The Chile Harvest Triathlon has been an annual tradition in Socorro for more than a quarter century. The event was founded by a community organization known as the Socorro Striders and Riders, which focuses on hosting running, biking and triathlon events in the area. The race will return on Aug. 5 and Aug. 6, following a two-year hiatus which came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and renovations to city pool used for the swimming portion of the triathlon in 2021. Registration is $75 for individual participants and $125 for relay teams and closes on Aug. 3.
“We’re excited,” said Luis Contreras-Vidal, race director. “It’s our fundraiser for our group and we use part of that money to fund the local cross country team or the track team or support all the small (sporting) events … We’re very excited to bring this event back. A lot of the volunteers are people that live here in town. It’s a big community event.”
Officially dubbed as a sprint triathlon (distances on these can vary slightly depending upon who is holding the event), this particular race consists of a 400-meter swim, a 20-kilometer bike ride and a five-kilometer run.
“The 5K is pretty flat, like a small uphill (portion) but overall it’s pretty flat and goes through the neighborhoods,” Contreras-Vidal said. “The bike ride has some good hills, but it’s not too difficult.
“It’s a triathlon for people to be able to finish.”
In other words, it’s not quite as daunting a task as say, the renowned Kona (Hawaii) Ironman Triathlon, but it is challenging enough to bring athletes from throughout the state and surrounding areas. It doesn’t hurt that the race is recognized by USA Triathlon, the national governing body for the sport. As of mid-July, Contreras-Vidal said more than 90 participants had registered, so it could eventually rival the more than 120 that signed up for the last iteration in 2019.
“It’s a good comeback,” he said. “USAT brings more triathletes that are interested in having races under their belt.”
While the race demographic consists of a fair amount of veteran triathletes, Contreras-Vidal says there are also less-experienced participants who sign up for the fun of it. Quite a few of those join the relay portion, where the race responsibilities can be divvied up among the group.
“You see a group a friends come in together to try to finish a triathlon in different legs,” Contreras-Vidal said. “It’s like teams of two or three. Any of them can do a different part. It’s fun to see somebody be like, ‘My friend is doing the cycling and I’m doing the running.'”
Contreras-Vidal is a dedicated trail runner and ultra marathoner himself, but he also made his first foray into triathlons in Socorro. He believes having the swimming portion of the race in a pool, rather than in open water, cuts down on the intimidation factor.
“It was pretty fun. I enjoyed it a lot. It wasn’t hard to finish,” he said. “I really enjoyed the fact it was in the pool. I think that’s a benefit, maybe. Swimming in open water can be scary for a lot of people if you’re not experienced. Being able to do your first triathlon in a pool, I think that’s a great opportunity.”
For solo competitors, Contreras-Vidal strongly suggests becoming adept at moving from one aspect of the race to the next.
“Work on the transitions, especially the transition from cycling to running is the hardest,” he said. “You use different muscles in your legs, so by the time you get off the bike it’s going to be really hard to run if you didn’t work on those transitions.” At this year’s race, food trucks will be part of the festivities, and there are typically plenty of friends and family on hand to cheer on the athletes.
“Just overall we’re very excited to have this event back,” Contreras-Vidal said. “It’s an event that puts Socorro on the map.”