On Sept. 21, the City of Olathe plans to put the spotlight on one of its newest attractions by drawing runners, swimmers and bicyclists to the area.
The city will host the Lake Olathe Triathlon to highlight a two-year renovation of the 170-acre lake and 258-acre community park. New amenities at this recreation destination include a beach and marina, paved trails, a nature playground and a 6,500 square-foot enclosed event pavilion with a glass front overlooking the lake.
Last year, while Lake Olathe was in the midst of its transformation, plans were launched for the triathlon at the suggestion of Parks and Recreation Director Michael Meadors.
“Michael wanted to bring a triathlon to Olathe, having organized several with the county before,” said Paul Krueger, City of Olathe park services manager and USA Triathlon certified race director. “He thought it would be great to coincide with the reopening.
“People who haven’t been here yet will get to see the upgrades, and the triathletes will experience the entire park while competing. The triathlon is going to be a signature event at a signature location.”
Krueger added that this race is a great option for someone new to the sport because course distances are shorter than in other triathlons. Sanctioned by USA Triathlon, the Lake Olathe course features a 500 meter swim, 10.3 mile bike ride and 2.7 mile run throughout and around Lake Olathe.
The shorter distances appealed to Kim Saule, who is currently training for the event. Saule, of Olathe, is a physical therapist by profession and has been a triathlete for seven years.
“It’s a manageable course for me and a nice goal to reach for,” she said.
A former competitive swimmer, Saule’s weekly training program includes multiple swims, bike rides and runs. Though there are challenges, Saule is committed to the competition.
“It’s not always easy to find the time to train with work and family,” she said. “Also, triathlons are very challenging, but they pay off. It’s one of the greatest feelings to complete one. It’s a real sense of accomplishment when I reach my goal.
“I’m not necessarily trying to win, but it feels good to push the limits of what I think I can do physically and mentally.”
Unlike Saule, Nakul Bhargava, of Overland Park, is new to the sport. However, he’s jumped in with a 100 percent commitment. Though he just started training for his first race in June, he completed two triathlons in August: the Cowboy Up Matt Mason Triathlon at Smithville Lake and the Bluff Creek Olympic Triathlon in Iowa. In September, he will compete in two more, including the Lake Olathe Triathlon.
For Bhargava, the triathlon journey has been one of the body, mind and spirit.
After coming to the United States in fall of 2017, Bhargava trained for and completed his first half marathon the following April. Though he had been a competitive soccer player and runner in India, his motivation ebbed following that race.
“I didn’t prepare for anything for over a year and abused my body (with) alcohol, cigarettes and food,” Bhargava said. “On June 23 of this year, I decided to turn my life around and registered for the Bluff Creek Triathlon.”
With the help of his wife, he rigorously trained for two hours a day and quit drinking, smoking and eating unhealthy food.
“I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it but after I started preparation, I saw how my whole life was changing. I could see I was getting stronger both mentally and physically very day.
“The day I finished my first triathlon was such a personal achievement. Never in my life have I pushed myself so hard.”
Bhargava’s wife is training with her husband and plans to participate in the triathlon with him.
“I want us to be known as ‘The Triathlete Couple’,” said Bhargava said.
Registration for the Lake Olathe Triathlon is $90 through Sept. 14, and $100 after that date. Race-day registrations will not be accepted. A TriKC Junior Triathlon will take place following the adult race. For more information on routes and registration, visit Lake Olathe Triathlon.