Hoot Lake Triathlon attracts veterans, newcomers alikePublished 11:19am Thursday, July 25, 2013 Updated 11:23am Thursday, July 25, 2013
Nick Mariotti has been competing in the Hoot Lake Triathlon since he was 15. Now 34, Mariotti said the differences in the event during the past two decades are staggering.
“Back then, I think it had a more specific following of people that would compete, whereas now there are a lot of people who will give it a try,” Mariotti said. “It’s not quite so daunting; people know what it is, they’ve been seeing it for years happening around town.”
Mariotti is not only a veteran of the Hoot Lake Triathlon. This year alone, he has competed in six triathlons, including one on North Dakota, and plans to continue participating in the events through the end of August.
Mariotti’s friend, Dave Jensen, is another returning participant. Jensen, 29, won the event in 2010, and will be competing in his ninth triathlon this year.
Jensen also said the event has grown tremendously since his first competition, where he said there were four Fergus Falls residents who competed. This year, Jensen said he anticipated there could be as many as 50 local competitors.
Mariotti and Jensen may both be seasoned triathlon participants, but they do not have similar styles. Mariotti grew up as a swimmer and said the swim leg has always been his greatest strength.
Jensen, on the other hand, has always been stronger at running and biking.
“I tolerate the swim and I enjoy the bike and the run,” said Jensen, who called the swim “a necessary evil” of the event.
Last year, Mariotti participated in his first Iron Man event, which consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a 26.2 mile run. After running that event last September, Mariotti said he has not been in as good of shape this year. Training for the Iron Man was a one-year commitment that required full focus, while Mariotti has not had as sharp a mindset this triathlon season.
Destiny Loven, 21, has also done an Iron Man in the past but will be competing in her first Hoot Lake Triathlon this year, for which she has been training for the past three months. She said the camaraderie, along with personal ambition, were the main reasons she decided to compete.
“It is more motivating when you know other people in the community care about working out and coming together as one,” Loven said.
Even with all the other events Mariotti competes in, he holds the Hoot Lake Triathlon near and dear to his heart.
“The hometown race is always special,” Mariotti said. “The Hoot was the first triathlon I ever competed in.”
According to Mariotti and Jensen’s personal experiences, more and more Fergus Falls residents will soon be able to say the same thing.