Get your running shoes ready! Sampson County’s Super Sprint Triathlon is just around the corner.
“This is the fourth year we’re doing the triathlon and we’re just so excited. Each year it continues to grow,” says Robin Palmer, programming manager for The Center for Health + Wellness.
This year’s race will be held Saturday, March 23 at 9 a.m. at The Center for Health + Wellness, and now is the time to register. “Registration is all online at www.fsseries.com,” notes Palmer.
And don’t think that only serious tri-athletes can register. “This race is open to everyone. When people hear triathlon, many think they can’t do it, but they really can,” stresses Palmer.
As usual, the race consists of a two-mile walk/run, a five-lap pool swim, and a seven-mile bike ride.
“A lot of people really do walk the two miles, and even though seven miles sounds like quite a bit, it’s not bad when you’re on the bike; it goes quickly,” explains Palmer. “It’s a fun race with doable distances.”
While the divisions and distances are the same, the race course is undergoing some changes this year. “The course is going to be a little different. It’s a big loop, mainly through downtown, with all right turns,” says Palmer. “This new route makes the race a little more interesting and safer. Having all right turns helps make the race more manageable, especially for the police officers who are helping to keep everyone safe.”
Those interested in participating in the triathlon with its revamped course but don’t feel like tackling all three divisions on their own, can always join a team. “One person can do it all or you can participate as a member of a team where one person runs, one person swims, and another person bikes,” explains Palmer. “We have a corporate category, and I know quite a few local businesses get teams together.”
Each year more and more locals seem to be realizing just how accessible the triathlon actually is. “The first year of the triathlon we were amazed at the number of outsiders that came,” recalls Palmer. “But only a few locals participated. Now, though, locals are getting more involved. Last year, we had over 80 locals participate. This year, we’re excited to continue building local interest.”
One group of locals Palmer especially wants to reach is kids. “Last year, we had 25 youth participate and we’re hoping for more this year. We want to put a focus on improving the health of our community, especially our youth,” says Palmer, adding that “the triathlon is great for families.”
“You only have to be 8 years old to participate,” says Palmer. “My family and I have done it together and we always have a blast.”
This desire to help children live a more healthy lifestyle also extends to the charities that the triathlon will help support this year. “The proceeds from the triathlon always go to a local nonprofit,” notes Palmer. “This year one of the charities is Fitness Renaissance which we think makes for a great partnership. We [The Center for Health + Wellness] are, of course, all about promoting a healthy lifestyle, and Fitness Renaissance is all about combating childhood obesity right here in Sampson County.”
“Some of the proceeds will also benefit the Sampson County 4-H,” adds Palmer. “Again, we want to help improve the health of our youth, the health of our future.”
In addition to improving your health and the health of you family, Palmer also feels that the triathlon is a great way to meet new people and see serious tri-athletes in action.
“For the advanced tri-athletes that come and participate, they just love it. It’s a fun race for them. It’s a way for them to train and warm up for bigger races,” says Palmer. “They also love seeing new people, especially people who are just starting to get involved. They like seeing people inspired and motivated.”
Palmer adds that 70 percent of the 270 participants in last year’s triathlon were outsiders. “We’ve had people come from Idaho, Montana, Wisconsin, Georgia, Virginia, South Carolina, and of course, the Raleigh and Wilmington areas. This race is really helping to put us on the map.”
With so much going on and so many people participating, local volunteers are especially needed. “Being a volunteer is just as important as being a participant,” stresses Palmer. “Volunteers do everything from handing out water, giving directions, helping with body marking, passing out t-shirts, to simply being cheerleaders. There’s numerous jobs to share.”
In past years, the Boy Scouts, various school Beta Clubs, and students from Tarheel Challenge have been among the volunteers, according to Palmer.
If you’re interested in volunteering at the triathlon, you can sign up online, just like the race participants.
Overall, Palmer sees that triathlon as an event that is becoming very dear to the community and she’s thankful to be a part of it. “Dr. Tommy Newton and I are co-chairs this year and we’re thrilled. It’s a fun, strong event and has become something for our community to be proud of.”
For more information about the triathlon or to get connected with training groups, please call Robin Palmer at 596-5406.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 123 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.