The United Way of McPherson County’s biggest event of the year is returning for its 11th year on Aug. 18—its annual triathlon.

“This is one of the shortest, if not the shortest, triathlon in the Midwest.

“It’s a very approachable course for a lot of different ability levels. We like to promote it as a healthy lifestyle activity. Not necessarily as something you have to be able to compete in order to complete,” said Scott Barkley, volunteer chairman for the event.

The triathlon starts at 8 a.m. on Aug. 19 at the McPherson Water Park, at 511 N. Lakeside Drive, in McPherson.

The triathlon offers a 200-meter swim, a 7-mile bike ride and a 2-mile run.

Youths from ages 5 to 15 are encouraged to participate in the triathlon again this year.

“We’ve noticed a lot of increased interest in the

community for youth track and swimming and we also felt like there wasn’t a lot of other places that were offering a youth triathlon experience.

Last year was our first time adding the youth section and it was a great experience, we hope to build on that momentum,” Barkley said.

The youth race will be half the distance of the adult race, Barkley said.

Participants will swim the 200 meters in the McPherson Water Park’s pool.

“The first adult goes into the pool and then we wait for them to get to the end of the pool and then the next adult will go in and so forth. When the last adult is out of the pool then the first youth will enter,” he said..

To keep participants safe, the United Way has requested the presence of the McPherson Police and Street Departments.

“We wouldn’t be successful without them. Since we do have youth participating, we make a conscious effort to make sure everyone is safe,” he said.

Those wishing to participate also encouraged to enter as a relay team for both adults and youth teams. There is also a corporate challenge for businesses to participate in as well.

“Last year Mid Kansas Cooperative was the winner and they took the title away from Pfizer and I know Pfizer is hoping to get that back. But the corporate challenge teams are made up of three members,” he said.

Awards will be handed out for several categories such as: an overall champion, a runner-up and a second runner-up. There are also age division medals given to the top three participants for both male and female winners.

“We have some very serious triathletes participate as everyone knows it’s a timed event. However, we do have a full spectrum of participants that come to the event,” he said.

The event costs $25 for youths, $50 for adults, $90 for corporate teams and $75 for relay teams. All proceeds go toward the United Way.

“Last year we were able to raise more than $5,000 and we hope to do that again this year. This money benefits our organization and our community,” Barkley said.

If you are wishing to participate, the last day to register for the event is Aug. 17. To register, go to the United Way’s website at http://unitedwaymcpherson.org.