The 2017 female Rouge-A-Thlon winner was Jill Slayton, of Jackson. The 2018 edition will feature people running and biking in a race through the paths of Rouge Park in Detroit.

The 2017 female Rouge-A-Thlon winner was Jill Slayton, of Jackson. The 2018 edition will feature people running and biking in a race through the paths of Rouge Park in Detroit.

Photo provided by Tour de Troit

Rouge Park to host ‘Rouge-A-Thlon’ races

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published April 13, 2018

DETROIT — The outdoor event organizers of Tour de Troit are welcoming people to grab their helmets and lace up their running shoes for the second annual Rouge-A-Thlon race at 9 a.m. April 28 at Rouge Park.

The Rouge-A-Thlon will be a duathlon, which features a running portion followed by a biking portion and then a second running portion.

“There are two different distances,” explained Vittoria Katanski, the director of Tour de Troit. “One is a 10K run, then a 20K ride, then a 10K run, and the other is a 20K run, a 40K ride then a 20K run. They will be run at the same time and will start at the same time. They both circle the park on the park’s bike lane and running paths.”

Attendance is limited to 250 people; there are two tiers of registration. Regular registration costs $70 and includes a commemorative T-shirt and a finisher’s medal. VIP runners will receive a commemorative towel and a premium running placement for an extra $70. Registration can be found at Registration on the day of the event also is allowed.

The duathlon also is offering participants a limited number of two-member relay team registrations for an extra $15 per team. One team member will take part in the running portion, while the other will complete the biking portion.

Race packets will be distributed to participants the day of the race. All participants will enjoy post-ride refreshments from Amicci’s Pizza and Batch Brewing.

Proceeds from the event will go toward the Friends of Rouge Park, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded in 1986 to raise awareness of the need to clean up the Rouge River in southeast Michigan.

“Friends of the Rouge Park is an organization that has been advocating for the park, so it’s a great cause for people to support,” said Sally Petrella, the president of the Friends of Rouge Park. “People need to be able to run these races, but it’s totally worth it, and they are rewarded with some fresh baked pizza and craft beer.”

Funds raised will go toward maintenance and improvements of the park grounds and facilities.

“(The money) would be used to support our work to improve the park,” said Petrella. “This includes cleanups; improvement projects, such as new signage; developing new nature trails; and some facilities, like a new splash pad for kids to play on next to the swimming pools, new ball fields and new picnic shelters, which we also are trying to co-fund with some grant money.”

2017 was the inaugural year for the Rouge-A-Thlon, and Katanski said feedback from it was strong. It also benefited the Friends of Rouge Park.

“I loved last year,” remarked Katanski. “The feedback we got from everyone was that it was a great, old-school, intimate event. We like that it has the bells and whistles of a large event, but it’s very Detroit-oriented with a local attitude. People really left with a smile on their faces.”

The only major change from the first year is the addition of the longer distance route in addition to the shorter one.

The races are not sanctioned duathlons, so neither can be used as a prerequisite race for other events, but Katanski said it’s a good opportunity to get in a practice race early in the duathlon and triathlon seasons. 

“It’s an incredibly unique event,” she said. “There’s not a lot of duathlons out there, and it’s a great chance to train outside in a great setting. We hope people take the opportunity to get a nice, early spring event in. It’s also shorter than most duathlons, so it’s a good first-time event for those who want to try it out. … We’ve wanted to host some events there for some time, and last year, we got to. It’s a good chance to prepare for the triathlon season, and it’s a nice, easy, beautiful route.”

Petrella agreed that it’s a great opportunity for duathletes, but added that anyone who enjoys the outdoors can have a fun experience at the 982-acre park.

“We are always trying to get more people out in Rouge Park. It’s the city’s largest park, but it’s very underused and it is a great destination for people,” said Petrella. “It’s a beautiful park that has great natural beauty and has 4 miles of the Rouge River going through it. It has swimming pools, a golf course, a camping area, a horse barn, an archery range and miles of trails.”