The Back Mountain Triathlon Aims to Fill Void for Local Triathletes
The race is back on!
For 35 years, hundreds of local, regional and even national endurance racers annually descended upon Harvey’s Lake for the Greater Wilkes-Barre Triathlon. The USA Tirathlon (USAT)-sanctioned race was a World Championship qualifier and often brought professional triathletes to the challenging NEPA course. In 2016, when the final athlete had crossed the line, many were unaware they had just competed in the last Greater Wilkes-Barre Triathlon. The popular, long-running race came to an abrupt end.
Now, in 2023, after a 7-year hiatus, the race is back on! It’s slimmer, trimmer, leaner and meaner. And they’re calling it The Back Mountain Triathlon. Race day is Sunday, August 20. Registration is currently underway. And while it’s approximately in the same location, on nearly the same date and time, many of the components that had complicated previous races have changed.
What’s the same? And what’s changed?
Well, of course, there’s the name. “It was ultimately decided that a new name was important in establishing this race as something new and different from the previous event,” said David Bass, Race Director for the Back Mountain Triathlon. “We felt that Back Mountain Triathlon explained who we are, where we were, and was the best name for the new event.”
Bass and his race committee, made up largely of current and former athletes and local business and community leaders, come from a long line of experience. Many had been involved with the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon and similar local races for years. Their goal for making the Back Mountain Triathlon one to remember boils down to one word: simplify. “In simplifying the event we made it easier for the athletes on race weekend and on race day,” says Bass. “Everything is in walking distance — parking, race start and finish line.”
My motto as a race director has always been “For Athletes, By Athletes.” Every decision I make with our board is about how can we as athletes, make the race a great experience for the participating athletes. This takes more time and sometimes costs more money, but we want the athletes to finish the race and have incredible memories about their experience.
David Bass, Race Director, Back Mountain Triathlon
A simpler approach to endurance racing.
Bass and his race committee have also implemented plenty of logistical changes. They’ve simplified the running and biking courses. Athletes have the option to pick up race packets the day before or on race day. All athlete meetings will be virtual, archived and made available to watch at their convenience. These changes not only ensure a more user-friendly experience for racers, they’re also designed to lessen the impact of traffic congestion and noise on the community.
Giving back to the community.
There’s also change in store for how the 2023 Back Mountain Triathlon will be funded. According to Bass, “The race is being put on by NEPA Racing Inc., a 501 c3. non-profit.” The same organization also coordinates the Back Mtn. Trail 5K, a locally popular New Year’s Eve race. Bass states, “Our goal is always to provide fun and affordable racing while pumping all the profits back into the local community.” And they’ve already begun to name some of this year’s beneficiaries: The Back Mtn. Trail, Food Dignity, North Branch Land Trust, Harveys Lake Little League, Harveys Lake Fire and Ambulance, and others.
Not racing? No problem. The Back Mountain triathlon is designed to be a community event. And, of course, there’s always room for spectators. “Spectating at a triathlon is always a party-like atmosphere,” according to Bass. “Spectators cheer for people they know and total strangers as loud as they can, often punctuating their cheers with the ringing of cow bells.”
Swim, Bike, Run -- A Look at the Courses
A leisurely summer swim.
The swim course has stayed relatively the same as in previous races. It’s a rectangular, out and back course covering 1500 meters or .93 miles. The swim portion begins and ends at Sandy Beach adjacent to the PA Fish & Boat Commission Boat Launch.
A scenic rural NEPA loop.
The 20+ mile bike course consists of two laps. The cyclists will leave on Lakeshore Drive heading to Noxen via Route 29. After two long laps along that route, they return to the lake area finishing at Noxen Elementary.
The final stretch.
The run course takes off at Noxen Elementary and onto Schoolhouse Road, Church Road, Tulip Road, and Hallowich Road. Here, runners reach the 3.1-mile mark and return in the reverse direction to the finish line at Noxen Elementary. The run portion covers 6.2 miles in total.
Awards and post-race activities will be held at Noxen Elementary.
Sign Up Today!
Registration for the 2023 Back Mountain Triathlon is underway. Interested participants can race individually or as relay teams consisting of 2-3 athletes. The entry fee for the race is $125 for individual athletes and $150 for relay teams. The triathlon also includes an aqua bike option. The Back Mountain Triathlon will be officially timed, and it is sanctioned by USA Triathlon. Participating athletes can potentially qualify for USAT Nationals.
Learn more about the 2023 Back Mountain Triathlon here.
Where: Sandy Beach at the Harvey’s Lake Beach Club
Harvey’s Lake, PA 18618
When: Sunday, August 20
The race is scheduled to start at 7 a.m. and end roughly at 11 a.m.
An awards ceremony will immediately follow the conclusion of the race at Noxen Elementary.
Featured Image (Top) Courtesy of Back Mountain Triathlon.