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Triathlon returns to Luzerne County

A swimmer competes during a triathlon at Harveys Lake in Luzerne County.
Dave Bass
Back Mountain Triathlon
A swimmer competes during a triathlon at Harveys Lake in Luzerne County.

An athletic tradition is returning to Harveys Lake.

“Just for the last couple years, I realized what I really wanted to do was bring back the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon," said Dave Bass, Back Mountain Triathlon race director.

The renamed and revamped swimming, biking, running competition will take place on Aug. 20.

“We wanted people to know that there is a history here and we do ... respect that history," he said. "But we're going to be doing something different.”

The Wilkes-Barre Triathlon was founded in 1982. About six years ago, organizers decided to not continue the race. The event at one point drew 1,000 people from all over the country, he said.

“We think if we got between 200, 300 people, it would be a very successful event," Bass said.

Simplified for competitors but also the residents of Harveys Lake, the entire race will now happen at the lake. In the past, athletes swam 1,500 meters, biked 24 miles and ran 6.2 miles at multiple locations. The new course will help decrease road closures and traffic issues, he said.

Bass’ first triathlon experience was watching the Wilkes-Barre event at Harveys Lake.

"The very first race that I saw, I still get charged up about it," he said. "I never saw anything like it. And I wanted to do it."

Bass, who trained in secret at first, ended up competing for six years. He served on the board of the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon and was once assistant race director.

"I learned a lot about triathlon from the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon, not just how to perform in one but also how to produce one," he said.

Bass anticipates people will fill the docks and streets to cheer on the race participants. He hopes it brings people to the local businesses. It’s also a fundraiser for local charities.

"I will be most satisfied at the end of the race to see the way the community comes together," he said.

The race is a qualifier for the USA Triathlon National Championships. Athletes can compete on relay teams or individually. Those interested must sign up by Aug. 13. Race day is Aug. 20.

For more details or to sign up, visit backmountaintriathlon.com/.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.