No matter who takes home awards from this year's Stride, Ride, Glide Triathlon, the star of the race will be the Superior Municipal Forest. The city's forest ski trails are the best in the Twin Ports, according to race director Eve Graves.
"Nothing even compares to it because there's variety - you've got the flat; you've got the hills; you've got the in-between," she said. "They're wide and the fact that they're groomed seven days a week is just amazing."
For the Duluth resident, it's worth the drive over the bridge to enjoy the Superior trails. She's not the only one.
"I continually hear people mentioning that they skied the trails for the first time and they were amazed at how well they are maintained and about the serenity and beauty of the trails in the forest," Superior Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Linda Cadotte said.
Participants who run, bike or ski in the Sunday, March 3, triathlon will be seeing the forest in arguably it's most beautiful season.
"I'm always just kind of blown away by the beauty of just what it looks like back there," Superior Mayor Jim Paine said. "In the fall and especially the winter, it's an absolute paradise back there and I think far too few citizens have really experienced it."
The mayor plans to participate in the event this year, and he's going solo. That means a 5K run followed by a 10K bike course and 11K of cross-country skiing, instead of splitting the legs among teammates.
Paine said he believes he'll represent the city well in at least two of the legs.
"I've been doing a lot of running and biking lately, so I thought I would do those, and I was like, why not go for all three?" he said. "It's just I haven't cross-country skied since I was a kid, so I've got to figure that part out."
The city began grooming the trails seven days a week last year.
Graves appreciated the work the city poured into its trails so much that she organized the triathlon fundraiser.
"She's been a tremendous asset to the forest, both by helping to organize this event and also of her advocacy of the trails," Cadotte said.
The proceeds from last year's inaugural event went to offset the purchase of new grooming equipment for the trails. This year's proceeds will also be funneled back into the forest, specifically for ongoing trail maintenance.
Last year's trails were so tightly packed, participants didn't need a fat tire bike for the cycling leg, Graves said. But if they want one, rental bikes are available at the College of St. Scholastica and University of Minnesota Duluth
New this year are creative age group and overall awards, which will be presented on-site, as well as classic tracks and a chance to win entry into a 2020 American Birkebeiner event of the winner's choice. A new connector allowed Graves to extend the closed course, and ensured none of the three legs has to share.
"It's just a chance to experience a part of Superior that I think a lot of people haven't seen," Paine said. "It's also a reminder that there's fun stuff to do outdoors within the city limits of Superior all year long."
Only 100 entries will be accepted. The cutoff for registration is 4 p.m. Saturday, March 2. Reduced registration prices are available for high school and college participants.
Visit the "Stride, Ride, Glide Triathlon" Facebook page to connect to the registration site.