GILFORD — Well over 3,000 athletes will be congregating in the Lakes Region this weekend for the 14th annual Timberman Triathlon, a grueling event which features swimming, bicycling and and a foot race.
The event kicks off today at the Gunstock Mountain Resort with the Timberman Triathlon Festival from noon to 8 p.m., a sports and fitness exposition which offers seminars for novice and seasoned triathletes as well as music and a dinner.
Saturday morning the focus shifts to Ellacoya State Park on Lake Winnipesaukee where a Sprint event will be held consisting of a 0.3 mile swim, a 15 mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run. Some 1,400 athletes from all over the Northeast, including many from the Lakes Region, will be taking part.
Later that day a fun race for kids will be held at Gunstock.
The main event, a 70.3 mile, "half-ironman" triathlon gets underway on Sunday, August 18 at 7 a.m. as the first wave of swimmers enters Winnipesaukee for a 1.2 mile swim, followed by a 56 mile bike ride which goes to Loudon and then returns to Ellacoya, followed by a 13.1 mile run.
That event will see nearly 2,000 athletes and feature a pair of former Ironman 70.3 world champions in the men's race while the women's race features Melissa Hauschildt of Australia, who has won all five Ironman events she has competed in this year.
Men's race favorite Andy Potts of the United States is coming into New Hampshire after recording his second consecutive win at Ironman Lake Placid in July. A former Olympian and the 2007 Ironman 70.3 world champion, will be challenged by Terenzo Bozzone of New Zealand, the 2008 Ironman 70.3 world champion.
Bozzone has already racked up Ironman 70.3 wins in Florida and Mount Tremblant, Quebec, this year while Leon Griffin of Kangaroo Flats, Australia, runner-up in last year's Timberman will be looking to mount a strong challenge. Another top triathlete is Grant Burwash of Canada, who posted the fastest run of the day (1:13:05) at the Calagary Ironman and needs to be close at the end of the bike competition in order to challenge.
In the women's event, Melissa Hauschildt of Australia, the 2011 Ironman 70.3 world champion, has been unbeatable this year, recording five victories, including her recent course record setting win at the Ironman 70.3 Boulder.
She will be challenged by Doctor Amanda Stevens of Vermont, who has won the Ironman South Africa this year and placed third in Brazil.
The New Hampshire chapter of the Make A Wish Foundation and The Ironman Foundation have teamed up for the Timberman for the fifth straight year to raise funds that contribute to the granting of wishes to children with life threatening illnesses.
More than 3,000 athletes will be taking part in the 14th annual Timberman Triathlon at Ellacoya State Park in Gilford this weekend.