One of the most unique relay teams in the June 4 Yosemite Bass Lake Triathlon, Team Walker, is made up of a husband-wife-son team of Mark, Sarah, and Kaden Walker.
Mark and Sarah (Cilchrist), 37, are 1997 graduates of Yosemite High School now living on Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento with their four children Kaden, 13, Addie, 10, Asher, 7, and Faith, 2.
It was Kaden’s winning effort in last fall’s youth My Tri Triathlon at Miller’s Landing Resort that is bringing the family back to Bass Lake.
In addition to his first place medal in the My Tri, Kaden was given a complimentary entry in the Yosemite Bass Lake Triathlon. Realizing the Sprint race (400 meter swim, 20K bike, 5K run), would be too grueling for the 13-year-old, race officials offered a ‘relay’ entry. Enter mom and dad.
Mark, a Master Sergeant in the Air Force, said he has been looking for a way to connect with his son Kaden, and he and his wife love the opportunity to do an event like the triathlon as a family.
“The race is one of the last things we’ll get to do as a family before I deploy to the Middle East near the end of summer,” Mark said.
Kaden has participated in the youth My Tri Triathlon at the lake twice. Two years ago he placed fourth in his age group. Last year he was determined to get a medal.
“Kaden didn’t want to do the whole Sprint race my himself on June 4, and was ready to not participate in the event, but Sarah and I asked if he would be willing to do it as a family in the relay race and he said yes.”
The sport is not new to mom and dad. Mark and Sarah did a 1/2 Ironman (1.1 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) as a relay with a co-worker about six years ago in Lake Stevens, Washington. In that race Sarah swam, Mark’s co-worker rode the bike, and Mark ran.
At Bass Lake, Sarah will again hit the water, Mark will do the pedaling, and Kaden will run to the finish line, where mom and dad will be waiting with open arms.
In preparation for the big day, Sarah has been going to the gym two to three times a week to train for the swim. Mark has been riding his bike to and from work most days, and tries to get in longer rides on weekends.
Kaden is on his school’s track team and runs the two mile.
“The 5K is going to be a bit much for Kaden, but I think he will be up to the challenge,” Mark said.
Mark’s parents, Dan and Sally Walker of Oakhurst, are excited about the race.
“We are excited any time that Mark and his family come back to Oakhurst for a visit, whether it is for Christmas, Easter or a Triathlon,” Sally said. “The weekend of the Triathlon could be the last time we see Mark before his deployment to the Middle East. Thankfully, Sarah and the kids will still be relatively close by at Travis AFB.”
500 athletes will compete June 4
An estimated 500 athletes are expected to participate in the event that features individuals and three-person relay teams in two separate triathlon races - Olympic (1500 meter swim, 40K bike, 5K run) and Sprint (500 meter swim, 20K bike, 5K run).
In addition to the triathlon races, a 5K Poker & Go Fish Run/Walk will benefit the Yosemite High School Scholarship Fund and athletic programs as well as other area youth programs.
The event includes a pre-race dinner on the gazebo deck at Ducey’s on the Lake June 3, and an awards barbecue lunch provided by the Bass Lake Lions Club after the race.
Traffic control on race day
Motorists are advised that for the safety of event participants, driving on North Shore Road (Road 274) and Road 222 at Bass Lake will be restricted on Saturday, June 4.
One-way traffic controls will be instituted from West to North Shore starting at 7 a.m., and lasting until 1 p.m. No roads will be closed during the race, but drivers and those staying in area cabins are asked to prepare for the busy event and remain safe.
Traffic delays will be expected for those getting into Pines Village from the Road 274 entrance, starting at 5 a.m. and lasting until noon.
Volunteers are sought to help with traffic controls and other activities.