Paddle, swim and run against the elements in Outdoorsman Triathlon

The Outdoorsman Triathlon is coming to the Little Tennessee River in Swain County this weekend, Sept. 25 and 26.

The nation’s oldest continuous triathlon started in 1976, when outdoorsman Payson Kennedy, the founder of the Nantahala Outdoor Center, and Olympic canoeist John Burton, issued a challenge to athletes to come battle the raw elements of the Great Smoky Mountains in an outdoorsman’s triathlon. The race has seen Olympic gold medal athletes, World Champion athletes and three generations of family participants.

Rules of the race stipulate that “assistance with changing clothes, putting on shoes, or supplying food or drink to competitors is prohibited. Competitors are on their own once they begin the race.” Futher, “no form of locomotion other than running, walking, or crawling is allowed.”

The 1-mile swim is held in a cove near the mouth of the Little Tennessee and Fontana Lake. A 4-mile run travels up Needmore Road, ending with an 8-mile paddle back down the Little Tennessee River. Individual competition is held on Saturday and relays — one swimmer, one runner and one paddler — is held on Sunday.

Sponsors include The Outdoorsman Triathlon Charitable Trust, First Citizens Bank of Bryson City, Rolling Thunder River Company, Paddle Inn Rafting Company, Nantahala Outdoor Center, USA Rafting, Carolina Outfitters, Tuskaseegee Outfitters and Nantahala Village.

540.752.5400 or

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