EAST TAWAS – A change is in store for the 12th annual 3 Disciplines Sunrise Side Triathlons, which will begin and end in East Tawas on Saturday.

The athletes will compete in one of six distance events Olympic and Sprint triathlons, Olympic and Sprint Aquabikes, Super Sprint and a Sprint KayaTri, according to Kenny Krell owner of the sponsoring Burton-based 3 Disciplines Racing.

Missing this year will be the half ironman distance.

“With a heavy heart, the popular, long-standing half distance event on one of the country’s best half bike courses has been deleted,” according to the 3 Disciplines website. “With athletes choosing to support a billion dollar Chinese corporation versus a Michigan-based small business we had to make this unfortunate decision.  

“Kenny’s father personally designed this course years ago to take the place of the old “Paul Bunyan” event before he passed so it is a sad decision for him.”

The half ironman distance was the longest for the Sunrise Side event covering a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and ending with a 13.1-mile run.

The triathlons begin at 8 a.m. Saturday at the East Tawas Harbor Park. That’s when the Olympic athletes will enter Tawas Bay for a 1,500-kilometer swim. They will be followed by the Sprint distance athletes at 8:30 for a 500-meter swim and at 8:50 by Super Sprint distance athletes for a 200-meter swim.

After the swim, Olympic distance athletes will then bike 40 kilometers and finish with a 10-k run, while Sprint distance athletes will bike 20 kilometers before ending with a 5-k run. Super Sprint distance athletes will bike 10 kilometers and finish with a one mile run.

Courses will be laid out on Tawas Bay for the swims. The swims will be in the shallow water area parallel to the beach at the East Tawas City Park. The athletes will each start at the same point and will eventually head toward the East Tawas State Dock. 

After completing the swims, the athletes will immediately head toward the transition area on Newman Street in downtown East Tawas where they will begin the bike portion of the races.

“This is one of our favorite courses we have, if not the best one,” Krell said of the bike course. “If you count 20 cars past the two-mile mark on the course, it will be very rare.

“This is smooth sailing the entire route, nothing rough out there. Pine trees line the course just about the entire way.”

Exiting the transition area, the bicyclists will make a right turn on State across Newman to another right turn on Bridge Street. An immediate right on Monument Road will take the competitors into the Huron National Forest.

Sprint and Olympic athletes will turn around at their respective 10- and 20-k marks labeled with large orange signs. 

The athletes will then return to the transition area, get off their bikes and put on their running shoes for their respective 10-k, 5-k or one-mile runs.

The running course is through the residential streets of East Tawas. 

Olympic Aquabike is a 1.5-k swim and a 40-k bike; and Sprint Aquabike is a 500-m swim and a 20-k bike. The Sprint KayaTri is two miles on a kayak or paddle board, 20-k bike and a 5-k run.

“Downtown East Tawas and Newman Street hosts the best finish line in the state,” Krell said.