1. What is the Rotary Multi-Sport RiverFest?

The Rotary Multi-sport RiverFest is a community service event provided by the Rotary Club of Salem and the Rotary Club of South Salem to residents and visitors of Salem, Oregon. The events include:

  • Olympic distance triathlon (individual and team entrants)
  • Olympic distance duathlon(bike + run only; individual and team entrants)
  • Sprint distance triathlon (individual and team entrants)
  • Sprint distance duathlon (individual and team entrants)
  • Half marathon
  • 5K run/walk and 10K run
  • Salem Health Kid’s Run (“Over the Bridge and Around the World”)
  • Food, drinks, and exhibits for participants, friends, and all park patrons

2. When will the Rotary Multi-sport RiverFest be held?

The events will be conducted on Sunday, September 23, 2018, beginning at 7:45 a.m.

3. Where will the events take place?

All events (except the duathlon) start and finish in Salem’s Riverfront Park.

Triathletes will enter the water at the boat dock, swim across the Willamette River Slough to the main channel of the river, then upstream along the east bank, and finally downstream to the boat ramp at Wallace Marine Park. The biking stage of the triathlon and the starting point of the duathlon will be at Wallace Marine Park.

Duathletes will first run a 1-mile course in Wallace Marine Park. All cyclists will leave the park, cross the Union Street Bridge, cycle past downtown Salem, and ride along River Road South before reversing direction at the half-way mark. The cycling event will end at Riverfront Park and athletes will transition to the run. The running event will take participants across the newly constructed Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge and along trails on Minto-Brown Island Park before returning to the finish line at Riverfront Park.

The half marathon will begin with a loop around Riverfront Park, cross over the Union Street pedestrian bridge for a lap around Wallace Marine Park, back into Riverfront Park, and then cross the Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge into Minto Island Park. After traversing the park, runners will return across the bridge to the finish line in Riverfront Park.

All 5K and 10K runners will begin at Riverfront Park, cross the Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge, and complete the same 5K or 10K circuit on Minto-Brown Island Park used for the triathlon and duathlon.

The Salem Health Kid’s Run will start in Riverfront Park, cross over and back on the Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge, and loop around the Eco-Earth Globe before crossing the finish line.

4. How many participants will be involved in the events?

The triathlon and duathlon are limited to the first 400 participants who register. There is no limit on the number of participants in the running events.

5. Is day-of-race registration available?

Yes. Day-of-race registration for all events—including the Salem Health Kid’s Run—will be available prior to the events on Sunday morning. On-site registration will also be provided on Saturday at Riverfront Park. Availability of t-shirts, goody bags may be limited for late registrants.

6. Who is conducting these events?

The Rotary Multi-sport RiverFest is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Salem and the Rotary Club of South Salem. EnMotive NW is providing race management, timing, and event production support. The City of Salem is a co-sponsor and the Willamette Valley Triathlon Club is providing technical support and other assistance. This event is made possible by the generous support of local businesses, corporations, and individuals.

7. How can I find out more information about the events?

Our Official Website:

Link to register for all events:

Link for Volunteer Signup:

Link for Sponsorship Signup

Contact for Vendor Signup:
Matt Bonniksen, mbonniksen@travelsalem.com

Visit us on Facebook:


8. Do you need volunteers?

Yes. The success of this event will depend in large measure on having a sufficient number of volunteers to assist in event staffing. We need volunteers to help with: event set up, traffic control, race management, water safety, information ambassadors, event take down, and site clean-up, to name a few opportunities. Volunteers receive a t-shirt and community service hours. We need about 250 volunteers to assist us with various portions of this event. You can sign up as a volunteer on our website at http://rotaryriverfestsalem.org or by emailing rotaryriverfestsalem@gmail.com.

9. How much does it cost to participate?

If registering before July 31, 2018, the cost for triathletes and duathletes is $95 per individual or $55 per person if registering as a member of a team. The cost for the running events depends on the age of the runner and ranges between $15 and $65 if registering before July 31, 2018. Additional registration information is on our website (see Question 7 above).

Your race fee includes commemorative tech shirt, beautiful Finisher Medal, ChronoTrack™ Timing, awards, and post-race refreshments, plus the opportunity to be part of a great end-of-summer competition. Your entry also includes a measure of personal satisfaction in participating in a community event, the proceeds of which support good works in Salem and around the world.

10. Are there opportunities for businesses to be sponsors of the event?

Yes. There are opportunities for local businesses, corporations, and individuals to support this event. In addition to cash gifts, we are interested in working with businesses who would like to receive credit as a sponsor based on in-kind service contributions. Among the material needs for the event: pre-race snacks and hot/cold drinks; tents, tables, and chairs; portable restrooms; trash and recycling containers; electrolyte and bottled water; ice; printing services; and post-race food and drink.

We have six levels of sponsorships, ranging from $500 (Supporting Sponsor) to $10,000 (Title Sponsor), with ascending measures of recognition. More information for sponsors is available on our website (http://rotaryriverfestsalem.org) or by contacting Whitney Pitalo, Sponsor Chair, at wepitalo@willamette.edu

11. What will happen to proceeds raised from this event?

Funds raised from this event will be used by the Rotary Club of Salem and Rotary Club of South Salem to support local and international projects. Rotary is dedicated to building international relationships, improving lives, and creating a better world. The areas of focus for our work include:

  • Promoting peace
  • Fighting disease
  • Providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene
  • Saving mothers and children
  • Supporting education
  • Growing local economies
  • Ending polio forever

To learn more about the work done by Rotarians around the world, go to https://www.rotary.org/en/our-causes

To see a list of the local organizations we have supported in our community between 2000-2017 along with a map of where they are, go to https://rotaryriverfestsalem.org/event-details#support.


1. How far is the swimming stage of the triathlon?

The swimming stage of the triathlon will be 750 meters (820 yards) for sprint distance triathletes and 1500 meters (1640 yards) for Olympic distance triathletes.

2. How will the swimming course be set up?

Swimmers will enter the water in waves from the Riverfront Park boat dock, swim a triangular course in the slough (Olympic distance) or directly to a buoy at the edge of the main river channel (Sprint distance). The course then turns upstream along the east bank (where the current is slower) to the Olympic or Sprint turnaround buoy, and then diagonally downstream to the boat ramp at Wallace Marine Park.

In the event of rainfall before the event—which may wash contaminants into the slough—a backup course of 750meters will start and finish at the boat ramp in Wallace Marine Park. Swimmers will cross the river toward the east bank, swim upstream along the bank, and then diagonally downstream to the starting point. Sprint distance triathletes will compete one circuit; Olympic distance triathletes will complete two. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1: Swimming Course (dimensions are approximate)

3. How safe is it to swim in the Willamette River?

The City of Salem has been collecting monthly water quality samples in the Willamette River near the site of the swimming event since the mid-1990s. Based on an analysis of data collected between 2001 and 2017, the Willamette River scores 90 out of 100 (Excellent) year-round. These values are determined using a methodology developed by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Known as the Oregon Water Quality Index, the scores provide a summary measure of the overall health of a water body based on temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, bacteria, and other contaminants.

Additionally, to ensure safety for swimmers, the City of Salem will increase its sampling frequency during the period preceding the Rotary Multi-sport RiverFest.

Based on water quality sampling conducted for the 2017 Rotary Triathlon, it is safe to swim in this portion of the Willamette River unless there has been recent rainfall. Stormwater runoff can wash pollutants such as bacteria into Pringle Creek, which is discharged into the Willamette Slough near Riverfront Park boat dock. If it rains within a few days prior to the race, an alternative swimming course will be used that both starts and ends on the opposite side of the river at the Wallace Marine Park Boat Ramp. Water quality sampling conducted near the boat ramp in 2017 indicated that this reach of the Willamette River is safe for swimming regardless of rainfall runoff.

If any condition exists that calls into question the safety of having swimmers in the water—a pollutant spill up river or excessively high river flows, for example—the swimming stage will be canceled and race organizers will transition the triathlon into a duathlon.

4. What is the expected temperature in the Willamette River in October?

Based on an analysis of data collected by the City of Salem, the temperature in the Willamette River on the day of the event is expected to be between 58.6°F and 62.4°F (14.8°C – 16.9°C).

5. What safety measures will be taken during the open water swimming event?

In addition to sampling to verify the water quality of the river (see Question 3 above), additional safety measures include: (1) A trained safety observer on the river; (2) Kayaks ringing the periphery of the  course to provide opportunities for swimmers to rest by holding the bow, stern, or sides; (3) The City of Salem Fire Department’s Swift Water Rescue Team positioned downstream of the course; and (4) An ambulance on standby will be prepositioned at Wallace Marine Park in the vicinity of the boat ramp. To protect the triathletes’ feet, a mat will be placed on the boat ramp.

6. Will the swim start in waves?

Yes. Triathletes will be divided into age groups prior to the start and swimmers will enter the water in waves.

7. Where will T1, the Swim-Bike Transition, be located?

Triathletes will transition from the swim to bike stages at a transition area (T1) located in the parking lot of Wallace Marine Park not far from the boat ramp.


1. How far is the biking stage of the triathlon?

The biking stage of the triathlon will be 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) for sprint distance triathletes/duathletes and 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) for Olympic distance triathletes/duathletes.

2. How is the bike course laid out?

After transitioning from the swim to bikes at T1 (See Question 7 under “The Swimming Event”), riders will exit Wallace Marine Park and cross the Union Street Bridge to the other side of the Willamette River. The course will then take riders past downtown Salem and along River Road South. The sprint distance turn-around point is at the intersection of Brown Island Road and River Road South; Olympic distance riders will change direction at base of the Independence Bridge, just prior to crossing the Willamette River. The bike course will end at Riverfront Park, where riders will transition to the run. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2: Bike Course (triathletes and duathletes)

3. Will any roads be closed to vehicle traffic during the bike event?

One lane of Front Street in front of Riverfront Park, one lane on Commercial Street S between Trade Street and Mission, and both lanes of Owens from Saginaw to River Road will be closed to traffic. Cyclists will share the road with cars on River Road S., but safety observers, flaggers and professional traffic controllers will be present at key intersections and hazard points.

4. What safety measures will be taken during the bike event?

To reduce the number of vehicles on the road, the event has been scheduled for early Sunday morning, a time typically with a low traffic volume. Safety mats will also be placed at points where the bicycle course crosses a rail line. Among others safety measures to provide for a safe route for the biking stage of the event: (1) Traffic barricades, cones, candles, and signs will mark the route and discourage traffic along the course; (2) Where possible, segments of the route will be closed to all vehicular traffic; (3) Volunteers will be placed along the route to provide information to residents, businesses, and spectators; (4) Notices will be distributed well in advance to residents and businesses along the route informing them of the event and encouraging them to avoid using vehicles if possible; (5) Motorcycle-mounted marshals will be contracted to serve as safety observers and to provide on-scene updates to Race Managers; and (6) Professionals will be hired to manage traffic flow at key points along the route.

5. Where will T2, the Bike-Run Transition, be located?

Triathletes and duathletes will transition from the bike to run stages at a transition area (T2) located at Riverfront Park.


1. How far is the running course?

Participants in the running event for the Triathlon or Duathlon will complete a course of either the sprint distance of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) or the Olympic distance of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).

Run-only courses include a half marathon (13.1 miles), 10K (6.1 miles), 5K (3.1 miles) run/walk, and a 1K kid’s run.

2. Is the same course used for both the Triathlon/Duathlon and Runs?

Participants in the 10K run and 5K run/walk will use the same course as the Triathlon/Duathlon, across the Peter Courtney Bridge and into Minto-Brown Island Park. Triathletes and duathletes will transition from the bike to run in Riverfront Park at T2 before running across the bridge. Participants in the 10K and 5K will begin at a start line established at Riverfront Park. The 10K run will begin at 8:00 a.m. and the 5K will begin at 8:15 a.m. Sunday morning, at about the same start time as the swimming event for the triathlon.

3. Are dogs or strollers allowed?

Strollers are allowed in both the Salem Health Kid’s Run and the 5K run/walk. Dogs are allowed only in the 5K run/walk. Participants with dogs will have a delayed start, a few minutes after the other runners. Since the course is chip timed, this won’t affect your total running time.

4. How are the running courses laid out?

All runs start and finish in Riverfront Park. Triathletes and Duathletes will transition from the bike to the run in Riverfront park, cross the Peter Courtney Bridge and enter Minto-Brown Island Park and follow a network of paved trails. After completing the circuit of trails in Minto-Island Park, runners will again cross the Peter Courtney Bridge to the Finish Line at Riverfront Park.

Participants in the 5K run/walk and 10K will follow the same courses as the Triathletes/Duathletes (but not at the same time). Half marathoners will complete a loop around Riverfront Park, cross the Union Street pedestrian bridge for a loop around Wallace Marine Park, back to Riverfront Park, and across the Peter Courtney Bridge into Minto-Brown Island Park before returning to the finish at Riverfront Park.

The 1K Salem Health Kid’s Run will start in Riverfront Park, cross over and back on the Peter Courtney Bridge, and loop around the Eco-Earth Globe on the way to the finish line.

See Figure 3 for a map of the 5K, 10K, and Half Marathon courses:

Figure 3: Running Course


1. What is happening at Riverfront Park?

To complement the triathlon, duathlon, and running events, there will be food and drink vendors and various health and wellness exhibitions at Riverfront Park. Food, drink, and exhibits will be gathered under a large tent adjacent to the Rotary Pavilion, which is also where the awards ceremony will be held.

2. Are the Exhibition Hall and Food Court open to the public?

Absolutely. The Exhibition Hall and Food Court will be open to participants, friends, families, and all park patrons.

3. Who do I contact if I want to be one of the vendors in the Exhibition Hall or Food Court?

Space is being offered to Gold Sponsors ($2,500) and above, who will receive a free 10 X 10 on-site vendor booth with the sponsorship. Vendors interested in displaying or distributing goods at the event but who are not official sponsors will be considered on a case-by-case basis. For additional information regarding an opportunity to be a sponsor, please contact Whitney Pitalo, Sponsor Chair, at wepitalo@willamette.edu.