The Coeur d’Alene Triathlon and Duathlon has been one of the most scenic races in the Northwest since 1984, hence the nickname, “The Scenic Challenge”. The coming year will mark the 36th anniversary of the race which will be held Saturday, August 8, 2020
The “Sprint Distance Triathlon” that was recently added was a huge success! We’re going to keep it, and as before, it will take off right after the Olympic race begins. The Scenic Sprint consists of a 500-yard swim, a 13-mile bike ride, and a 3.1-mile (5K) run. The sprint course will have women and men-specific wave starts to give novice triathletes a sense of confidence and safety.
The traditional Olympic distance (1.5K swim) and the Sprint distance (500 yards swim) both take place at Independence Point on Lake Coeur d’Alene, a body of water that stretches 30 miles long and up to 3 miles wide. All the bike courses follow Coeur d’Alene Lake Drive. For Olympic distance triathlon riders and Duathlon riders going the full 40K, the race leads to Mullan Trail Road for a challenging uphill course.
The run courses travel north along the Centennial Trail and the Spokane River. There are two turn-around points along the Centennial Trail: the 5K turn-around is in front of the University of Idaho/LCSC Harbor Center, and the 10K turn-around is on the Centennial Trail under the Seltice Way overpass. The course ends at the finish line in Coeur d’Alene City Park at the Triathlon Village adjacent to Lake Coeur d’Alene.
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
In 1984, Dave Daboll suggested to then Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce Manager Sandy Emerson that a triathlon would be an excellent idea to help promote the area. The idea was brought before the Visitor and Convention Committee (now the Convention and Visitors Bureau) and the planning for the first race began that spring. This group included Sandy Emerson, Rick Hoisington, Mike Rasor, John House, Ken Koep, Jim Headly, and Wade Griffith. Rick Hoisington was the first race director.
Seventy-five individuals and twenty teams boarded the cruise boats Mish-An-Nock and Danceawana, at the City Dock on Saturday, August 14, 1984 and cruised to the starting line at Arrow Point, three miles across Lake Coeur d’Alene. Seventy-five shivering swimmers lined up on a sinking dock, ready to plunge into 62 degree water that morning. The one mile swim, an out and back course, was marked with white detergent bottles tied by a long rope anchored to the bottom of the lake.
The bike part of the race followed a 19 1/2 mile course back to Coeur d’Alene along Highway 97, down Beauty Bay hill, across Interstate 90 to the Blue Creek Road (Old US Highway 10). This section of the course was especially tricky as it included a mile long, downhill stretch of gravel road. It then followed Interstate 90 into Coeur d’Alene and to the transition point in the parking lot behind the Coeur d’Alene Mines Building at Fifth and Front.
The run portion was much like it is today: runners followed a five and one-half mile course around the base of Tubbs Hill, through the Sanders Beach area, back to North Idaho College, and then to the finish line at Fifth and Front Streets.
John Tindall of Coeur d’Alene, finished first with a time of 2:00:32. Cathy Chay, Pullman, WA, was second. They each received $300. Third place went to Allen Wright of Moscow, ID. Wayne Wilson, Spokane, WA, was sixth and Randy Haddock, Coeur d’Alene, was seventh. A major reason for the race’s instant popularity was the area’s beauty and the challenging course; hence, the theme, “The Scenic Challenge” was adopted.