Copyright 2014 Albuquerque Journal
Jay Benson is back. The largest triathlon in New Mexico — which is said to be the oldest continuing triathlon in the country — will return to Albuquerque on May 11, Mother's Day.
But this year, Jay Benson Triathlon participants will run on a course based at the West Mesa Aquatic Center, 6705 Fortuna NW, rather than at Kirtland Air Force Base, where it had taken place for years.
The bombing at the Boston Marathon last spring prompted organizers to cancel the 2013 event. Increased security requirements took effect on base after the Boston bombings and, with about a month to go before the event, it was just too late to get clearance for the some 2,000 participants and thousands of spectators.
"We started working on this year's event the day after we canceled," said Angie Kandalaft, owner of Chasing3 Race Productions. "It's a new course (for 2104) and we're very excited to bring this race to the community. I can't say enough about the support and cooperation we have gotten from the city (of Albuquerque's Outdoor Recreation department) on this."
This year's triathlon will be a true "sprint triathlon" distance, which includes a 5K run, 20K bike and 100 meter swim. "The course at Kirtland (Air Force Base) was never a true 5K," Kandalaft said. Duane Kinsey, owner of Sports Systems, said the new venue will be a good one. "A lot of the triathlons in the area are on the same course, so we are excited to have a new venue for this one. It's going to be a great race," he said. He points out that the event will have the use of the entire West Mesa Aquatics center, so families can bring the younger kids to play in the wading pool while they wait for the finishers.
Because of the open course, however, the triathlon will not have a race for the youngest kids. There will be youth divisions in the full triathlon.
"It's a safety issue," Kandalaft said.
Course specifics have not yet been released.
Sports Systems, 6915 Montgomery NE, will host a triathlon kickoff party from 6-8 p.m. Feb. 11. Those attending the kickoff party are guaranteed entry to the event. Online registration will open at 8 a.m. Feb. 12 for the remaining spots. This event generally sells out in hours, so Kandalaft said the kickoff party is the best bet for those who want to make sure they get a spot.
The kickoff party will also have a lot of information available for those who want to get started in the sport of triathlon.
"Jay Benson has always been a very beginner-friendly event," Kinsey said.
The 2013 triathlon would have been the 36th consecutive year for the event, named after Sandia National Laboratories scientist and sports enthusiast Jay Benson. He died from complications of diabetes in 1979. He was 44.
The race beneficiary again this year is the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.