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Triathlon season gets rolling in the Asheville area

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5/10/2012 - Triathlon season gets rolling in the Asheville area
by Karen Chavez - Asheville Citizen Times

 ASHEVILLE -- Teddy Park thought he might have been all washed up in his early 30s.

 Getting injury after injury pounding the pavement in footraces, the Asheville landscaping business owner took to the bike to get exercise while saving his joints from stress, then began swimming and found there is life after the 5K, and it's called triathlon.

"Triathlon is the next frontier," said Park, 35. "After you've done 5Ks, you say, 'What can I do next? How can I step it up a notch and get to the next level?' Triathlon is really doable. You don't need a superfancy bike or run really fast to have a good time."

Park, who now races for the Hearn's Triathlon Team, races in eight-12 triathlons a year, finding that the sport that involves a swim, a run and a bike ride all in one is less stressful on the body and easier to excel at.

He has won the McDowell Trails Association Lake James Triathlon the past two years in a row and will head back May 19 for a three-peat in the sprint triathlon that unofficially kicks off the spring-summer triathlon season in Western North Carolina.

The race, which all takes place at the new Paddy's Creek area of the park in McDowell and Burke counties, consists of a 750-meter swim in Lake James, an 18-mile road bike on secondary roads around the lake and a 5K trail run in the park.

The sprint triathlon, a fundraiser for the McDowell Trails Association, which works to build and promote blueways and greenways in McDowell County, is the only one in a state park in WNC.

Park plans to take home the first-place prize again but implores other triathletes, whether beginners or elites, to check out the race.

"One of the great things about the race is the bike course," he said.

"It's very beautiful and scenic, and it's longer than traditional sprint distances. The run is on trail, which is very cool, and it's an out-and-back, so you can see everybody on the way back and high-five them. The lake is very warm -- it's perfect."

Park said triathlon is one of the few sporting events where the last person across the line always gets the biggest cheers, which he calls "very inspiring."

Phyllis Davis, the triathlon coordinator, said she is hoping for at least 100 participants.

She said some triathletes might be scared off by an early-season lake swim, but the swim leg takes place in a shallow cove and is deceptively warm for a mountain lake -- expected to be about 70 degrees on race day.

"The Paddy's Creek section of Lake James is gorgeous," she said.

"It's a really beautiful venue. I think it's a good challenge -- our swim and bike are longer than a usual sprint -- and it's also a good place for a beginner triathlete. There is a lot of volunteer support, low traffic on the roads for the bikes, and we'll have door prizes and lots of post-race food."

The Lake James race is just the first of a flurry of triathlons, from off-road to on-road, indoor and outdoor, sprint to Olympic distance events.

Soon on its heels is the returning French Broad Challenge Triathlon May 26 in Asheville as part of the Mountain Sports Festival.

The race consists of a river paddle rather than a swim, making it a true "mountain sport" triathlon, said race director Greg Duff.

He is also directing the indoor MedWest Triathlon in July and the annual Lake Logan sprint and international distance triathlons in August.

They are joined by the return of the Asheville Triathlon on July 22, which starts off with a swim in the East Asheville Recreation Park Pool, and new triathlons including the Mainstay Triathlon in September in Camp Green Cove and the LPC Triathlon in Fletcher in August.

"The triathlons are spread out enough so you're not seeing them every weekend like running races," Duff said.

"They're all different distances, so there's something for everyone."

Daphne Kirkwood is bringing the LPC Triathlon Aug. 19 to the Leila Patterson Center in Fletcher, which she said will be the first triathlon in Henderson County.

The race consists of a 200-yard pool swim, a 17.5-mile bike on country roads through apple orchards and a 5K run ending on soccer fields.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Here are some of the upcoming triathlons:
o McDowell Trails Association Triathlon at Lake James: Starts at 8 a.m. May 19 at Lake James State Park with 750-meter lake swim, 22-mile bike race, and a 5K trail run. Entry fee until May 17 is $65 for individuals, $95 for teams. Register online at www.mtatriathlon. blueridgemultisports. com. Race day is $75 individuals and $105 for teams. One-day USA Triathlon license is $12 for non-USAT members. Email Phyllis Davis, event coordinator, at phyllisd95@morris bb.net.
o French Broad Challenge Triathlon. Starts at 5 p.m. May 26 at Carrier Park, Amboy Road in Asheville. Part of the Mountain Sports Festival, consisting of 1.5-mile run, 2.5-mile river paddle, 11-mile bike, 2.9-mile run. Visit www.gloryhound events.com. Registration is online only at www.IMAthlete. com. Entry fees through May 14 are $55 individual/$75 relay teams; May 15 to race day are $65/$90. USAT membership required. One-day memberships for $12.
o The Beast of the East Half Steelman Triathlon: Starts at 7:30 a.m. May 20 at Clay County Recreation Park, Hayesville. Swim 1.2 miles, bike 53 miles, run 13 miles. Entry fees are $145 individual/$195 relay teams. Visit http://thebeast oftheeast.net.
o Enka Lake Triathlon. Starts at 8 a.m. June 9 at Biltmore Lake Community in Asheville with a 750-meter swim, 17.5-mile bike and a 5K run. Entry fees through May 31 are $55 individual/$90 relay teams, after June 1- $65/$105. USAT membership required. One-day memberships for $12.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Try one of these upcoming triathlons:
o Medwest Haywood Triathlon. Starts at 8 a.m. July 7 at MedWest Health and Fitness Center, 75 Leroy George Drive, Clyde. Starts with 300-yard pool swim, 10-mile bike, 5K run. Visit www.gloryhoundevents. com/medwest-triathlon. Entry through May 31are $50 individual/$75 relay teams, after June 1 are $60/$90. USAT membership required. One-day memberships for $12.
o Asheville Triathlon: Race is July 22 at Asheville Recreation Park with a 400-meter outdoor pool swim, an 11.6-mile bike ride and a 5K road run. Entry fees through June 5 are $55 individual/$85 team, $65/$95 after. Register at www.imathlete.com. Email Daphne Kirkwood at events@idaph.net.
o Lake Logan International Triathlon: Starts at 7 a.m. Aug. 4 at Lake Logan Episcopal Center, Canton, with a 1,500-meter swim, 24-mile bike and 10K run. The 2012 Lake Logan International Triathlon has been designated a Mid Atlantic Region Special Qualifier. Anyone finishing in the top 33 percent of their age group qualifies for the USAT National Championships Aug. 18 in Burlington, Vt. Entry fees through June 30 are $85 individual, $120 relay teams, July 1 through race day are $95/$135. USAT membership required. Visit www.gloryhoundevents.com.
o LPC Triathlon: Henderson County's first triathlon will be Aug. 19 at the Leila Patterson Center in Fletcher with a 200-yard pool swim, a 17.5 mile bike and 5K run. Entry fee through May 15 is $35, May 17-June 15 is $40, June 16-July 31is $45. Team registrations for two- and three-person teams. Register at www.IMAthlete.com. Email events@idaph.net.

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