Frequently Asked Questions

 The 2013 Hy-Vee Triathlon Frequently Asked Questions

Updated July 3, 2013

The 7th annual Hy-Vee Triathlon will take place Sunday, September 1, 2013 at Gray’s Lake near downtown Des Moines. Below are answers to some of the most common questions we hear regarding the event. If you have a question you don’t see addressed here, email Ruth Comer at and we’ll get you an answer!

Q: What is the Hy-Vee Triathlon?
A: The Hy-Vee Triathlon is one of the world’s premier events for professional and amateur (or “age-group”) triathletes. Since 2011, the Hy-Vee Triathlon has been host to the 5150 U.S. Championship, sponsored by World Triathlon Corporation.

Q: What’s a 5150?
A: The number 5150 (pronounced “fifty-one fifty”) refers to the total kilometers in an international distance triathlon – a 1.5 kilometer swim, a 40-kilometer bike ride and a 10-kilometer run, for a total of 51.5 kilometers. This is the distance of the Olympic triathlon and many other races held in the United States and throughout the world.

Q: What is the 5150 Series?
A: WTC created the 5150 Triathlon Series as a complement to its Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events. The 5150 Series is the largest international distance triathlon series in the world and the first non-drafting international race series of its kind, offering a competitive platform for professional and age-group athletes alike. There are nine U.S. events and nine international races serving as qualifiers for the 2013 Hy-Vee 5150 U.S. Championship on September 1 in Des Moines.

Q: What’s the difference between a 5150 and an Ironman triathlon?
A: Distance. The Hy-Vee Triathlon is a USA Triathlon-sanctioned 5150 race – a 1.5k swim, 40k bike ride and 10k run. This is also referred to as Olympic or international distance. An Ironman triathlon is an ultra-distance endurance race, consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run, for a total distance of 140.6 miles. An Ironman 70.3 race covers half those distances on the swim, bike and run, or a total of 70.3 miles. WTC owns the Ironman, Ironman 70.3 and 5150 brands and operates races at all those distances. There is also a shorter version of a triathlon called a sprint; distances vary, but generally a sprint triathlon is about half the distance of a 5150 – a 750-meter swim, a 20k bike ride and a 5k run.

Q: How has the Hy-Vee Triathlon changed for 2013?

A: For 2013, we’ve consolidated the event into one venue and one race, creating what we believe will be the most exciting, fast-paced, fan-friendly Hy-Vee Triathlon to date. Elite professionals will take to the water at Gray’s Lake starting at 6:45 a.m., followed by the U.S. Championship waves and then the Hy-Vee Triathlon participants. All athletes, professionals and amateurs alike, will race the same course and start and finish in the same place – beautiful Gray’s Lake, one of the city’s most popular attractions.

Q: I’m not a champion triathlete – I’ve never even competed in a triathlon before! Can I still enter the Hy-Vee Triathlon?

A: Absolutely! The Hy-Vee Triathlon Age Group event is open to everyone, experienced triathletes and first-timers alike, just as it’s been for the last six years. You can register as an individual or as a member of a relay team. Go to and click on the “Register” link on the homepage for details.

Q: So who will be taking part in the U.S. Championship?

Athletes who have qualified for the event by placing in the Top 15 in their age groups at a previous 5150 event. They’re competing for national titles as well as thousands of dollars in prizes.

Q: Is there a separate Elite Cup race for the professionals this year?
In 2013 the Hy-Vee 5150 Elite Cup will kick off the action at Gray’s Lake, with 60 of the world’s top triathletes (30 men and 30 women) competing over the same course the age group athletes will be racing. 

Q: I don’t swim, but I’d like to participate in the Hy-Vee Triathlon as part of a relay team. Is there a way for me to join a team or find others interested in forming a team?
A: Competing as a member of a relay team is a great introduction to the sport of triathlon. We even have a tool you can use to find teammates whose goals and experiences match yours –, the first social networking site for triathlon relay teams. Visit the site, create a profile, and you can start a team (as a Team Captain) or browse the list of teams looking for members until you find your match.

Q: Can a team have two people on it?

A: Yes, a team can consist of two or three people; and can be all male, all female or co-ed.

Q: How much does it cost to participate in the Hy-Vee Triathlon?
A: We know triathlon can be an expensive sport, and we work hard to keep our registration fees as low as possible. Through July 31, registration is only $99 for individuals and $150 for relay teams. On August 1 the price goes up to $119 for individuals and $180 for teams, so don’t delay – get registered today at Your entry fee includes an array of Hy-Vee Triathlon merchandise and a fabulous goodie bag from our sponsors.

Q: What’s the course like?
A: Swimmers start from the beach on the north side of Gray’s Lake. They exit the water on the south side of the lake and enter transition. From there, the bike course takes them out of Gray’s Lake, through nearby Water Works Park, down Southwest 63rd Street/Highway 28 and east to the turnaround point on Army Post Road near Fleur Drive, just south of the Des Moines International Airport. The run course takes athletes on a path along the Des Moines River to a downtown turnaround spot south of the State Capitol, then back to Gray’s Lake for the finish. It’s a great spectator course with terrific views of Des Moines. You can find course maps here.

Q: How many volunteers does it take to put on the Hy-Vee Triathlon?

A: We need an estimated 1,500 to 1,700 volunteers to stage a world-class event like the Hy-Vee Triathlon. Volunteers can sign up now for shifts starting Tuesday, August 27th and running through race day. There are jobs for people of all ability levels – some involve physical work such as setting up barricades and fencing, others do not. Check out the Volunteer section of the website for job descriptions, and register early for the best selection of assignments and shifts.

Q: I’m planning to travel to Des Moines for the triathlon. Where can I stay, and what else is there to do while I’m in town?
A: Travel and lodging information is available here. Be advised that the hotels typically fill up fast, so it’s best to book as soon as your plans are firm. To learn more about our beautiful city, visit the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau website at

Q: Are there other events planned for athletes and spectators in conjunction with the Hy-Vee Triathlon?
A: Again this year, we’ll kick off Championship Weekend with a free downtown concert. (Stay tuned for an announcement about this year’s headline act!) Saturday’s activities include the Hy-Vee IronKids U.S. Championship at Gray’s Lake, along with packet pickup, the Hy-Vee Triathlon Expo and bike check-in at Gray’s Lake. On Sunday – race day! – we’ll have concessions and some activities set up at Gray’s Lake for spectators.

Q: I’ve registered for the race, but now I’m injured and won’t be able to compete. Will I be able to get a refund?
A: Sorry to hear about your injury, although refunds are not available please send your deferral inquiries to the correct person below:

If you registered for the Hy-Vee Triathlon –contact
If you’ve registered for the 5150 US Championships –contact

Additional questions about the Hy-Vee Triathlon? Use the Contact form to email us, and stay tuned for frequent updates.


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