Despite snowfall, Gold Nugget Triathlon still scheduled for Sunday

Beth Bragg

Keep calm, carry on and check your email -- that's the advice to triathletes wondering if a mid-May snowfall will disrupt Sunday's Gold Nugget Triathlon.

Any decision on changes, delays or cancellation will be made early Sunday morning and announced around 7:30 a.m. on the race's Facebook page and in a mass email to entrants, race organizers said Friday.

If there is no announcement via email or Facebook by 7:45 a.m., that means the race will go on as planned, according to Sheila Swanson, president of the race's board of directors.

"We're hoarding snow melt and things like that at the moment," she said on a snowy Friday afternoon, 36 hours before the race's scheduled start.

Created in 1984, the Gold Nugget is the longest-running all-women's triathlon in the country and has never been cancelled or postponed.

Its fate will be decided early Sunday morning after officials check out the course, particularly the 12-mile bicycle course.

The 500-yard swim in Bartlett's indoor pool and the 4.1-mile run can happen in bad weather, but snow and ice could raise safety concerns on the bike course.

Swanson said if the bike course is deemed unsafe, the triathlon could become a duathlon, consisting of the swim and the run.

Or, officials could determine that the course will improve later in the day, and delay the 9 a.m. start by a few hours.

Any changes will be posted at the Bartlett pool, on the wall next to the roster of racers, Swanson added.

"There's always a challenge every year with this race, and every year we always overcome it," she said. "That's the magic of this race."

The forecast calls for better weather by Sunday.

Where's the race?

The triathlon starts and ends at Bartlett High, where parking will be at a premium.

Parking before 8:30 a.m. is available in the school's back parking lot, accessible by turning right at the first traffic light, the one that leads to the school and the Native Heritage Center.

Parking after 8:30 a.m. is available at Tikahtnu Commons in a lot specifically designated for the race. For access, turn left at the second traffic light only.

Handicap parking is in the main Bartlett parking lot.

Where's the course?

The 500-yard swim is in the Bartlett pool.

The 12-mile bike course follows the bike path east on the Glenn Highway, crosses the Fort Richardson overpass and ends near the Moose Run golf course.

The 4.1-mile run follows the tank trails to the Muldoon overpass and returns to Bartlett.

Race nuggets

Among the race's 1,564 participants, about one-third are first-time triathletes -- 587.

The oldest racer is 80. The youngest is 9.

There are 144 mother-daughter teams.

Besides Alaska, racers hail from 13 states -- Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

Honor roll

In last year's 29th running of the Gold Nugget, Amber Stull became the ninth woman to win the race. She edged Shannon Donley to deprive Donley of what would have been a record-setting ninth victory.

Donley and Alice Godfred, who reigned during the triathlon's formative years, own eight titles apiece. Trudy Ferguson, Laurie Abrams and Lori Deschamps own three apiece.

Three other women each have claimed one title -- Kikkan Randall, Rachel Steer and Lisa Keller.

Reach Beth Bragg at or 257-4335.