In July, Fergus Falls is usually greeted by the splash of Hoot Lake water, a plethora of speeding cyclists and a bevy of runners as the Fergus Falls Area Family YMCA’s annual Hoot Lake Triathlon welcomes competitors from across the area. But due to the coronavirus pandemic and the distance of several racers to the event, the YMCA has decided to cancel this year’s triathlon.
“The decision to cancel this year’s triathlon was an extremely difficult decision,” YMCA director Eric Price said. “I’ve been working very closely with other YMCAs and other organizations throughout Minnesota over the past few months. We had planned to continue with the Hoot Lake Triathlon to support our community. As the COVID-19 pandemic progressed, we began to need to have the difficult conversations related to what the next several months will look like.”
Concerns expressed by both the YMCA and medical professionals about the gathering of groups during the pandemic became a main focus. How could they ensure cleanliness, spacing and other things for the group? The health and safety of participants, spectators, volunteers and safety personnel were of high importance to the YMCA. “Since no one knows how long the COVID-19 scare will last, there’s a lot of uncertainty of when large groups will be able to gather,” Price added.
The cancellation was also very disappointing for staff who plans the event. The group begins in December and puts significant time and energy into the process until the triathlon gets underway in July. Price stated that the YMCA takes pride in hosting a great community event that has run for over 27 years.
Although there will be no triathlon this year, the YMCA is still looking for ways to promote community well-being. Price mentioned the YMCA, in partnership with Lake Region Healthcare, is developing the “Together We Thrive Initiative.” “It is a virtual initiative focused on supporting the health and well-being of our community. We are finalizing the specifics and will be launching it within the next week,” Price said.
Looking at the positive, Price has stated that by not having the triathlon this year the YMCA can focus on improving the race in 2021. This includes speaking with those that have been involved with the event in the past both as volunteers and participants and finding out ways to improve the race. “There have been some great discussions that will ensure that the 2021 Hoot Lake Triathlon comes back better than ever,” Price said.