At least 40 percent of participants in the series will be beginners, according to Mark Aiton, co-principal of On Your Mark Events, although veteran triathletes also use the series for practice and training. The non-competitive environment of the Tri-For-Fun allows a variety of athletes to participate while enjoying themselves at the same time.
"Providing a fantastic experience for everyone, it's truly our main goal with the Tri-For-Fun," Aiton said. "There are now literally thousands of people who cut their triathlon teeth with the Tri-For-Fun, and they keep coming back, as well as taking part in our other longer-distance triathlons."
The first three non-competitive races feature a shorter course than usual triathlons. All three begin with a 400-yard swim in Shadow Cliffs lake, followed by 11 miles of biking on flat streets. They finish with a 3.1-mile run on the rolling fire trail in the park.
Aiton owned athletic store Fleet Feet in Pleasanton when customers encouraged him and his wife Kandee to create the local triathlon in 1988. The series has grown since then and is now East Bay's longest running triathlon.
"I still can't believe it's been more than two decades," Aiton said. "If you were to give me a few minutes, I'm sure I could name the original 28 participants who did the first Tri-For-Fun."
According to On Your Mark Events, the race continues to be popular because of the safe and welcoming atmosphere. Due to this, the race attracts a different demographic than most triathlons.
The race features a higher ratio of women to men, with generally 64 percent female participants in all four triathlons, according to Aiton. Additionally, the Tri-For-Fun attracts a wide range of ages, with the youngest and oldest participants recorded at 6 years old and 78 years old respectively.
According to Jonathan Lance, communications director for On Your Mark Events, the race attracts this variety of people because of the precautions taken to make it a safe event. Monitors and lifeguards watch over each stage of the event to ensure participant safety.
"Mark and Kanddee [Aiton]have gone a long way to make sure it is a very safe event," Lance said. "It's a really well thought out, safe program. I think that is another reason people keep coming back."
The three Tri-For-Fun races do not feature awards, as they are non-competitive, but a large timing clock allows participants to gauge her or his personal achievement. Also, all participants receive a commemorative T-shirt, refreshments, snacks and entry into the raffle with registration.
The races lead up to the Tri-For-Real, which does offer prizes to the winners, as well as a serious challenge. The Tri-For-Real also takes place at Shadow Cliffs Park, but the athletes face a 700-yard swim, 20-mile bike and 4-mile run. This race is professionally timed.
For 2008, the On Your Mark Tri-For-Fun Series dates are June 21, July 19 and Aug. 16. The Tri-For-Real will take place Sept. 21. All races start at 7 a.m. and check-in and registration begin at 5 a.m. Shadow Cliffs Regional Park (where check-in, registration and the race are held) is located at 2500 Stanley Blvd.
The entry fee for the three Tri-For-Funs is $55 in advance and $65 the day of the race. The Tri-For-Real costs $65 in advance and $75 day of, which also includes trophies and medals.
To register or to receive more information about On Your Mark Events' Tri-For-Fun Triathlon Series, call 209-795-7832 or visit their website at www.onyourmarkevents.com.