The Newaygo County Kids Triathlon began in 2002 by Michigan State Police Trooper Kevin Sweeny, with assistance from Fremont Police Officer Matt Hendrie. In 2004, Trooper Sweeny moved on to a new position and the Kids Triathlon was taken on soley by the Fremont Police Department. Over 70 kids, ages 2-17, participate in the Kids Triathlon each summer.
After much success in the Kids Triathlon, questions were beginning about bringing an adult triathlon to the area. It was determined that the Fremont Police Department wanted to bring a triathlon to the area that could be attended by all types of athletes. A way to challenge themselves and not feel the pressures of a major event. We wanted to make this event one of comradery, friendships, and a fun and rewarding experience. To give adults the chance to try new things and push themselves in a swim/bike/run(walk). In 2006, 39 people stepped up and competed in the first West Michigan Triathlon.
In 2007, the word was out of how much fun the West Michigan Triathlon was and we began to partner with many organizations to spread the word further about our event. 106 participants came out in 2007 to begin the challenge of the newley designed course including a 300 yard swim, 9.25 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run, with all participants completing the course.
2008 was another year of records as 187 participants set course around the Fremont Lake, Town and Country Path, Fremont Industrial Park, and country setting of Reeman. Aaron Barber, Grand Rapids, blazed through the event in record fashion, breaking the course record by :53 seconds in a time of 49:06.5. The female event and new record was established by Kent City's Jill Evers-Bowers in a time of 55:37.5.
In 2009, weather made its first challenge in the Kids Event but the "show must go on". Mother Nature cleared up long enough to put the kids on course and get the event in with just over 80 participants.
The Adults saw much different weather in the afternoon as the clouds moved aside and the sun and heat crept in for a warm and humid race. The wind picked up and the waves made the swimming a little tougher than in the past, but everyone got out in three separate heats and we were off. Aaron Barber became the first two-time champion of the event. In the women's event, Leann Murphy came all the way from Rochester, IL and broke the women's course record in a time of 53:38.
2010 brought new record numbers as we capped the adult event at 225 triathletes to allow for the family-friendly atmosphere to continue. Registration was filled by April and the planning went on. Over 75 kids and 200 adults braved the courses and heat to finish the event.
In 2011, we had our first weather cancellation. We were able to get the 60+ kids off in the morning, before the storms moved in and lightening cancelled the adult event just 15 minutes after it began. With some many people out having a good time, we couldn't let that just be the end. On 9-10-11, we completed our first "reTRI" and the weather was beautiful. Jimi Minnema, Utica, completed the course in blazing speed and setting a new course record in 42:11. Our own Carol Jones, Fremont, came out of the 50 and up division to claim the women's title in 2011.
2012 brought a record amount of triathletes with over 250 registered. Once again registration filled up fast and the weather was absolutely perfect. Fremont Alumni Bill Jones from LaJolla, CA took the top spot for the men in 44:20. The women were led by Cathy Enns of Hart with a time of 59:25.
2013 once again showed the wide range of tri-athletes ready to take the challenge. Jimi Minnema returned to claim the overall title, after a year's absence, with a time of 43:10 . Jill Evers of Kent City doubled up her top of the leaderboard (2008) as the women's overall champion in 57:58. There was also an over 60 age group added in 2013 with 11 male participants and 2 female. Cedric Stressman and Richard Vanlente proved age is just a number by finishing the race at the young age of 73 to be our oldest competitors. Our youngest ever athletes participated at 13 years old.
2014 was a year of beautiful weather and new and improved timing features, facility upgrades, and course safety.
Many groups have made a day out of it with friends and family competing and watching the event, then dinner afterwards. We hope that 2015 will be as much of a success. Some changes are in the process, but one thing will never change, we want to make it FUN for all. Hope to see you at the 2015 West Michigan Triathlon on Saturday, August 8.