Say you’re a St. Louis-area athlete wishing to participate in a major metropolitan triathlon or off-road tri. Until now, that meant trekking to Kansas City, Chicago, Nashville or even farther.

Not anymore. This summer, on May 22, Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park will host two (yes, two) new events intended to not just land the Gateway City on the triathlon map but put it right at the epicenter. The St. Louis Triathlon will offer flat, fast Olympic and sprint distances, while the XTERRA St. Louis will present a 750-meter swim, 14.5-mile mountain bike and 4-mile trail run.

“We didn’t have a single, galvanizing triathlon, and that’s what we wanted to bring to the city,” said Richard Adams of MSE Racing, organizers of the St. Louis Triathlon. “When Mike [Barro of Swim Bike Run] came on board and started talking about including XTERRA, it was a natural. It takes this event and raises it to another level that is beyond comparison in our region.”

Indeed, St. Louis will be one of a rare few cities in the U.S. to have both a major triathlon and off-road tri on the same day. The two events will share the swim course, transition area and start/finish chute. “Combined, I’d love to see 1,000 athletes at these two events,” said Adams. “That would make us the largest triathlon in Missouri.”

Of course, it’s not just about quantity but quality, too, and the races have a number of notable features. “We are the first para-friendly [USA Triathlon] race in St. Louis,” said Adams. “It means the grades on the course have to meet a certain standard, and that took some work, but it was important for us to be as inclusive as possible.”

Other highlights: water buoys clearly marked with distances and placed every 100 meters; drone footage of the swim segment broadcast on TVs in the transition area; bike corrals that offer 2 feet of space per athlete rather than jammed pipe racks; water stations every mile; and road closings to maximize safety and performance.

“MODOT has agreed to close down lanes on 141,” said Adams. “That offers a higher level of safety and encourages the athletes to go all out, because they know they’re secure and that no cars will be coming up behind them.”

The XTERRA mountain bike and trail run segments will utilize Bootleggers Trail in the upper section of Creve Coeur Park. “It’s basically the same course as the Creve Coeur Heartbreaker, which was the Missouri State Championship mountain bike race last year,” said Barro. “If anybody has been curious about XTERRA, this is a great opportunity. It’s beginner-friendly but also challenging.”

The races will conclude with a festival-type atmosphere that includes food and beverages, stretching and yoga, active release and recovery for athletes, and more. “The unsung heroes are the spectators, so we want to have something for them as well,” explained Adams. “We’re excited to have participants from 18 states signed up so far, from as far away as New Jersey, California, Texas and Nebraska.

“We’ve been real pleased at the geographical reach we’ve gotten in the first year. You have these other metro triathlons in other cities, and here we are at the hub of this big geographic wheel, and we’re hungry for this,” said Adams. “As far as I’m concerned, St. Louis is the finest metropolitan area in the country, and we wanted to bring something unique and awesome to the table.”

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