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Spring triathlon promotes a healthy campus

Triathlon swim

Messiah College started the month of May off in great stride. For the second year, the College held its annual Messiah College Team Triathlon on May 1. The triathlon was developed by Messiah’s Wellness Director and Professor of Health and Exercise Science Doug Miller.

And they’re off!
As wellness director, Miller was thinking about ways to get more people exercising. Because triathlons are gaining in popularity he said it seemed like a great way to capitalize on a new trend, and bring students, employees, and alumni together for a common cause to promote campus wellness. Triathlon bike

There were two main objectives to the triathlon. The first was to build morale amongst students and various employee and alumni groups. The second was to provide another outlet for physical activity on campus.

“This event motivates many of us to do a little more training during those winter and cold spring months, and as a result we come into the spring in a little better shape,” said Miller.

The same rang true for Messiah employee Tom Hale, associate registrar. He and his wife Gina, administrative assistant in the School of Humanities, made up part of a team. Traithlon run

“The team triathlon provides a threshold that is attainable,” he says “Three people are working together to reach the goal, so there is some social motivation to do your part. For the last two years, the triathlon has encouraged me and my wife to step up our exercise regimen. With the triathlon on our calendar, we were given a goal and a date. We wanted to finish a particular leg of the “race”. In both of our cases, we would need to work to achieve that goal.”

Pressing towards the finish line
In order to participate in the event, people organized teams of three, one for each leg of the race. Each team then decided which member would bike, run, and swim. The course was designed to stay close to campus so fans could cheer on their favorite teams. Each leg was considered the typical distance for a sprint triathlon: 3.1-mile run, 12.2–mile bike, and 800-meter swim.

“I designed both courses so that the runner and the cyclist would have an opportunity to be encouraged by the crowd at one point during the race,” added Miller.  “It’s fun to hear them get encouraged as they fly by and head down College Avenue for one more loop.”

Senior Dave Smith said his favorite part of the race was competing in the swimming leg.
“Pushing myself during the swim was tough but it felt great giving it my all and passing the “torch” onto the next racer in our team,” said Smith. “All the competitors were challenged by his or her leg of the race. However there were no strong rivalries at the race, just a lot of friends racing forTriathlon teamfun.”

The final stretch
Rhonda Good, registration coordinator and director of housing, was happy with this year’s participation. “We’ve had about 27 teams both years. I think that this year we were hoping for more participants, but 27 teams is still a good amount of involvement,” she said. “The beauty of this triathlon is that you don’t have to master anything major, rather just one event, and all the distances are manageable.”

Students make up most of the participants. This year’s race included 54 students, 15 employees, and 12 alumni or family members.

One of the goals for next year will be to get more employees involved. The fitness levels range considerably, but that’s what makes this event unique. Organizers are hoping to attract both the intense competitor, as well as the recreational exerciser.

“This year’s event turned out to be a great success,” reflected Miller. “The weather warmed up, and so did the performances. We don’t charge an entry fee, and we don’t give out awards. But we do have lots of different participant divisions and that motivates some teams. This was only the second year, but we had new records set in nine different divisions.”

Story by Erin Kriner `10. Photographs by Katie Blosenski `12.

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