The History of the Square Lake Triathlon

This year marks the 18 annual Square Lake Triathlon. This was FrontRunner’s first multisport event and continues to be our flagship multisport event.

Back in 1999, there were very few multisport events. Throughout the entire summer there were probably no more that 8 – 10. Turtleman , Timberman, Manitou Sprint, Heart of the Lakes and Brewhouse are a few that existed back then.

The Turtleman Triathlon was always mid August and the last triathlon of the season. If you were going to compete at the Ironman Championships in Hawaii, you still had the few months to train and prepare.

Mo and Suzanne Mouw were two local White Bear Lake athletes who competed at Ironman Hawaii and wanted one more opportunity to compete before the Minnesota summer was over. They approached me and asked if I would consider putting on a late season triathlon. They used the Square Lake area for training and suggested Square Lake Park as the venue for the event. We weren’t new to putting on events but we had never organized a multisport event.

And so it began. Washing ton County Parks would not allow events between Memorial Day and Labor Day so we chose the week after Labor Day. It’s a beautiful time of year and although the water is cooling off, it was still swimable.

The first year we only put on the short course. ½ mile swim, 17 mile bike, and 5 mile run. Everyone loved the Square Lake venue.

Chip timing wasn’t available yet so there were just 3 transition time given – swim, bike and run, all timed with a manual device. I’m sure we missed a number of transition times but we did what we could. Probable wasn’t until the 4th or 5th year that we started using chips for timing.

The second year we added the long course. Back then there wasn’t a triathlon of this distance in Minnesota. The only one in the Midwest was Pigman in Iowa . We created the course – 1.2 mile swim, 54 mile bike and 13 mile run. The bike was 2 mile short of the actual Ironman distance. We used a circle course for the run the first year but switched to an out and back the second year so runners would have some company as they passed each other.

Over the years thing got twecked and changed. I remember one night before the start and we were setting up bike racks, someone asked if it wouldn’t be easier to come in and out of the park if we switched the transition area to from the lower parking lot to the upper lot. We tried it and it worked so much better.

We use to have the finish line up by the entrance of the park and someone suggested moving it to the beach. That change made such a difference.

The long course was on Saturday and the Short course on Sunday. The City of Scandia began Taco Days and holds it on Saturday, and since all our bikes went through Scandia twice, they asked us if we would move the long course to Sunday.

We only do the short course now. The two long days just took too much out of me. Ironman Wisconsin is always that weekend and there are always so many local triathletes spending their weekend in Madison. People have so many options now if they want to do a long course triathlon – one of those options has become finding an event in some beautiful place in the world, and travel to it. Hard to compete!

I still think the Square Triathlon has one of the most beautiful venues with the cleanest water to swim in, the best road to bike on and a country run course that is stunning. There are a few athletes that have never missed a year. This years Square Lake Triathlon is Saturday, September 9. Hope to see you there!

Here is additional information on this year’s event