Adding another the tri

(First published in the July 25, 2019 issue of City Pages)

The owner of a triathlon clothing line and a triathlon organizer from Mexico are bringing a new competition to Wausau.


Juan Antonio Casarrubias and Gina Cornell are creating a new Wausau Triathlon, starting in 2020.

The Woodson YMCA Triathlon on Aug. 3 marks its 40th and final year. Next year the race will transform into an extreme off-road triathlon year under IronBull, a new local organization aimed at promoting Wausau as an outdoor sports mecca.

That means there won’t be a regular triathlon, with its run and bike portions on paved road.

Enter triathlete organizer Juan Antonio Casarrubias and Gina Cornell, a local triathlete clothing line designer (her company is called Venganza).

Casarrubias and Cornell plan to bring a second triathlon to town to replace the YMCA triathlon. And it will be a qualifier for those looking to take their triathlon skills to the next level.

They’re organizing the first Wausau Triathlon for Aug. 23, in 2020. The event will feature an Olympic distance triathlon, which features a swim of .93 miles, a bike of 25 miles and a run of 6.2 miles. There will also be shorter sprint and super sprint courses. The course will start at Oak Island Park and feature festivities on the 400 Block as well. A Sports Expo the day before add to the weekend’s activities.

Like IronBull, Casarrubias knows the importance of sports in tourism, and better than most. Casarrubias lived in the tourist mecca of Cancun, Mexico, until about six months ago when he moved to Wausau to join his wife, who is from the area. Originally from Acapulco, Casarrubias lived in Cancun since 1983 and worked in the hotel industry.

Casarrubias got into triathlons 17 years ago when a friend invited him to join a relay team on the bike portion. He has been hooked ever since, and went on to found events in Puerto Morelos and Cancun. Leaders in those areas realized that events like these become destinations for people, Casarrubias says. He founded Blackout Triathlon, which organized events in seven different Mexican states. Eventually his races became part of the Challenge Family, which holds events all over the world.

Wausau’s triathlon won’t be part of the Challenge Family, at least not initially, Casarrubias says. Cornell met Casarrubias at the YMCA in Wausau, and the two started talking about triathlons. “For the people who are from here, the Woodson triathlon is something dear to them,” Cornell says.

The event will be a USA Triathlon qualifier and is sanctioned by USAT, which means athletes in the top 15% can qualify for regional and national competition. Top finishers in the national event qualify for world competition. That could even lead to the event becoming a regional qualifier in 2021.

That means the set up is pretty strict. The course is meticulously measured to make sure the distances are accurate, for example, Casarrubias says.

But that doesn’t mean recreational athletes should be intimidated. The super sprint has a swim distance of 400 yards, a bike distance of 6.2 miles and a run of 2.5 miles. The sprint courses can cater to everyone from the beginner to the elite-level athlete hoping to eventually work their way up the national rankings. 

Sports and tourism have an important symbiosis, Casarrubias says, and he hopes this event can help demonstrate that. “The idea is to do more than just a triathlon,” Casarrubias says. “We want them to come the day before, spend some time in Wausau, so the whole area benefits. It’s not just come in and leave the same day.”