its combination of swimming, running and cycling a stern test of any athlete’s conditioning.

The Waldo County YMCA hopes to broaden that basic concept with an event fit for all ages when it hosts the third annual Family Triathlon Festival on May 12.

The day will feature a sprint triathlon with adult and teen divisions, a new junior triathlon division as well as a noncompetitive minitriathlon for youngsters 10 and under.

“We’ve been very interested in getting kids involved,” said Beth Anderson, co-director of the event. “Most triathlons are geared toward adults, but for the last two years we had [nontimed] events for the 11- to 14-year-olds and those coming back from that said they really wanted to be competitive and really wanted to be timed.”

As a result, the festival will debut a competitive juniors division for ages 11-14, with participants swimming 275 yards in the YMCA pool followed by a 3.5-mile bike ride and a 1.5-mile run.

The junior division will be open to 24 competitors, Anderson said, with half of that field already filled.

The course for the adult (20 and older) and teen (ages 15-19) divisions will involve a 525-yard swim (21 pool lengths), a 12.2-mile bike ride and a 3.5-mile run.

“We’re really reaching out to new triathletes,” said Anderson, herself a veteran triathlete who will travel to San Francisco in early June to compete in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. “Some are a little wary about doing the triathlon in open water, so we have swimming in the pool.”

Individual and team competitions are planned with prizes to be awarded, and winners will be listed on a plaque to be placed in the YMCA’s entryway.

Child care will be available for adults who plan to race, with a bounce house, a band, a balloon blower and other activities planned throughout the day.

“We really want to get the whole family involved,” said Anderson.

Entry fees for the triathlon are adults $70, adult relay teams $120, teens (ages 15-19) $30, teen relay teams $60, juniors (11-14) $25 and 10 and under $10.

Additional support for the event is provided from the Unity Foundation, Unitel, Belfast Pediatrics and Waldo County General Hospital.

All proceeds from the festival go to the Waldo County YMCA youth scholarship fund.

Competition begins at 8 a.m. on race day, and to register or for more information access There is no race-day registration.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...