If you’ve ever even thought about attempting a triathlon, Ozark hosts the perfect event for you on Sept. 7.
Newcomers are welcome at the Finley River 5 and Tri, a sprint triathlon that offers athletes the chance to get their feet wet in an event that combines swimming, cycling and running.
Well, maybe you’ll get more than your feet wet. The event begins at Grubaugh Park with a 300-meter swim, followed by a 12-mile bicycle ride through scenic country in eastern Ozark, and ends with a 5-kilometer run through downtown.
Keaton Garrett is the race director. He is a student at Drury University working for the Ozark Community Center. Garrett saw some needs: southwest Missouri has a relative shortage of triathlon events, and there are some worthy causes when it comes to conservation. He pitched the idea of starting a triathlon in Ozark.
“I have a triathlon background,” Garrett said. “I raced on the national level and then went to worlds in Canada.”
At Drury, the Rogersville native gained experience competing on the cross country team and with the men’s triathlon club. Drury fields an NCAA Division-II women’s triathlon team, and Garrett noticed his counterparts didn’t have any local events on their schedule.
“Most of the races are on both coasts, so the girls have to travel Thursday-through-Monday, Garrett said. “It’s really rough on them, but there are a lot of teams here in the Midwest, and not a lot of races.”
Garrett got the idea to have some college triathlon teams and some elite competitors take part in the Ozark triathlon.
“I said, ‘Well, why don’t we have a regular triathlon and then we’ll throw the collegiate waves at the beginning?’” Garrett said.
After the elites take off, Garrett said the Finley River 5 and Tri will be beginner friendly. Competitors will need a bicycle and helmet, and will need to plan their race attire and their transitions between disciplines. You don’t need to be experienced in all three in order to attempt a sprint triathlon.
“Lots of triathletes come from either swimming, they have a bike and they can walk the run or something, or maybe they’re a casual runner,” Garrett said.
Swimming is usually the event where most beginning triathletes struggle, but race organizers have planned for that at the Neal and Betty Grubaugh Pool.
“We’re going to be in a pool and it’s standing depth the whole time. We’ve got lifeguards the whole time,” Garrett said.
The bicycle course will be patrolled by the Ozark Police Department, as will the running course downtown. If you don’t want to swim or ride a bicycle, you may also run in a 5k running-only race that is part of the event.
Want to go?
Finley River 5 and Tri triathlon
Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019
7 a.m. women’s collegiate race
7:05 a.m. 5k/run walk
7:30 a.m. open triathlon beins
Finley River Kids Tri begins once the last adult swimmer exits the pool.