Chief among those is that the entry fees for the competitors involved generates a large chunk of funding for many programs which benefit youth in the community run by the Warsaw Breakfast Optimist Club, sponsors of the triathlon.
“This event supplies a lot of revenue,” said race director Ron Donkers. “All of the proceeds go to running the kids’ programs we sponsor.”
The 19th annual Triathlon is slated to begin at 8 a.m. Saturday at the Winona Lake Park. Competitors will take part in a 1/4 mile swim, followed by a 13.8 mile bike ride and then a 3.52 mile run.
Donkers said Wednesday that over 500 triathletes, ranging in age from 14-82, have already registered for the event. Persons can compete as individuals or as part of a team of three.
“Most of the competitors are from Indiana, Michigan, Illinois or Ohio,” Donkers said. “But, we also have a lot of people who were originally from this area who come back to participate in it or people who went to school at Grace College.”
“They do it because it’s part of their lifestyle. It’s for their own personal glory because we do not give out any prize money.”
The event is a good one for first time triathletes as well as serious competitors. It’s a sanctioned USA Triathlon event and one on the Mideast Triathlon Club Race series. It serves as the 2012 Best of the U.S. Indiana State Qualifier and the fastest male and female finisher Saturday will advance to the Best of the U.S. National Championship later this summer.
For those who have never seen a triathlon, Donkers says to come out Saturday morning. The top finishers should take just over an hour to finish the grueling event.
“With three events (swimming, biking and running), there’s always something going on,” said Donkers of the triathlon.
A pre-race clinic for competitors will be held Friday at 7 p.m. at Winona Lake Park. The informational session will be conducted by Scott Erba, winner of the 2003 Optimist Triathlon and the girls cross country and track coach at WCHS.
For more information on the triathlon, visit www.warsawoptimist.org.