LITTLE ELM — As the sport of triathlon gains popularity locally and a greater number of athletes seek places for the kind of training that provides realistic, race-level exercise, Little Elm is emerging as a prime destination for this purpose.


Triathlons challenge even the fittest athletes, as the sport includes swimming 2.4-miles in open water, biking for 112 miles and running a full 26.2-mile marathon. These all-day events often require months of training in all three disciplines, as runners and bikers must add swimming to their training regimen. In addition to these grueling Ironman distances, triathletes also compete in shorter sprint, Olympic, x-50 and half Ironman or 70.3 distance races.


Fortunately, Little Elm is particularly suited for training in the full gamut of the diverse aspects of the emerging sport, says Town Manager Matt Mueller, himself an avid triathlete. “The open water swim can be the most challenging for triathletes, especially if their only training has been in an indoor or outdoor pool,” he said. “Little Elm’s beach on Lake Lewisville can provide competition-level training virtually year-round.”


The lake’s proximity to North Texas athletes and training groups, its ease of access, the miles of runner-friendly, scenic trails, and the amenities in the flourishing Lakefront District that surrounds it make Little Elm an ideal training site for individuals and training teams.


To acquaint locals interested in entering the growing sport or looking for appropriate training areas, Little Elm will the site of the North Texas Triathlon Festival on Saturday, Sept. 30 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Little Elm Park, 701 West Eldorado Parkway.


Triathlons were started by two members of the San Diego Track Club in 1974. At the time, the two California athletes couldn’t have imagined this swim-bike-run combination would flourish into its own sport, even making an Olympic debut in 2000.


The North Texas Triathlon Festival is not a competition, but rather a way for local athletes to learn more about the sport, see the variety of personal and mechanical equipment available, speak with vendors who specialize in prepping for the races and meet others who share their interest in the sport. Vendors will provide free prize giveaways, and demo bikes will be available for test rides. All local triathlon clubs will be represented. And, of course, the festival is a way to showcase Little Elm as a training site.


Although the festival is not a sanctioned triathlon or USAT event, there will be groups swimming, riding and running throughout the event. The event is free and will include guest speakers on various aspects of training, swimming, bicycles and their care and running. Additional sponsors include I Love my Bike Transport, Velofix and Octane Athletics Training Systems.


Fuzzy’s Tacos will have breakfast tacos and beverages for purchase.