Registration Open for SUP & Run Biathlon
Stability, speed, agility and endurance, on the water and sand, will determine the winners of the 5th annual Wrightsville Beach Biathlon when the two sports—SUP and running—converge on Saturday, March 22.
“This race is a good warm-up after a long, cold winter,” said Jarrod Covington, Wrightsville Beach Biathlon Chair and Race Director. “Local paddlers have stayed active in the ocean, especially because of the winter storm waves we have seen recently. But flatwater paddlers are a different beast in the winter months,” Covington said.
With weather conditions improving daily, he predicts biathlon athletes will feel water temperatures ranging from 50-60 degrees F and air temps in the 60s. “The cold water is a motivator to stay up on the board, and spring-like temperatures are excellent for a beach run.”
The four-mile paddle in the channel and waterway combined with the four-mile pier-to-pier beach run are strenuous challenges for rebuilding endurance and training competitively. The first to cross the finish line may come down to the details: water currents and tide charts, SUP and paddle choices, or relay team matchups.
For two consecutive years, Team Bike Cycles of Wilmington, N.C., anchored by marathon runner Matt Whistoff, claimed the relay championship with times of 1:19 in 2013 and 1:13 in 2012.
Covington, himself a two-time individual men’s champ (1:14 in 2013, 1:20 in 2012), said he won’t compete this year, but expects plenty of local contenders: “The Charleston, S.C. crew led by Jeremy Whitted will most likely make a strong appearance.”
Two-time women’s champion, Kimberly Sutton, (1:26 in 2013, 1:34 in 2012) may be returning, Covington said, “but this shouldn’t discourage anyone from coming out and going for the upset.”
Covington and others will lead clinics to be announced during the days leading up to the race and a portion of registration fees will benefit For Masonboro, a nonprofit citizens’ advocacy group that serves to protect Masonboro Island, an estuarine reserve and native habitat for diamondback terrapins and nesting loggerhead sea turtles, among other species.
While this isn’t the first race of the year to be hosted by Wrightsville Beach and the Blockade Runner Beach Resort, the Wrightsville Beach Biathlon is considered the launch of the SUP season in the southeast Atlantic’s regional mecca for clean water sports, followed one month later by the Carolina Cup in April.
“SUP is very much hot and always will be as long as people enjoy exercise and being outside on the water,” Covington said. “The flatwater exercise, marsh exploration and family-friendly adventures will never grow old.”
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