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Pittsburgh Triathlon continues to grow

| Thursday, July 26, 2012, 9:34 p.m.

Chad Holderbaum has competed in triathlons from Idaho to Hawaii, but Pittsburgh is home, and the Ironman athlete will always have a place in his heart for his hometown race.

“(The Pittsburgh Triathlon) was the very first triathlon I ever did, so it has special meaning to me because it kick-started the whole process for me,” said Holderbaum, 32, of Irwin. “That's why it's so important to me, and just trying to continue to grow the multi-sport community in Pittsburgh.”

Holderbaum recently qualified to make his fourth trip to compete in the Hawaii Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, this fall, but he'll be on the North Shore on Sunday to defend his 2011 Pittsburgh Triathlon title.

The Pittsburgh Triathlon is the main fundraiser for Friends of the Riverfront, the non-profit that is responsible for the Three Rivers Heritage Trail and works to increase awareness and usage of the city's waterways, among other duties.

The course takes competitors into the Allegheny River for the swim portion, onto the HOV lane of I-279 to the Perrysville exit and back for the bike leg and along the Allegheny toward Millvale for the run. This year, for the first time, the race will be held over two consecutive days, with the sprint distance and adventure race Saturday and the international distance race Sunday.

Because of limited space for a transition area along the North Shore, the race can only accommodate 1,000 competitors, and separating the events will allow the race to grow. Friends of the Riverfront executive director Tom Baxter said the race is capped at 1,500 this year for both events, an increase of 500 over 2011, and next year they hope to host 2,000 racers.

“It's been a tremendous upswing,” Baxter said. “More people are interested in experiencing the outdoor amenities we have in the Pittsburgh region, the trails and the rivers. It's just natural for the race to continue to grow.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7980.

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