published Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon has 1,000-plus registered

  • photo
    Kim Malonson of Marietta, Ga., prepares to transition from cycling to running during the 2012 Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon. The 2014 race is Sunday.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
    enlarge photo

In all the excitement over the Ironman triathlon's Chattanooga debut on the last Sunday of this September, perhaps some people have forgotten about the city's existing big-deal triathlon on the last Sunday in June.

But more than 1,000 people are still worked up about the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon. That's how many have registered for Sunday's event, the eighth downtown version of the 32-year-old swim-bike-run that used to start at the Chickamauga Dam recreation area.

"We had about 900 register last year, but we've had 1200 or close to 1300 in the past," race director Jenni Berz said Wednesday. "Our capacity is about 1500, and we will take registrations till 6 p.m. Saturday, but we probably won't get many more."

Most people who are serious about a triathlon already would have signed up, she indicated, but anyone else is welcome. The race will have a staggered start beginning at 7:30 a.m.

It consists of a 1.5-kilometer swim in the Tennessee River, a 42-kilometer bike ride and a 10k run. The transitions will take place at Ross's Landing.

"Temperatures are supposed to be in the 80s or low 90s Saturday. The water temperature was 72 degrees a week ago," Berz said.

She said the Ironman's effect has been "more positive than anything" on the Waterfront Triathlon. The Sept. 28 race is a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run, "and I know a lot of people are using this race as one of their training races for the Ironman."

Plus, many triathletes who wanted to sign up for the Ironman were unable to. It filled in mere minutes when registration was opened.

"It has put more attention on the sport -- and obviously more attention on Chattanooga," Berz said. "Some of the people from Ironman who came here during the process, even before Chattanooga was selected, had done the Waterfront Triathlon before and were fond of this race and knew we had the capacity to put on something of that level."

One of the pro triathletes entered is New Zealand native Anna Cleaver, who in fact moved to Chattanooga last week after a couple of years in Greenville, S.C. Cleaver, 32, lived previously in Boulder, Colo., and in Los Angeles before that. Now a full-time athlete after 10 years in corporate finance -- in the world of mergers and acquisitions -- she's here to train for the Ironman but plans to stay.

"I want to make this my home," said Cleaver, who visited on Memorial Day weekend to watch the U.S. Pro Cycling races. "I visited here quite a few times and felt it was a fantastic place for training. The fact the Ironman is going to be here just topped it off. The triathlon community here is pretty amazing and very welcoming."

Another entrant is Tony White of Nashville, who last year won the Old Hickory Lake Triathlon and finished second in the Music City Triathlon and Bowling Green Sprint Triathlon.

The Waterfront Triathlon is staged as a partnership of the Chattanooga Track Club and Team Magic, but it requires about 300 volunteers, and Berz said more certainly would be welcome Sunday to "help set up and break down" the event.

Anyone interested in signing up to race or volunteer can contact Berz at jberz@chattanoogatrackclub.org.

Contact Ron Bush at rbush@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6291.

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