By Wausau Pilot and Review staff

Wausau’s first winter triathlon is expected to draw participants from throughout the Midwest and around the country.

Though most people are familiar with traditional triathlons, few have heard of a winter triathlon, which makes the IRONBULL Winter Triathlon a unique offering for outdoor enthusiasts. Taking advantage of the winter wonderland present in the Wausau area, racers will experience a triathlon on (frozen) water, on bike and then on foot.

Participants at the race will start cross country skiing — classic or skate — on a 6k loop, then transition to fat tire bikes. This race marks the first time fat tire bikes have been allowed at Nine Mile County Forest.  Bikers will follow 10k of snowshoe trails and Central Wisconsin Offroad Cycling Coalition’s maintained singletrack trails which have been transformed for fat biking for this event.

Finally, racers will switch to snowshoes, covering 5k on more singletrack trails.

The idea for this style race in Wausau was envisioned by race director, Rebecca Tuley, who is an avid outdoor enthusiast and mountain biker. After competing in Wisconsin’s first winter triathlon, the Forest Frenzy in Boulder Junction in 2017, she was inspired to bring a similar event back to her hometown.

“I knew Wausau had the prime location for such an event at Nine Mile County Forest and presented the idea to John Burke, former president of Wausau Nordic Ski Club (WNSC), who thought it was an excellent idea,” Tuley said.

A portion of the event proceeds will go to CWOCC and WNSC to help continuing efforts in maintaining and improving area trails.

This unique event is a perfect fit for Wausau with CWOCC’s top notch trails at Nine Mile County Forest plus ski trails that already host Wisconsin’s oldest continuing organized ski races, the Snekkevik Classic, and Badger State Games.

Biking is not allowed at Nine Mile County Forest from Oct. 15 to May 1, so Tuley and Burke approached the Wausau and Marathon County Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department and asked them to consider an exception for this event. The exception was approved unanimously by the Citizens’ Advisory Board and, after further approval by the County Forestry and Recreation Committee, planning commenced for this exciting event.

Since many winter enthusiasts are not proficient in all three disciplines, two and three person relay options are available.  Relay divisions include opportunities for families, friends and co-workers to team up to be a part of this unique adventure.  Onsite ski and snowshoe rentals are available on a first come, first served basis as well.

Racers snowshoe on CWOCC’s maintained singletrack trails. (Contributed photo)

CWOCC is hosting a self-guided 10k moonlight snowshoe hike open to the public on Sat. Jan. 25, 2020.  Racers may choose to snowshoe this loop to scout out the bike portion of the course as biking is not allowed at Nine Mile County Forest other than during the triathlon. CWOCC maintains and grooms several other area trails for fat tire biking. Those trails and trail conditions can be found at

The Jan. 26, 2020 Winter Triathlon will also be part of Badger State Winter Games, resulting in a weekend of events for Badger State Games held at Nine Mile County Forest.  Skiers from around the Midwest will come to Wausau to compete in the 31st annual Badger State Winter Games on Jan. 25, 2020.

There are even more winter festivities in Wausau that weekend, with Wausau Events’ Brew Fest in downtown Wausau on Friday, January 24, 2020 followed by Winter Fest on Saturday, January 25, 2020 on the 400 Block.

So whether you plan to race, participate for fun, volunteer or spectate, there’s plenty to do the entire weekend in Wausau.

More information is available at:

Top photo: Racers can compete the Winter Triathlon as an individual or as a 2- or 3- person relay team. The IRONBULL team organizing the event includes (from left) Race Director Rebecca Tuley, President Tim Buchholz and Executive Director Andrea Larson. (Contributed photo)