After more than a year of ideation and planning, the 1st Annual Y-Knot-Tri is officially in the books. First time events can be nerve-racking and laden with surprises (both welcome and unwelcome), but due to the impeccable planning of its organizers, dedication of its volunteers, and generosity of its sponsors, success is the one word that comes to mind as I sit down to write this reflection.
When I arrived at Ohuta Beach Park at the break of dawn on the morning of the Tri to help with the set up, there was a general calm in the air that I’m not always used to in the hours prior to showtime. Organizers and volunteers were busy with their tasks and moving with a fluidity that gave the impression they had done this many times before. From across the park, I spotted Chamber Board Member and Triathlon Organizer, Joe White and asked him how he felt like things were going. In his trademark low-key manner he offered a calm smile and a simple, “It’s going really well.” Of course it was. This event was the result of hundreds of hours of thinking, planning, and now, doing by a committee of dedicated and diligent community members that poured their hearts, souls, and skills into it. It was a thing of beauty before the fist paddlers even left the starting line.
As the participants started arriving, music and the aroma of smoked brisket from one of the food vendors filled the park. While the morning commenced with a bright and golden sunrise, clouds now started rolling in. However, almost as if the detail-oriented organizers had planned it, the clouds didn’t contain rain, just welcome shade for those who were about to paddle 2.5 miles, cycle 14 miles, and run a 5k. As it approached 9AM, and the paddlers were instructed to get into their kayaks and canoes, any wind that was blowing vanished, and absolutely perfect weather conditions were set for the start of the race. A hundred or more friends, family members, curious spectators, and volunteers lined the beach and the park wall as the horn sounded. There were some chuckles as a red canoe struggled to find its groove (sorry red canoe folks), and gasps as some of the kayakers raced ahead almost as if they had a little 5-horse hidden behind their rigs.
The smooth start carried through to the rest of the race. The participants transitioned from kayak to saddle to running shoes, and as the first contestants crossed the finish line, live music from Minneapolis blues duo Heatwave and Landman rang out of the pavilion. Joe read off the list of winners along with their times (efficiently collected by Wayzata Results) and smiling, exhausted racers hugged their loved ones and began to cool down. Just like that a year of meetings, emails, phone calls, website and registration design, marketing, soliciting volunteers and donations, making checklists and checking them off, and a complex 2-day set up were over in less than 3 hours. Uffda.
I’ve already addressed the work that the Y-Knot committee and volunteers poured into this event, now I want to say a few words about the Tri’s sponsors. Holy smokes, you folks are awesome! I’ve been involved in organizing and hosting community events for the better part of two decades, and I have never seen anything quite like the community and business support that was given to this inaugural event. In almost every new event situation I’ve been part of in the past, it takes years of proving the concept to reach a sponsorship level that the Y-Knot obtained in year one. Much of this can be traced to the good will and social capital the organizers have amassed in Lake City, and by being known throughout the community as responsible and dependable people of action. However, part of it can also be traced to the incredible generosity that is evident in this city, and the sponsors enthusiasm to take a risk on something that is sure to become a standout in Lake City’s ever-growing portfolio of signature events. I’ll include all the sponsors in a graphic below, but I’d like to take a sec to recognize the Y-Knot’s Presenting Sponsor, The Stables RV and Autowash, Gold Sponsors, Mayo Clinic Health System, and Ackermann Total Eye Care, and Silver Sponsors, Acrotech, Pepin Valley Dental, Lake Pepin Pet Clinic, and Innovative Chiropractic Center. Without you and the many other sponsors, the Y-Knot would not have been the incredible, professionally done, and well attended event it ultimately was.
Finally, to the participants, thank you. People came from Lake City and all across the region to compete in the event, and upon first impression it is clear that our little Tri won their hearts over. I talked to scores of people after the race, and in every case, they were impressed with the event, offering praise, thanks, and good-natured constructive criticism to assist us in continuing to make the Y-Knot bigger and better next year. A special congrats goes out to the winners, including the Chamber’s own (and always impressive) Elizabeth Greenawalt and her husband Joe, who both finished 1st in their respective divisions!
The day continued with a successful, if slightly cool, Float-a-Palooza. It was fun to see the kids smiling, playing, collecting their prizes, and getting their faces painted. Loud Mouth Brass rocked the pavilion, and Ohuta Park, which has become the epicenter of wide-ranging community gatherings this summer, came alive yet again.
I arrived home after dusk, tired, but smiling as I counted all the blessings on display on one day in mid-August in the small but mighty Lake City, Minnesota… So thankful for what has already been accomplished, and even more excited for what is yet to come.
Executive Director, Lake City Chamber of Commerce
Special thank you to the Y-Knot-Tri Core Committee
Joe White Chuck Ramsay Mal McCarty Jeff Daggett Ann Nibbe Dan Coyle Nancy Rigelman Elizabeth Greenawalt