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XTERRA La Grande Triathlon to Continue Under La Grande Ride, Inc. for 2012
The race director torch for XTERRA Solstice Triathlon has been passed from Mary Ellen LaBerge to La Grande Ride, Inc. which will continue the race into its 11th season for 2012. This grueling off-road triathlon has drawn world-class athletes to La Grande, Oregon for a decade as part of the XTERRA Points Series. City-owned Morgan Lake plays host to the event each summer.
La Grande Ride, Inc. (www.LaGrandeRide.com) assumes the responsibilities for organizing the race in order to ensure the sustainability of such a high-quality event for Northeast Oregon. "We chose to do this for two primary reasons: because our mission is to support activity, recreation, and sport performance and we feel an obligation to sustain local fitness events, since there are so few," says Brian Sather, co-owner of La Grande Ride and Professor of Physical Activity & Health at Eastern Oregon University.
A main reason LaBerge started the race in La Grande, was because she wanted to compete in a local triathlon. While many races have come and gone since, the Solstice Triathlon remains a mainstay on the off-road triathlon circuit. LaBerge says, "I'm very excited about handing over the race to a new and capable director. I know our reputation will continue on as a tough race course," LaBerge is also director of the local 3 Rivers Race charity event ( www.3RiversRace.com ).
Several major changes will be in store for the 2012 running of the event, based on discussion and recommendations from the previous event management. The most major planned change is a move to a later date, near the end of July. This will allow a longer preparation period for local competitors, following the long winters in the region. The bike course will have longer to dry from the snow melt and more practice time in the lake after the ice thaws. Furthermore, the participants in the triathlon should enjoy the perfect summer temperatures of La Grande.
La Grande Ride co-owner Zach Heath will also bring his expertise in helping organize the triathlon and preparing local athletes to be in race shape. "We're happy to help this event continue. I have a few course modifications in mind to make the event more runner and mountain biker friendly, while still maintaining the level of difficulty that characterizes XTERRA events. We want more locals to participate, so we will do all we can to prepare them for the race."
This date change will also be accompanied by a name change for the event. Tentatively, a duathlon or other less-formal local event is planned for the solstice weekend at a different venue in the area, to serve as a preparation and lead-up to the XTERRA event. The event will also continue to host a kids duathlon. Visit LaGrandeRide.com to see updates and information about the race as they unfold.