July 27, 2013 10:19:42 PM
Brad and Melissa Atkins are raring to go.
If they were training for the second annual Possum Town Triathlon, the husband and wife likely would be fine-tuning their techniques for each of the three phases of the event. As much as Brad Atkins would love to compete in the event he and his wife helped organize and pull off last year, he knows plenty remains to be done to make sure the next installment of the sprint triathlon at 7 a.m. Aug. 17 goes off just as well as the first one.
"You never know what you're going to run into on race day, but I am optimistic," said Brad Atkins, who will serve as race director with Melissa. "Columbus needs stuff like this. I am excited. I almost wish someone else could do it so I could race, but I enjoy it. Someone has to do it to help it keep growing."
Atkins said this year's USA Triathlon-sponsored race will be nearly the same as last year's event. Competitors of all ages will start at the Columbus Lake at the Lock and Dam off Wilkins Wise Road in Columbus. They will compete in a 66-yard swim, a 17-mile bike ride, and a 3.3-mile run. The event is open to individuals and to relay teams.
A year ago, the inaugural event was a rousing success, with 117 competitors starting and finishing. This year, Brad Atkins said a few changes and additions have been made. The biggest difference from last year is the swimming portion of the triathlon has been moved in an attempt to avoid stumps underwater that some participants encountered. By moving the swimming course, Atkins said the transition area -- where athletes change out of their swimming clothing and get into their cycling gear -- also has been moved. But Atkins said the cycling and running courses remain the same, and can be examined at the race's website: possumtowntriathlon.com.
Registration is $65 for individuals and $120 for relay teams. Registration is available online until 8 a.m. Aug. 16. There is no race-day registration. Interested participants can register from 3-7 p.m. Aug. 16 at the race site when race packets are handed out. Race packets also will be distributed from 5:30-6:45 a.m. the day of the race.
Atkins said additions to the event include the participation of the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau. He said Nancy Carpenter, the CCVB executive director, is excited about the second-annual event and the economic impact it will have on the city. Last year, Atkins said race participants helped fill the Fairfield Inn & Suites, one of the hotels in town, and brought a lot of business to area restaurants and stores. He said he has tried to build on the word of mouth and positive reviews from last year on Facebook and by sending out blast emails through the timing company that worked the event last year.
"I think we're on target," Atkins said. "We're getting everything in place. We have a few new sponsors, so, hopefully, we'll be able to add a few extra nice things to the for the athletes (in their pick-up bags)."
Atkins said the goal is to meet the total of participants from last year. He said he was impressed with the turnout in 2012 and felt most everything went smoothly, even though a thunderstorm delayed the early morning start. He also hopes to duplicate the number of volunteers that assisted the competitors and made the event a huge success.
"We had 50 or so volunteers from Evangel Church, and that was one of the things a lot of the participants commented on is that they had never seen such a small race with so many volunteers," Atkins said. "Those are the kind of things that really make a race."
With added assistance from the CCVB and new sponsors, Atkins said juggling the logistics of a sprint triathlon has been much easier. He hopes the next three weeks lead right into another marketable event for the city.
"It really does bring a lot of business for the restaurants, the hotels, and the other businesses in Columbus," Atkins said. "It gives people a chance to come see our town, and it gives us a chance to show off the city.
"We have a very hospitable town, and it is nice to be a part of this event. Hopefully everything goes smoothly and everybody has a good race and it grows from there."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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