I wish I learned how to swim when I was a kid.

I took lessons, I even earned some of those little coloured badges that my Mom sewed on my Incredible Hulk speedos, but they were mostly earned for “not drowning” – doggy paddling, treading water, floating on my back and stuff — all things that are actually of no benefit at all when it comes to doing a triathlon … and later in life, I really wanted to do a triathlon.

For the most part, I could run and ride a bike without fear of calamity, but the swim was an entirely different level of panic-inducing fear. I started going to the pool regularly, thrashing around, gasping and floundering while others who had learned to front crawl as kids glided smoothly past me in the next lane … over and over again.

Years, and a dozen or so tri’s of various distances later, I still get knots in my stomach when I stand at the edge of the pool contemplating my futility.

The good news is, I am not alone: “I’d love to do a tri, but the swimming freaks me out” is a familiar refrain among the running and riding crowds. Well, fear not, my Power gel-sucking spandex-clad comrades! TheDry Tri was created for you.

It was conceived in the summer of 2006 during the long drive from Whitehorse to Fairbanks where my heterosexual life mate (AKA Liz) would race in theSourdough Half Ironman (it’s a classic – put it on your list).

We were reflecting on some of the best things about the various running, riding and paddling events we found ourselves signing up for ever since we moved to the Yukon and discovered that the only thing Yukoners like better than running, riding and paddling is racing each other at them (often over ludicrous distances – I’m looking at you River Quest).

From 24 Hours of Light to the Long Lake Triathlon toKCIBR to the Yukon River Trail Marathon … every event develops its own unique charm.

But what if we created an event that combined a bunch of our favourite things? And we started spitballin’…

It would probably take place on trails. It would be challenging enough so people felt a sense of accomplishment, but not so hard that people would be scared off.

It would cater equally to the “hammerheads” and those who just wanted to enjoy the trip.

It would have a laid-back atmosphere and an environmental ethos. It would have a sweet soundtrack. There would be a killer meal when you’re done. It would involve mountain biking and running “… but no swimming!” Liz insisted. “Yeah, right” I replied, “It would be a triathlon where you didn’t have to get wet.”

Ding! (cue the chimes)

One year later, with a lot of help from our great friends Monika and Joel and a few local sponsors that we love, love, love (Icycle Sport! Bean North! Yukon Brewing! The Deli!) the Dry Tri: Triathlon for Non-Swimmers was born.

It has been a trip, giving birth to this event. I have a renewed appreciation for all of the hard, usually volunteer, work that goes into organizing our various beloved Yukon sporting events.

But this I have learned, for certain: No matter how much planning, energy and passion goes into an event, ultimately it’s the people who show up that makes it what it is.

We are consistently stoked with the fun, laid-back and certifiably rad folks who show-up every year for the Dry Tri (including some who have supported it since the beginning).

People seem to like it, but I’ll have to take their word for it: I’ve never raced the thing.

I get too much of a kick out of being the guy at the finish line with a cold beverage in my hand, feeling lucky I live where I do.

The Dry Tri takes place Saturday, July 10. It involves running 4K, mountain biking 14K and then running another 8K on the trails around the Takhini Hot Springs. Race as a team or an individual. Pick up registration forms at Icycle Sport.

For more info call 668-4699 or email drytri@yahoo.ca.