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<p>For some city residents, the weather has just gotten nice enough to get outdoors. But for area athletes, training was already well underway as they kick off the area's multi-sport race season this weekend.</p>

 

For some city residents, the weather has just gotten nice enough to get outdoors.

 

But for area athletes, training was already well underway as they kick off the area's multi-sport race season this weekend.

 

In its 12th year, the Early Bird Triathlon and Duathlon is both an early-season warmup for avid participants and a first-time event for beginners, event organizers said.

 

Races include the sprint and long triathlons, the sprint and long duathlons, as well as a swim-cycle event and the Dr.Freedhoff Try-a-Tri Challenge for beginners who are interested in doing a short triathlon.

Race director Eric Collard said that although a triathlon may seem intimidating to first-timers, the Early Bird is as much a learning experience as it is a competition.

"On race day, the seasoned participants and volunteers are always willing to give as much instruction and pointers to the newcomers as they can," he said.

"I've done everything from spring triathlons to the Ironman, and sometimes you can get jaded, but seeing first-timers cross the finish line smiling as if they've just won Olympic Gold -- well, that's the best part of the event."

Close to 1,000 participants are slated to cross the finish lines in the event's 10 different races.

Races begin Saturday morning at the Carleton University campus. Colonel By Drive will be closed from Pretoria Bridge to Hogsback Road from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. in order to provide a safe course for participants and volunteers.

 
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