Saturday, May 9, 2009

Good shirt, great cause, excellent new tri

Thanks to Observer immigration reporter Franco Ordonez -- an avid runner and triathlete -- for contributing this report from the new Jetton Tri at Lake Norman:

A lot of runners, like myself, signed up for Saturday's inaugural Jetton Tri to dust away some of the offseason cobwebs. The 750-meter swim, 20k bike, and 5k run makes for a good tune up for Tri Latta next month. But I could see this race growing into a bigger event that the casual and veteran triathlete will make sure to sign up for.

One of the cool things about young races is the smaller crowd, which makes for a more casual and less-stressful atmosphere. No waiting in line at the Port-o-John worrying about whether you'll make the start gun type of thing.

Jetton Park, on the east side of Lake Norman, is a great woodsy spot for a triathlon. Little beach for the swim start. A lot of racers commented on how nice it was to get out of the pool and back into the open water.

Credit: Clarke Rodgers/

On the rolling bike course, there were plenty of postcard-quality views of the lake.

Credit: Clarke Rodgers/

And the run was good -- though hot -- on Saturday morning.

Credit: Clarke Rodgers/

The heat didn't seem to impact Nick Frank of Charlotte, who won the race in 1 hour, 1 minute and 4 seconds. Ashley Naelon of Davidson was the fastest woman. She finished in 1 hour, 10 minutes and 54 seconds.

Now, about the shirt: Wearing evidence on your back that you completed a race can satisfying, but I have so many white cotton tees from runs and tris that it's ridiculous. So it was a thrill to be handed a navy blue "Dri-Balance" shirt for participating today.

I'm glad some organizers (like Jetton's Sheila Wakeman) are upping the ante by handing out a high-tech running shirt that athletes actually will get some good use out of on training runs. When you're plopping down $80 a race, you remember those small details.

Of course, it's not about the T-shirts. It's about participating in fun healthy event and raising money for a good cause. Wakeman said 450 people raced and helped raise $30,000 for two local charities, the Hope Foundation and Ace and TJ’s Grin Kids, which works with terminally ill kids. That's some good stuff.

"It exceeded our expectations," Wakeman said. "Next year will be even bigger."