After a year off, Captain Thurmond’s Challenge, a triathlon in Fayette County, is returning on Saturday after some initial doubt.
In 2017 Sarah Coffey along with Hilary Nicolau and Toby Evans took the event over and growing it into what it is now. Coffey and Nicolau are still the event organizers and even with a year off there’s still a lot of excitement.
“We didn’t have it last year so technically this is our fourth year putting it on,” Coffey said. “Honestly we didn’t even know if we were going to have it this year until a little over a month ago. We thought COVID might hurt us again. There’s a lot of logistics involved so we weren’t for sure but luckily we were able to work everything out.
“I want to mention the New River Health Association too. They are our No. 1 sponsor. They donate a lot of money to help us and we can’t do it without them. The local businesses too. They’re just awesome.”
Despite the late notice, the event has drawn a nice preregistered field.
When the duo first organized the event in 2017, they had hoped for 40 participants. They ended up with over 60. This year Coffey and Nicolau are anticipating over 80 with whispers of even more teams showing up to compete on Saturday.
“We have relay and raft teams,” Coffey explained. “We currently already have 85 people participating tomorrow. That’s pretty good considering the late signups. I’ve already had two people from Ohio call me today and we have several local people trying to throw boaters together. My husband might be biking tomorrow. We’ll have a lot of people just show up and race tomorrow. I’d say at least 10 people.”
Most triathlons consist of a combination of running, biking and swimming but Captain Thurmond’s Challenge takes a different approach. The competitors start off biking before rafting or kayaking, finishing the course on leg.
“The biking is 15.5 miles, the river is seven and the run is 6.5 miles,” Coffey said. “They bike from town to Cunard and then they hit the water and run from Fayette Station to the finish line.”
There are also some changes to the aesthetic of the event this year as it honors Walter Ashley, who was a big part of the event.
“He always started our races with the gun,” Coffey said. “He passed away this past year so the silhouette in our logo is actually him. He’s going to be on our t-shirts, stickers, water bottles and everything.”
For those interested, there will also be a 2K and a 5K on Saturday morning in front of the courthouse in Fayetteville. Registration will open at 7 a.m with the race beginning at 8 a.m.
The actual triathlon will begin at 10 a.m. but anyone wishing to register the day of needs to do so between 8 and 9 a.m. in front of the courthouse in Fayetteville.
Contact Tyler Jackson at email@example.com, call him at 304-731-5542 and follow on Twitter @tjack94