Adventurous athletes, weekend warriors, and aspiring couch potatoes seeking an excuse to stop vegetating might want to start training for the “Ready, Set, Tri” triathlon.
Event organizers Sarah Dye and Shawna Johnson, both of Marion, confirmed the triathlon is tentatively planned for Aug. 27 at the Marion County Park and Lake.
Neither has ever organized a triathlon before; however, Dye said they were inspired to plan one after recently competing in a Wichita triathlon.
“I don’t know if it’s the word ‘triathlon’ when you say it or what, but when you tell people that you did one most are like ‘wow, I don’t know if I could do that,’” Dye said. “We’re not super athletes or anything. There was just nothing stopping us from doing it, so we thought ‘Why not?”
Johnson said there has been enthusiasm among community members about the event. She believes the community is ready for a triathlon.
“After we did the one in Wichita, we thought Marion is the perfect place for a triathlon, we have this beautiful lake,” Johnson said. “You can swim, bike and run all in one place, and I see people out exercising all the time. We want to help support that healthy lifestyle.”
Ready Set Tri will start with participants running into the water at the boat entry area just east of the dam at the lake.
Participants should expect to swim about 500 meters before setting foot on dry land again when they emerge on the beach at the swimming area. Triathletes will put on shoes, and mount bicycles in the transition area at the top of the hill near the lake office.
If all goes according to plan, cyclists will race approximately eight miles in the second stage, from the lake office to downtown Marion and back.
A five-kilometer run around the lake will be the final stage.
The top three men, women, and teams will each receive medals, Johnson said.
There will be water stations along the entire course, and they plan to offer a simple, healthy snack after the triathlon.
Dye said there would be at least two canoes, each with one lifeguard and one EMS official onboard, monitoring swimmers. Johnson said there would also be a pontoon boat on the water in case anyone gets too tired to finish the swimming portion.
Law enforcement has been enlisted to direct traffic along the course. Dye and Johnson are pursuing sponsors, too.
The race is for anyone 18 and older. Dye and Johnson both plan to compete, too.
“So far, everybody has just been so supportive of it,” Johnson said. “It’s something you can train for that is competitive but still fun. I personally get bored with long distance running. A triathlon breaks up that monotony and adds a challenging aspect of training for three sports.”
All proceeds from the event will go to the “Can Be Healthy Marion” committee, which is a relatively new five-person group Johnson and Dye are on.
“Our hope is to find somewhere, some way, to get a running and biking trail in Marion with workout stations along it,” Dye said. “A trail would be a big thing for Marion. I think it is something we need here. I’ve almost been hit by cars when I was running and biking, and I was wearing bright clothes.”
Johnson said the committee wants to make Marion a safer more fun place to exercise. They plan to use funds to put on other exercise events like an inflatable obstacle course, a mud run, and more triathlons.
“Even if you don’t think you can do a triathlon there is no harm in trying,” Johnson said. “There’s plenty of time to train.
“Someone told me ‘No matter how little exercise you do or how slow you go you’re still running laps around the person who just sits on the couch.’”
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