As summer fades away, many of the trips to Lake Bridgeport for leisurely boating and swimming have ended.
To a select number of athletes, the lake is turning into grounds to test their endurance and will do just that with the return of the Wise Triathlon Sept. 12.
The three-discipline event – swimming, biking and running – will feature two different distances at Wise County Park west of Chico.
The Olympic distance race, featuring a 1,500-meter swim, 24.8-mile bike ride and 10K run, will start at 7 a.m.
The sprint distance race with its 400-meter swim, 12-mile ride and 5K run, will begin an hour later at 8 a.m.
The event is in its second year, and more than 100 athletes have already signed up. The race benefits the Galactosemic Families of the Southern States.
“All the proceeds are going to the Galactosemic group,” said race director Mike Bowers. “It makes all the hard work worthwhile, people coming out to contribute to such a great cause.”
Bowers is hoping to see the event grow each year and make it one of the area’s premiere multi-sport events.
“I talked with a guy in Lubbock, and his first event had 92 people,” he explained. “Now it sells out every year, and it’s the single largest event for the city of Lubbock. That’s what I want to do for Wise County.”
But he doesn’t want to sacrifice quality.
“We’re trying to build it slow and do it right,” he said. “Our real big focus is putting on a good race. Volunteers are the ones that make a great race.”
To entice participants and volunteers, there are several giveaways, including roundtrip passes from Southwest Airlines, bikes and gift cards, along with food and music by the Matt White Band.
Both races will start in Lake Bridgeport with open-water swims, which can be intimidating, especially for first-time triathletes. Bowers tried to limit their anxiety by keeping the swim in shallow water.
“People are scared of open-water swims,” Bowers said. “That’s what makes this a great event for a first timer. We had a guy with a depth finder marking the course, and I said let’s try to keep it in five feet or less. All they have to do is swim toward shore a bit, and they’ll be able to touch.”
Bowers added that there will be kayaks, boats and jet skis in the water along with lifeguards to provide assistance to swimmers.
After the swim, athletes will take off on their bikes. Wise County Sheriff’s deputies will be monitoring roads and intersections to keep bikers safe. The sprint course will take athletes out County Road 1638 and Farm Road 2952. The Olympic course includes portions of FM 1658.
The courses for both runs are contained to roads and trails in the park.
“A lot of it will be a trail run,” Bowers said.
“It’s a really cool event, because it’s not in the city. You’re out in the country.”