Ryan Chartrand

People have been partying at Wildflower for 26 years, but does everybody know what they’re celebrating?

As one of the largest triathlons worldwide, the Wildflower races, or Avia Wildflower Triathlons, held at Lake San Antonio, draw upward of 7,500 athletes and 30,000 spectators and volunteers annually – including 1,200 volunteers from Cal Poly, according to sponsorship coordinator Colleen Bousman.

“We’re excited to have the number back up to 1,200,” she said.

Wildflower consists of three races: the long course, which is at 8 a.m. Saturday and is comprised of a 1.2-mile swim (in 65- to 68-degree water), a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run, the mountain bike, which is at 9:45 a.m. the same day and is a quarter-mile swim, a 9.7-mile bike ride and a 2-mile run, and the Olympic, which is at 9 a.m. Sunday and includes a 1.5-kilometer swim, a 40-kilometer bike ride and a 10-kilometer run.

The long course was expanded in the 1980s to the half-Ironman distance it is now, while the other two were added later.

Currently, Terenzo Bozzone of New Zealand and Samantha McGlone of Canada hold the course records. Bozzone completed the long course in three hours, 53 minutes and 43 seconds in 2006, while McGlone finished in four hours, 31 minutes and eight seconds the same year.

According to Tri-California Events, Wildflower racers are of the average age of 40 and participate in a median of five races a year. Additionally, there are a number of unique stories, including this year’s “generation team,” which includes a woman, her mother and grandmother.

Between races, volunteers and spectators spend their time at Beach City, with activities including live music from bands like Still Time, The Little Heroes, The Vain, and Unknown. There will also be plenty of food, including burritos, tri-tip, pasta, crepes, smoothies and coffee, as well as innovative gear and equipment, race clinics and a sports expo, beginning at noon today and lasting until 4 p.m. Sunday.

Something new at the event this year will be Tri-Cal TV featuring footage of the races as well as volunteers, which will later be aired on YouTube.

Of course, participants don’t just race for personal gratification. They can also win prizes, including medals for all finishers, plaques for those in first, second and third, and $40,000 distributed to the top 10 racers in both the male and female divisions.

Also, sponsors offer $400 for the fastest swim time and for the leaders at specified bike and run locations.

Tri-California Events, which hosts Wildflower, donates profits to organizations including the Official Charity of AVIA Wildflower, Team in Training and Monterey County Parks and Recreation.

Cal Poly clubs and organizations can earn money by volunteering at the event as well.

Different companies sponsor Wildflower every year; this year, the official energy bar sponsor is PowerBar, the official gel sponsor is PowerGel, and the official energy drink is Gatorade Endurance. These are available at the event, so racers try to train on those products specifically. Earthwater is the official water sponsor.

Registration ended April 24, and prices ranged from $75 to $120 per relay team and $90 to $250 for individual age groups, depending on the course. Registrants can be of any age and could purchase special equipment upon registration.

There are limited spots for each course, so participants are always advised to register as early as possible.

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