RNC triathlon showcases fitness of Twin Cities

The fittest mayor in America wants the world to know his city is fit as well.
September 03, 2008

Chosen the “Fittest Mayor in America” by Men’s Fitness magazine , Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak is known for his athleticism. During the Republican National Convention, he got a chance to show his city is in shape as well.

“Minneapolis is one of the fittest cities in the country,” Rybak said moments before stepping on his bike to lead the second leg of the More to Tri modified triathlon.

The triathlon, sponsored by Lifetime Fitness, ran Monday through Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. each day. Day one was the run, followed by the bike portion on Tuesday and a swim on Wednesday. Each event was held in different locations — such as Lake Calhoun for the swim and around the Stone Arch Bridge for the bike ride — to showcase Minneapolis.

Everyone, including delegates and visitors for the Republican National Convention, was invited to participate .

One delegate, Mitch Harper, from Fort Wayne, Ind ., decided to partake.

“This is a good way to see the city,” Harper said. “I’ve already told my delegation about Minnehaha [Falls] and how pretty it was,” Harper said. Minnehaha Falls was the location of the run.

The bike race started at sunrise and participants rode over the Stone Arch Bridge, through St. Anthony Main and Nicollet and Boom Islands, ending at the Stone Arch Bridge after a final push along the Mississippi River.

Brian Crosby , a junior and member of the University Cycling Team , said he thinks Minneapolis is one of the best cities in the country for biking.

“I have ridden and raced all over the country, and Minneapolis is my favorite place to get around in,” Crosby said.

Minneapolis resident Nick Bolton and Eden Prairie resident Angie Hagl said they participated in the event just for something to do.

“We’re both pretty active,” said Bolton.

Harper said he thinks a lot of Minnesotans follow a fitness ethic.

“Folks look different in Minnesota,” he said. “It’s an active state.”

More to Tri was not only a way to showcase the fitness level of Minneapolis, but also the new Freewheelin bike program hosted by Humana and Bikes Belong . The program set up bike sharing at each national convention to spark interest for similar long-term programs.

The Stone Arch Bridge is the site of one of the bike-sharing stations, and some triathlon participants used the borrowed bikes.

“We were challenged by four members of Congress to hit 10,000 rides and 25,000 miles over the two conventions,” Humana spokesman Jim Turner said .

There were 5,500 rides and 26,000 miles ridden in Denver. In Minneapolis, 714 rode for 4,047 miles as of Tuesday morning.

The program brought 1,000 bikes to the Twin Cities, and stations are set up in both Minneapolis and St. Paul where people can borrow a bike to take with them and drop off at a station later, Turner said.

Rybak said a permanent bike-share program, which could be set up by next spring, would also affect the University community.

“The goal is that any business person or student can hop on a bike and get where they need to go,” he said. “I think it will be another way to bring the city and campus together. The light rail may be good, but bikes can be better.”

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