Local interest and national recognition have bolstered this year's Mitchell Area Community Triathlon.

The fifth annual MAC Triathlon starts at 8 a.m. Saturday and event organizers won't know exact numbers until registration, but 73 had registered by earlier in the week. That's up from around 40 the past two years and local competitors have helped with the increase in numbers.

"I think just awareness in the community has helped," said Emily Hohn, one of the triathlon committee members. "There's a lot of athletes and just runners that want to try something new in our community because we actually have a lot of local competitors that have jumped on board this year."

The USA Triathlon has also jumped on board this year and sanctioned this year's event in Mitchell. The USA Triathlon is comprised of nearly 500,000 members.

"This year we are also a sanctioned race," Hohn said. "We were approached by USA triathlon and asked if we would be the host site for the high school state championships this year. I think that's helped a little bit, too. Because anyone that is registered with USA Triathlon, they can earn ranking points."

Hohn believes this is the first year for a triathlon high school state championship in South Dakota, "but with this being the first year, there weren't a ton of high school triathletes in this state. We haven't had anyone sign up yet."

The event starts at 8 a.m. Saturday with the 500-meter snake swim in the lap pool at the Mitchell Aquatic Center. After the 14-mile bike ride around the east side of Mitchell, the event closes with a 5K run around the north side of Hitchcock Park.

Medals will be awarded to the top-three individuals overall by male, female and co-ed. Triathletes can compete on their own or as teams. Teams for MAC Triathlon may consist of teams of two-to-three people and register as all male, all female and all co-ed.

"It's going to be a big event and the weather looks good," Hohn added. "We are excited and hopefully everything goes smooth."