Now in its second year, the Chilkat Challenge Triathlon is a “celebration of this river and what it means to Haines,” says event organizer Gershon Cohen. (Gene Cornelius photo)

For anyone who’s wanted to attempt a triathlon, but who wasn’t keen on swimming, there is an event for you in Southeast Alaska happening on July 1.

The second annual Chilkat Challenge Triathlon has a water section — for paddlers of canoes or kayaks, or even stand-up paddle boards.

Haines resident Gershon Cohen coordinates the event.

The Chilkat Challenge Triathlon is somewhat unique nowadays in terms of triathlons: It’s a paddle-bike-run. Instead of swim, folks will get into the water at Mosquito Lake about 30 miles north of Haines, they’ll paddle across the lake, through a slough, into the Chilkat River for about an 8-mile paddle. They’ll get out of their boats at Klukwan and ride about 22-miles into town. They’ll finish the bicycle ride at Ft. Seward, at the parade grounds, and then they’ll run about 9-and-a-half miles to Chilkat State Park.

Like Sitka’s Julie Hughes Triathlon, participants can compete individually, or in teams of two or three — even using a double kayak or canoe if they wish.

Cohen says the event takes care of logistics, like the transporting of gear to the transition areas, but does not supply boats.

Although the Chilkat Challenge started small last year, with mostly Haines residents, Cohen says the word is out on the event. He anticipates 50-60 boats in the water this year, and around 100 participants — from all over the map.

We’ve got people coming from Vermont, South Carolina, all over Anchorage and the Mat-Su, and throughout Southeast. We have people coming from Seattle as well. So the word is definitely getting out. Almost everyone who was in the race last year is signed up again, and they’re bringing friends and telling other people. We’ve had it advertised out on websites for triathlon groups, cycling groups, etc.

The entry fee is $75, and includes an after-party in Haines. Cohen says the Chilkat Challenge Triathlon is more of an “awareness raiser” than a fundraiser.

We just wanted to do something that celebrates this river, and what it means to the community of Haines. The race is hosted by Alaska Clean Water Advocacy, which works to keep rivers healthy and productive across the state. But it’s not really a fundraiser, as much as it is a way to raise consciousness and awareness about what these rivers mean to us and why it’s important to keep them healthy and clean.

There is a mandatory pre-race meeting for all competitors on June 30 the evening before race day, which is on Sunday, July 1.

The Chilkat Challenge Triathlon is not to be confused with the Kluane-Chilkat International Bike Relay, which takes place on June 16, and has about 1,300 riders. Cohen doesn’t rule out the possibility that someone might want to do both, however. “It would be a long layover between the two events,” he says, “but we’d love to have you.”