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Pittsburgh Triathlon sold out already

| Saturday, July 16, 2011

For the first time in 14 years, the Pittsburgh Triathlon sold out with more than two weeks left before race day.

A limited amount of space for a transition area at North Shore Riverfront Park forced the race, to be held July 31, to accept only 1,000 competitors. Registration reached that number Wednesday night.

The race also sold out last year, but not until race day, organizers said.

"I think we attribute a lot to the fact that we continue to put on a first-class event that people like, and I also think we've benefited from the great success of the marathon and people wanting to be outside," said Steve Tanzilli, president of Sports Legends Group and a race organizer.

The race consists of six events: the international distance triathlon and international relay, the sprint distance triathlon and sprint relay and the adventure race and adventure relay. Racers transition from the swim portion of the race to the bike and then to the run on the Great Lawn, east of Heinz Field. The area has space for just 1,000 bicycles, hence the cap.

Organizers hope next year to make the race two days instead of one to accommodate more racers and raise more money for Friends of the Riverfront.

Under a proposed new format, the sprint and adventure events would be Saturday, and the international distance race would be Sunday.

"We're trying to see if that's a possibility," race director Neil Semmel said. "We want to be very careful and make it a calculated move if we do that. You really have to look at every aspect."

Tanzilli believes the new format would work well, based on increasing numbers in the sprint and adventure races. Registration nearly doubled from approximately 450 in 2008 to just over 800 after the addition of the sprint race for the first time in 2009. In 2010, 138 racers completed the adventure race, and 373 finished the sprint race.

There are 162 registered for this year's adventure race and 443 for the sprint. There are 362 in for the international distance, with the rest registered for the relays.

"We're just landlocked, so one of the ways to increase participation and the money that goes back to the nonprofit is to go to two days," Tanzilli said. "I think it's feasible. We're going to strive to put it together for next year."

Additional Information:

Three in one

The Pittsburgh Triathlon offers three races, with relays available in each category, too. A look at what's available:

International distance: 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike, 10 km run

Sprint distance: 600-meter swim, 20 km bike, 5 km run

Adventure race: 2-mile kayak or canoe, 20 km bike, 5 km run

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