BASS LAKE — Hundreds of competitors and several thousand spectators converged here early Saturday morning for the annual Bass Lake Yosemite Triathlon. Organizers say this year’s event was one of the biggest ever, drawing more than 625 triathletes from across the state and around the world.
Adam Mitchell, 38, a captain at Cal Fire, placed third in his age group in last year’s event.
“The bike’s my strength,” said the Coarsegold resident before plunging into the 60-degree lake. “I’m a little nervous. It’s been cold so I haven’t swam at all this year.”
Katherine Cowen, 38, from San Francisco, was competing in her fifth triathlon. A member of the Golden Gate Triathlon Club, Cowen and 30 other club members were planning to camp in Yosemite after the race.
“This is my first time here,” Cowen said. “Bass Lake is beautiful. I came because I really love Yosemite.”
Bass Lake has hosted major triathlon competitions since 1983, including the United States Triathlon Series and Tri-Fed National Championships.
In 2011, Visit Yosemite | Madera County partnered with Tucson Racing, a professional triathlon promoter in Arizona, Ohio and California, to bring serious triathlon competition back to Bass Lake.
This year’s edition drew competitors from as far as Lithuania, India and China.
The Olympic-length triathlon involved a 1500m swim, 40k bike and 5k run. The Sprint triathlon was a little less daunting — 500m swim, 20k bike and 5k run.
There was also a 5K “Poker and Go Fish” Run/Walk for kids and adults.
One hundred percent of the proceeds from that particular event went to local charities. This year’s main recipient: Badger Youth Football.
Rhonda Salisbury, CEO for Visit Yosemite | Madera County and one of the race organizers, spent much of her day fielding questions — and recording race times.
“It’s been an excellent day,” Salisbury said. “The weather really cooperated this year.”
The Bass Lake Lions Club cooked a BBQ lunch and more than 100 volunteers from around the community helped coordinate logistics around the various race sites — including the Boy Scouts, Madera County Sheriff’s Department Explorers and the Yosemite High School water polo team.
John Savage of Oakland won the Olympic triathlon this year, defending his title for the fifth straight time.
Look for results for all of the events and age groups at www.BassLakeTri.com.
Michael Paravati, 29, a software salesman from the Bay Area, competed in the Sprint triathlon event Saturday.
A member of the Golden Gate Tri Club, Paravati flipped his bike in his last race at Half Moon Bay and had to take a few months off while recovering from a concussion.
“This is my first race back,” he said. “It feels good to be out here racing again.”
Courtney Easley, 14, from Clovis, competed in the 5K after being “talked into it by a friend.”
“I really didn’t train at all,” she said. “I just decided to come up and give it a try.”
“Going up all the hills” was the hard part, Easley said. The best part? “Crossing the finish line!”
After she crossed the finish line, Han Wei celebrated with friends.
“That was hard,” she said. “I hurt everywhere. But I’m really glad I did it.”