Shadow Cliffs park will be swarming Saturday with close to 800 runners, swimmers and bikers as they kick off On Your Mark Events' 26th annual Tri For Fun Triathlon Series.
The series continues through the summer, with additional Tri For Fun events taking place July 20 and Aug. 17 and culminating with a Tri for Real triathlon Sept. 15.
The Tri For Fun course features a 400-yard swim in Shadow Cliffs Lake, an 11-mile bike ride on flat streets, and a 3.1-mile run on a rolling fire trail. This adds up to a shorter distance than used in competitive events.
"Providing a fantastic experience for all participants is truly our main goal with the Tri For Fun," said event co-principal Mark Aiton. "There are now literally thousands of people who cut their triathlon teeth with the Tri For Fun, and they keep coming back, as well as take part with our other longer-distance triathlons."
Tri For Fun is an excellent event for first-time triathletes, noted the organizers, adding that it's not unusual to see a 9-year-old running alongside a 78-year old.
Throughout the series, at least 60 percent of all the participants will be beginners, Aiton said.
After novice athletes hone their skills at the first three Tri For Funs, they can meet the challenge of the final event -- the Tri For Real -- which is held at the same location, but with distances increased to a 700-yard swim, a 20-mile bike, and a 4-mile run. The Tri For Real is also professionally timed and gives out official results.
Many veteran triathletes say the Tri For Fun short course is a good way to sharpen their racing and transition techniques, Aiton said. This group is always sent out in the first wave, so they can jump way ahead of the less experienced.
For the past 25 years, the Tri For Fun triathlons have been non-timed and non-competitive, although a clock was at the finish line for participants to view their personal time. For the first time this year, triathletes can choose whether or not to be officially timed, with results posted on the results page at onyourmarkevents.com.
Check-in and registration will begin at 5 a.m., with the first wave hitting the water at 7 a.m. at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area, 2500 Stanley Blvd., Pleasanton. There is a 1,000-participant maximum for each triathlon.
Entry fee for the three Tri For Funs is $65 (non-timed) and $73 (chip timed) in advance; $10 will be added to race-day registrants. Participants will receive a commemorative T-shirt, refreshments, snacks and entry into a drawing. For September's Tri For Real, the fee is $75 in advance, and $85 the day of the race.
To learn more, go to onyourmarkevents.com or call (209) 795-7832.