By Cindy O. Herman
For The Daily Item
MIFFLINBURG -- "Quit making pathetic excuses" and do this, says Mark Alexander on his website for Tri, Tri Again, the looping triathlon he created on his wooded, hillside property.
Tri, Tri Again? It's much like the XTERRA triathlon in West Virginia that Alexander and his wife, Julie, participated in a few years ago. That inspired him to create a similar experience on his property. Only problem: he's limited to 115 acres -- not enough room for the typical, miles-long triathlon. His solution: loop it.
"Trail run, mountain bike, lake swim -- repeat," the website says, and that's what Tri, Tri Again athletes do. About two-and-a-quarter miles of running, two-and-a-quarter of biking and 150 yards of swimming -- as many times as you can in three hours.
"The most that top athletes do is five loops," Alexander said. "About 25 miles of run-bike-swim."
He started the looping triathlon with the help of dozens of friends and volunteers nearly seven years ago. With chainsaws and weed-wackers they cleared trails that are now partially kept open by the deer and bears that roam there -- when humans aren't racing by, gasping for breath.
"It's all about abusing their bodies to help others," Alexander said with a wide grin, explaining that he donated profits from the first Tri, Tri Again to the mission fund of his church, First Lutheran, in Mifflinburg. Since then he's donated to WGRC, a contemporary Christian radio station, and last year, to Kelsey's Dream, which helps children with cancer, and the Mike Hobbins Recovery Fund, for a local man who lost his sight in a hunting accident.
"I tell (participants) at the beginning of the race, it might be rough for three hours," Alexander said, "but it pales in comparison to losing your eyesight or being a child and losing your life to cancer."