Nearly a thousand triathletes will converge on Sea Colony on Sept. 24 to compete in the 22nd Make-A-Wish triathlon to benefit terminally ill children.
Individuals and teams of various genders and age groups — totaling 980 athletes — will complete a 1.5-kilometer swim, 36-kilometer bike ride and a 10-kilometer run.
The swim will be under the supervision of the Sea Colony beach patrol and the route will run 25 yards parallel to shore. Swimming conditions will be monitored carefully due to the fact that the swimming portion of the triathlon is the toughest for competitors to finish, according to Sea Colony Aquatics Director Mike Jandzen.
“The open-water swim is usually the toughest part of triathlon for competitors to finish,” said Jandzen. “You cannot simulate the ocean’s power. The ocean can be intimidating, especially when it’s rough.”
In most years, the ocean has had a northern current, so this year’s swim will start at the north end of South Bethany and end up at island house at Sea Colony, following the current.
For those who cannot or don’t feel that the ocean’s conditions are safe enough for them to compete for the Make-A-Wish charity — don’t fret. Triathlon organizers will allow those who feel unprepared or unsafe to bypass that portion of the triathlon in good faith for the charity.
Organizers may allow participants to sidestep risky swimming conditions, but every participant had to pay a $75 fee before Aug. 1 or $85 after that date in conjunction with a minimum $275 donation.
Sea Colony used to be the site for the Bud Lite Triathlon — a mecca for hard-core triathletes years ago — but the race at that site now has a humanitarian mission.
“Over the years, Bud Lite moved onto another venue and Sea Colony was interested in associating themselves with a charity like this,” said Jandzen. “We were looking for a sponsor and the Make-A-Wish foundation was a perfect match. It’s great to have a venue like this to help people.”
Many of the competitors, according to Jandzen, are “true-blue” triathletes, but an overwhelming portion of them are those who have someone close to them who is affected by a terminal illness.
The Make-A-Wish foundation grants kids with terminal diseases just that — a wish that they would otherwise never have granted.
Vacations to Disney World or going to a stock-car race and riding in one of the cars are a couple examples of what the kids wish for.
This year’s triathlon will begin at 8 a.m. and all those interested in making a donation can attend the event at Sea Colony or can go to midatlantic.wish.org on the Internet.