BULLHEAD CITY – A triathlon consists of three legs of athletic endeavor: swim, bike, run, in that order. Length is what determines the level of athleticism displayed. The top tier triathlon, an Ironman, is a 2.4-mile (3.9k) swim, followed by a 112-mile (180.2k) bicycle race, and finished up with a 26.2-mile (marathon-length, 42.2k) run. The average time ranges from 14-17 hours, although many organizers extend that for athletes who had a tire repair/tube replace slow her down.

No? Yea, us neither. Maybe something shorter? Easier? But still challenging? Then check out the 19th annual Desert Juggernaut’s Mini Triathlon on Aug. 6, 7-10a, at Rotary Park, 2315 Balboa Dr. The swim is 1.5 miles (2.4k), the bicycle leg is 10 miles (16k), and the run/walk portion is 3.1 miles (5k).

Safety first, and Juggernaut’s Founder and Coach Jesse Oviatt bakes it into every element of the event. The first leg takes advantage of one of the area’s greatest resources: the Colorado River. In the water, are a rescue boat and rescue swimmers, trained and stationed. “Volunteers with those capabilities” are also appreciated, Oviatt said.

“The reality is, if you were to simply float” the swim course (1.5 miles), “you’ll be out of the water in 30 minutes,” said Oviatt. “The water pushes you that fast for that distance.” He requires swimmers to wear water shoes. “It’s more for their protection from glass, cans, pieces of metal,” he added. It’s helpful if athletes “have already done open-water swim.” According to the United States Bureau of Reclamation, “levels below the dam are usually biggest in the evening,” so expect low water levels at the 7a start.

For the bicycle portion (10 miles), athletes are required to wear safety equipment, specifically: “helmets, eye protection and gloves.” There are additional safety considerations for the bicycle leg of the race. “(Rotary) park has multiple entry points,” Oviatt said. “The course for the bicycle goes out into city, and circles back” into Rotary Park.

For both the cycling and running portions, Oviatt “doesn’t have problem (with support) following a cyclist in a vehicle,” but the cyclist doesn’t get any repair or rides or other support without forfeiting. “If the bike breaks, the participant has to fix it on their own,” he said.

Runners “can run with a water bottle” or backpack-style water reservoir, said Oviatt, and hydration is required. “I advise hat and sunglasses.” Again, the runner can have a hydration support assistant, but “no pushing, no towing; verbal guides only.”

“I had some of my adults come back to assist kids; they get confused with directions, especially when running out of the water,” said Oviatt. Adult athletes or volunteers are welcome to pace and support the kids–within the guidelines. “I have no problem with that,” he added, because it creates a greater safety net, and safety is the priority.

It’s a quick morning challenge, coming in at “less than three hours to finish,” said Oviatt. “For parents, most of my kids come out of the water in under 20 minutes,” he added. Oviatt stresses punctuality because, after reviewing the rules and guidelines, “we’ll begin at 7, and, by 7:30, leave the transition area,” he said. That’s a fast float/swim.

Interested in competing? “If they’re younger, under 18, they must go through training or have a card from US Tri Association,” said Oviatt. “If they’re an adult,

reach out to me as soon as possible.” He’ll walk-and-talk athletes through the course. Adults athletes are $75/each, while minors (includes training) is $45. Safety is emphasized. Within participants for the Aug 6 event, the field of a dozen or so includes “one 14-year-old; everybody else is adult,” said Oviatt. Most competing athletes are college age and into their late 20s.

Within Desert Juggernaut’s programs, Oviatt supports “a strong science and math base” in multiple aspects including fitness, of course, but also nutrition, motivation, lightweight gear, recovery, and UV-protectant clothing. The clothing has to swim, bike and run also; it needs to be flexible.

A coach’s philosophy carries through to the kids, and “I was enlisted,” Oviatt said of his veteran status. When asked, he advises teens and young adults interested in any branch to take advantage of any education opportunities needed to become an officer. “I’d rather them have more maturity, instead of expecting the military to give them maturity.” Another indication that a coach has a winning philosophy? The kids come back–and reach out. “I have one of the kids, a young entrepreneur, back into our program this year. A lot of my kids are now college graduates; they’re professionals reaching out to their communities.”

“It takes a lot of time, effort, energy to truly be a good athlete, an endurance athlete. Preparation takes time,” said Oviatt. He’s also realistic about the timing of results. “It took a long time to get out of shape,” he said. Sometimes it feels like it happened overnight, but “adult responsibilities are very different,” and the body incorporates and internalizes everything, including lack of restful sleep, which every parent experiences–some more extensive than others, and common among all.

Too late for this year? Oviatt will be announcing the 2024 date within a few weeks. Message Desert Juggernaut on Facebook, and reach out to him at 928-542-6745 for participation, volunteering, sponsorship opportunities and potential vendors.

Juliette Cowall