Race Previews

A Great Up North Experience!


What Is The Great Up North Triathlon?


By Ashley Hall

The second my feet hit the water all the nervousness and anxiety about the next hour and a half disappeared. Suddenly the focus shifted from what everyone was doing around me to what can I accomplish today? The cheering from the crowd, the encouragement of the other athletes and the calmness of Rainy Lake brought a new light to the word competition. In all my years competing in sports, I had never experienced a more encouraging crowd or a more amazing group of athletes than at the Rainy Lake Triathlon.

Fellow triathletes (because I can now use that word ), had told me once I did my first triathlon I would be hooked and that it’s like no other competition and boy were they right! I grew up playing volleyball and basketball, recently developed a love for hockey (upon moving to the...

northland) and love just about any sport there is…....but triathlon, triathlon is different! It’s encouraging, motivating and empowering; and those are the reasons we knew we HAD to save and bring new life to what was formerly known as the Backus Rainy Lake Triathlon in our beloved small town of International Falls.

In 2018 the decision was made to not have the triathlon, but still a dozen local competitors banded together to swim, bike and run. I didn’t get to join them, but I read the posts, heard the stories and saw the pictures. This solidified our belief that this event was needed and WANTED. Some of the people that joined the unofficial event in 2018 didn’t even train for it, they were just motivated and inspired by others; how could we not save this?!


By day Erin and I are personal trainers, gym owners and group fitness instructors, which while it makes it somewhat easy to fit coordinating a triathlon fit into our lives, we’re still newbies! We are fully aware that owning a gym doesn’t necessarily qualify you to plan an event such as this, so we have been reaching out to people all over the state for the past few months. We have been so fortunate that the Minnesota triathlon community has embraced our decision to keep this race going and has been there to help us along the way. We would never be able to get this event going again if it weren’t for Bob Schneider, Trudy Marshall and the Minnesota Tri News guys. We are still working out the minor details, but all the big things have fallen into place.

The Great Up North Triathlon will coincide with Ranier Days and take place on August 10,2019 at City Beach nestled alongside the scenic Rainy Lake. Competitors will not only get to experience the Ranier festival, but we also encourage them to experience the nation’s only national park accessible by boat-Voyageurs!! Rainy Lake is a destination like none other with its fishing (in Canada and the US), camping, viewing of the Northern Lights, canoeing, hiking or simply relaxing on the pontoon. For those who prefer to stay on land we have three amazing resorts, a new boutique hotel and distillery, a brewery within walking distance of the race, some great downtown shopping or you can cross the bridge into Canada and experience a different but equally as amazing Canadian town-Fort Frances. International Falls truly is a destination like none other.

Now for the athletes we are bringing some changes, new energy and new experience to the race. Along with a longer and bit more challenging bike ride (15.2 miles), we are inviting vendors to the main area, we are encouraging more locals to cheer on the competitors along the route, we have custom made International Falls gifts for each athlete and we will be giving prizes to men and women in each age group. We also encourage the athletes to be a part of the Ranier Days Parade following the event. We want to make this event an amazing experience not only for the competitors but for the spectators as well.
As we move forward with planning the Great Up North Triathlon, we have been amazed at the number of people who want to do this as first timers, the veteran competitors who want to come back and the teams that want to band together for such an accomplishment. We hope this event will continue to grow and encourage first timers to race as well as attract veteran triathletes. And we really hope that people truly do come for the race but stay for the adventure that is Rainy Lake, Minnesota. EVENT WEBSITE

“Reveal your character, your determination, your adventure and your journey all with one event-a triathlon.” -Ashley Hall