SACRAMENTO — After 45 years, today marks the last Eppie’s Great Race. Often referred to as “the world’s oldest triathlon,” Participation in the race, which started in 1974, has dwindled in recent years.
However, this year brought more than double the number of racers from last year.
“It has been a tradition, the highlight of our summer,” said racer Carlos Cesillas.
Another racer, June Ijana said, “it’s been a part of the Sacramento community, it’s just really an institution here.”
Eppie’s Great Race was an event everyone who participated loved.
“It’s such a huge community iconic event, you know it gets people out running, paddling, biking all of that. It always has,” expressed racer Dan Crandall.
But now it’s a triathlon no one will ever do again.
“I’m sad to see it go,” racer Nick Walker stated.
The last few years, the number of racers dropped. Organizers needed around 1,600 people to race.
But in 2017, barely a thousand people came out.
“Eppie Johnson would not have wanted this event to sort of fizzle out,” said Will Kepmton, with Eppie’s Wellness Foundation.
So, the family of the race’s founder and namesake Eppie Johnson, decided to go out with a bang; holding one last big race.
Organizers say that Saturday around 2,100 people came out to run, peddle and paddle one last time.
“Today is much more like what it used to be 30 years ago. The number of people, the spirit, you know just everybody really being into it. A party atmosphere,” said Crandall.
For Crandall, the race will hurt his kayaking school current adventures because he says Eppie’s was the only triathlon in California which had kayaking instead of swimming.
“it’s an effect on the entire sport in this region,” Crandall said.
A big reason he hopes someone else will re-boot the triathlon.
“Everyone that’s ever done it hopes that that will happen,” said Crandall.
But Ijana feels it’s run its course.
“There’s such a character to Eppie’s, I wouldn’t want to see someone come in and try to take Eppie’s and make it into something different,” said Ijana.
Either way, Eppie’s name, along with his wife’s will now forever be associated with the American River Parkway.
The county dedicating a grove at River Bend park to them with a plaque.
“And it’s a fitting tribute to those two folks and all the time and effort and support they put in,” said Kepmton.
Crandall added, “I got to thank Eppie Johnson for what he thought of, what he created and all the incredible fun that we have had doing this races year after year.”
Eppie’s name will still be associated with a kids duathlon, which will happened September 30that Discovery Park.