Triathlon runs Saturday

Published 1:30 am Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cyclists wheel through a leg of last year’s triathlon in Washington Park. (Contributed Photo/Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce)

Some 350 to 400 triathletes will flood Washington this weekend for two events.

The Washington Sprint and Olympic triathlons begin at 7 a.m. Saturday on the Washington Park waterfront.

The Olympic triathlon is a 1,500-meter, open-water swim in the Pamlico River, followed by a 23.5-mile bike ride and a 6.2-mile run.

The sprint triathlon is a 750-meter, open-water swim in the river, followed by a 15-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run.

The triathlons should be over by 11 a.m.

The timed races are organized by the FS (Finish Strong) Series in conjunction with the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce.

Spectators are asked to park on the north side of River Road or at Haven’s Gardens for a short walk to the starting line.

The chamber has enlisted around 40 volunteers and the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office to help participants, who will run from Washington Park to downtown Washington and back.

The roster of runners was nearly full as of Tuesday afternoon, said Catherine Glover, executive director of the chamber.

Taking part in the events will be local residents and other people from seven states, Glover said.

“They come in from all over to compete,” she said. “They love the atmosphere, and they love Washington Park because it’s one of the prettiest places that they put on the triathlon.”

According to the FS Series website, “FS Series is an event production and timing company based in Raleigh/Cary, NC. We held our first multi-sport event in April of 2007 and have grown to over 60 events in just 4 short years.”

Robin Clarke and her husband Jim have taken part in the races in past years and will run again Saturday in the Olympic race.

“Anybody can do it, and you don’t have to be a super athlete,” she said.

Clarke is the evening manager of Fitness Unlimited, a gym located in Washington.

She agreed the couple’s training is “a lot of hard work.”

“We’ve trained like four to five days out of the week, a lot of times six, mixing it up with running, biking and swimming,” she said.

Liane Harsh is the owner of Inner Banks Outfitters in Washington. Her staff volunteers to watch out for the swimmers, with that staff using kayaks (often rented by visitors to the area) to accompany the swimmers.

“It’s just kind of a community service thing that people in my shop volunteer to do,” Harsh said.

She took part in the sprint triathlon last summer.

“It’s pretty cool,” Harsh said. “It’s a very well-run event.”

Saturday’s happening is one in a series of races staged in Washington.

Last year’s triathlon brought an estimated $41,514 into the community, Glover related. This money was spent at hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other locations, according to an economic-impact summary released by Glover.

For more information, call the chamber at 252-946-9168.