Going the distance: Athletes flock to compete in Lake Logan Multisport Festival
Sunrise was still hours away when the day started at Lake Logan.
With the first starting gun firing at 7 a.m., Aug. 2 the throng of racers participating in the Lake Logan Multisport Festival had to get there early. By 5:30 a.m., N.C. 215 snaking from the Pigeon River Valley in Bethel up the flank of Cold Mountain was clogged with traffic, and one hour later, a mass of competitors, spectators, dogs and children had filled the bridge overlooking Lake Logan.
“For a long time you could see headlights through the trees for quite a ways,” said Chris Shell, one of about 15 Haywood County sheriff’s deputies policing the event.
In all, more than 1,200 competitors journeyed to Haywood County from across the country for the weekend line-up of races put on by Glory Hound Events.
Mostly cloudy and 60-something, the weather was the best a tri-athlete could ask of a southern August. But in the mountains, chances are generally good for a less-than-sweltering day, something that was a draw for many runners.
“It’s 10 degrees cooler, so that’s nice,” said half-ironman competitor Janynet Kizer, who lives near Raleigh. “It’s in the mountains, but the terrain of the bike course is not quite mountainous.”
The half-ironman was a new event for this year, the eighth for the Lake Logan festival. The endurance-testing half-iron includes a 1.2-mile swim, 52-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run, but the festival also offers international and sprint distance triathlons, an aquathlon and an aquabike. The half-iron was largely responsible for more than doubling the festival’s turnout for 2014, bringing in 1,223 participants compared to 549 last year.
Timing-wise, it works well into the schedules of those training for bigger races at the end of the season.
“We’re fairly close to a couple of big races, Louisville and Chattanooga,” said organizer Greg Duff of Glory Houd Events. “It’s a good time to prep.”
“He’s ready to go and I’m a nervous wreck,” said Raleigh resident Lindsey Yoder as her husband John helped her adjust her wetsuit prior to the start of her first half-iron. John had done a couple half-irons before, and the two started training together last September.
The Yoders enjoy these kinds of races because it gives them something to do as a couple.
Though Heather Osegueda sat on the sidelines for this one, she also sees racing as a way to unite the family. Since her 2-year-old son Kai was born, she’s done more watching than racing, but she travels with a group of friends whose husbands all train together in Greenville, South Carolina. They have a good time together. One day, she hopes to cheer Kai on in his first race.
“My husband did an ironman when I was pregnant with him, and I had a shirt that said ‘Future Ironman’ on my belly,” she said.
To the uninitiated, the thought of willingly completing such a long route might sound daunting. But for those that do it, it’s a way of life.
“It’s one of those things that once you do it, it kind of gets in your blood,” said Jessica Justice, who watched with Osegueda. “Once you do it, every distance seems more do-able.”
The Lake Logan Multisport Festival in Haywood Couty on Saturday featured a lineup of five outdoor sporting events over two days, attracting 1,223 participants. Of those, 1,005 finished their race.
• Half-iron triathlon: 1.2-mile swim, 52-mile bike, 13.1-mile run.
• International distance triathlon: 1500-meter swim, 24-mile bike, and 10K run.
• Sprint distance triathlon: 500-meter swim, 12-mile bike, and 5K run.
• Aquabike: 1500-meter swim and 12-mile bike.
• Aquathlon: 1500-meter swim and 5K run.