Putting on a triathlon is one thing.
Organizing the world’s largest indoor sprint triathlon is as big as it gets, and that’s exactly what the Oregon State Triathlon Club has done for 21 years.
“Every year the students manage to pull it off flawlessly,” Triathlon Club coach Michael Tasman said. “We always get a lot of positive feedback from the triathlon community.”
From its inception in 1993, the Beaver Freezer Triathlon has consistently grown. In popularity, reach and participation, the race has become one of the marquee spring races in the Northwest.
"I'm fortunate it's such a big event because a lot of the groundwork has been laid," Beaver Freezer Director Aaron Seipel said. Seipel, a junior, is taking part in his third Freezer as a Triathlon Club member.
"I've got a lot of resources because the event has been so successful."
A humble beginning is a fair way to describe the triathlon’s first few years of existence.
Back then the race had a capacity of 300 and the team “could usually fill them all up,” according to Tasman.
Interested triathletes could show up and register on the day of the race. It was no big deal, at just $5 more than preregistration.
Fast forward to the present, and that’s no longer an option.
Tasman, who started participating in the race in 1996 and became the Triathlon Club’s coach in 2003, said by the time he started coaching there was no longer a day-of-race registration. Applications for the race — the club’s main fundraiser — went out in February and by March the race was full.
That month-long period for participants to sign up continued to shrink as time went on, so the club started online registration. In 2009, the 300 spots were gone in 45 minutes.
"It's a really popular race in that it's well-run by the students," Tasman said. "It's also the first organized race of the calendar year (in the Northwest)."
In response to growing interest, Triathlon Club officers chose to expand the event from 300 to 600 participants in 2010. Expansion efforts were met by utilizing pools in both Dixon Recreation Center and Langton Hall.
Tasman, an engineer, configured a new bike rack system for the transition area on 26th street to accommodate twice as many participants, and the club sought out more volunteers to help manage the day-of-race responsibilities.
As had been the case all along, the expansion proved successful. Registration maxed out at 600 in just two hours and folks from all over Oregon and parts of the Northwest were traveling to Corvallis to race.
Now the 2013 edition has rolled around, and racers are venturing from as far as California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington and British Columbia to swim, bike and run in the 2013 Beaver Freezer.
The credit, Tasman said, goes all to the officers and members of the club and the volunteers that give their time to pull off the event.
"By virtue of building on itself we make it a more successful race each year," Tasman said. "I've never seen one (race) take step backwards. I've seen it improve from year to year."
Seipel said club members put in extensive work to put the race together — from seeking out sponsors and volunteers to organizing and coordinating sections of the race. All that effort keeps the successful tradition and strong reputation alive for the Beaver Freezer.
"You've got to live up to what's been done in the past," Seipel said. "I think it's been great. It's not an experience I would have gotten anywhere else."
The Beaver Freezer is a 500-yard swim, 12-mile bike and 3.1-mile run. Racers range in age from 16 years old to 65.
Course routes, maps and other information can be found on the Beaver Freezer website. Registration is $55 for individuals and $90 for relays (registration is full).
This year's Beaver Freezer is Saturday, April 6, and the Triathlon Club is still looking for volunteers to help on race day. If interested, visit the Beaver Freezer Volunteering web page.