Aug. 8, 2014. The tenth annual Watauga Lake Triathlon will be held in Butler, Tenn. on Saturday, Aug. 23 beginning at 8 a.m. The USA Triathlon-sanctioned event includes a 1,000 meter swim, a 35 kilometer bike ride and an 8 kilometer run. The event also features a separate race, the Appalachian Challenge Stamp Up Paddleboard Race, to be held at 9 a.m. There will be prizes and awards for all participants and a barbecue lunch. The event is open to spectators.
It was a decade ago when Scott Vandiver and some friends thought it would be fun to create a local triathlon competition to be held in the beautiful setting of Watauga Lake. Vandiver, a native of Johnson City, Tenn., lives and works in Boone. An anesthesiologist with Watauga Anesthesia Associates, Vandiver and his buddy Chuck Dumke, at the time a faculty member in the Health, Leisure and Exercise Science department at Appalachian State University, developed a course that would highlight their favorite bike ride in the area.
“It’s hard to believe we’ve been putting on this race for ten years,” said Vandiver. “It takes a lot of volunteers to pull this off, and we are fortunate to have some great people helping out.”
He is particularly excited that his original co-director, Dr. Dumke, is returning for the tenth anniversary.
“It’s been six years since Chuck competed in this event, and he still holds the course record!”
Dumke is now professor of exercise science at the University of Montana.
The first year was a wash out, literally: it was cancelled due to the arrival of heavy rains from Hurricane Ivan. Not to be deterred, they worked hard the whole next year to put on the best local race they could. It paid off with more than 100 participants coming out to compete in this friendly triathlon. The event has consistently drawn about 140 participants each year since it started.
When Dumke moved for his career, his successor, Travis Triplett, took up the mantle assisting Vandiver for the past six years. Triplett is a professor of exercise science and acting department head at Appalachian State University.
The organizers are proud of their event and Vandiver notes the race was given a honorable mention in Triathlon Magazine for one of the best small triathlons. It takes about 40 volunteers to put on a triathlon of this caliber and each year the event has donated its profits to local charities. This year they will once again give a donation to The Cancer Resource Alliance, an outreach arm of Seby B. Jones Regional Cancer Center, which empowers cancer survivors and their loved ones to be active partners in their healing journey through education and support. The event has contributed $30,000 to charities over the past decade. They also give a donation to the Sugar Grove Baptist Church which is the site of the race in Butler and has been very supportive.
Coming back for a second year is the Appalachian Challenge Stand Up Paddleboard Race. Expected to draw competitors from all over the southeast, the Appalachian Challenge was inspired by Marc Nachman of Kingsport, Tenn. Commonly known as SUPs, Nachman opened the area’s only dedicated SUP store in April last year in Bristol, Tenn. Called TriCities Stand Up Paddleboard Company or TriSUP, the store sells boards, provides rentals and lessons. Interested in providing local athletes a chance to compete in a points event, Nachman teamed up with his old school friend Vandiver who thought the new event would work well with the established Watauga Lake Triathlon. The event is part of the Southern Stroke Paddle Series.
The Appalachian Challenge features a long course race of eight miles, a short course race of three miles and a one mile fun paddle. It begins at 9 a.m. You can find more details at www.TriSUP.net.
Participants can preregister for either the Traithlon online through Active.com or the SUP race through paddleguru.com. Visit the website www.WataugaLakeTriathlon.com for more information.