Get those running shoes ready! The fifth annual Sampson County Super Sprint Triathlon is just around the corner.
As of yesterday, over 110 people had already signed up for this year’s race to be held Saturday, March 29, starting at 9 a.m. at The Center for Health + Wellness, 417 E. Johnson St., Clinton.
The event, still a couple of weeks away, has attracted people not only from cities and towns in Sampson County but also from places including Dunn, Fayettville, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Wilmington — even as far away as Myrtle Beach, S.C. and Meherrin, Va.
All ages are getting in on the action too, taking advantage of the “beginner friendly triathlon;” currently, the youngest participant is 11 and the oldest 59.
And there’s still time for more to register, stressed Amanda Bradshaw, 4-H Youth Development agent with the Sampson County Cooperative Extension who is chairing this year’s triathlon planning committee.
Between now and Wednesday, March 26, interested persons can register for the triathlon online at fsseries.com; individuals for $50 and relay teams (two or three people) for $100. After next Wednesday, individuals will pay $60 and relay teams $110 to register. March 26 is also the last day to register online; however, on-site registration will then be available including the morning of the race.
Last year, somewhere between 220-230 people participated in the race, noted Bradshaw, adding on Monday that the triathlon planning committee expects to have yet another year with similarly impressive numbers.
“This race is part of a series and we’re really the first one of the year,” she pointed out, explaining that many regular triathletes will likely watch the weather and wait until the week — even the day — before to register.
Dr. Tommy Newton, co-chair of the race committee, also noted on Monday during a final planning meeting that he wouldn’t be surprised if some 40 more people signed up in the coming days.
Those who do sign up, lace up, and show up will compete in a 250-yard pool swim, a 7-mile bike ride around Clinton’s industrial park, and a 2-mile walk/run, traveling last year’s same, revamped course.
“It’s a big loop, mainly through downtown, with all right turns,” described Robin Palmer last year of the then new and improved course. “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.”
Triathletes won’t be the only ones turning out for the weekend event though. “So far, not even counting those from Tarheel ChalleNGe, we’ve got 58 volunteers,” said Bradshaw, mentioning that if others are interested in volunteering, there is still time for that too.
“Volunteers are always a need. Even if it’s people just coming out and cheering,” she said. “They (the race participants) need that motivation.”
Just like the triathletes, volunteers need to sign up to serve online at fsseries.com. A meet and greet for volunteers is scheduled for Friday, March 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Wellness Center where t-shirts and race day responsibilities can be picked up.
Also on the night before the race, from 5-7 p.m., triathletes can come to the Wellness Center, pick up their race packet, and even look over the course in preparation for the next day’s challenge.
“A lot do that,” Bradshaw noted. “Some will even bring their bikes and go ahead and ride it to judge distance and how much time they’re looking at.”
In addition to the triathlon being a fun event for the community and one that promotes health as well as brings attention to Sampson and all it has to offer, it’s also an important fundraiser for local organizations and projects. Last year, the race brought in around $9,000 after expenses, dollars that went to support Fitness Renaissance and Sampson’s 4-H program. This year, funds from the race will be distributed a little differently with 65 percent benefiting Fitness Renaissance; 25 percent, Sampson County 4-H; and 10 percent, Clinton’s downtown revitalization.
“It’s just such a great day,” said Bradshaw back in February when planning for the triathlon was picking up speed. “It’s a very motivational and humbling event. You just feed off the people’s energy and it makes you want to be healthier. I always come away from it so proud and motivated. It’s contagious; it’s hard not to want to do it.”
“We’re excited about a good turnout and are looking forward to beautiful weather and a day full of community events in Clinton,” she added yesterday, referring to the car show — which will include motorcycles and tractors too — that will be held in downtown Clinton from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. the same day. “It will be a day of good family fun.”
To register online and to receive more information about Sampson County’s Super Sprint Triathlon, please visit http://fsseries.com/index.php?action=event&event_id=164.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.