Triathlon draws 29 for third annual event

Matt Spooner emerges from the cold water. He finished first in the swim and third overall. This was his first outdoor triathlon. Laura Paulus / Free PressThe third annual Ready, Set, Tri triathlon was held on Saturday, Sept 8 at the Marion County Lake.

The triathlon is hosted by Can Be Healthy Marion, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making Marion a safe and fun place to be active.

One of the organizers, Shawna Hett, explained, “We formed this nonprofit in order to raise money to provide bike trails and other safety measures for the community to be safe in Marion.”

“A lot of drivers get frustrated with bikers especially. There isn’t a safe place to ride here in town so we are hoping to change that,” said Sarah Dye, who works with Hett to organize the triathlon.

There are not many triathlons in the area so the need for this event is high.

“I live an hour and a half away and this is the second closest one to me. I try to do five a year so I really need this one to continue,” said athlete Steve Dunaway.

The race had a great turnout in spite of the cooler weather. Many turned out to cheer on the participants.

“We had 28 signed up and we had one walk up today for a total of 29,” said Dye.

“We plan to keep going each year and hopefully have even more participate,” said Hett.

There were both men and women of all ages participating including a team that came together. The youngest athlete was Dye’s son Tristen who is 14. He finished at 18th place.

“I was nervous, but in the end it was fun, and I can’t wait to do another one. But after I’ve had some time to do more training for the cycling part,” said Tristan Dye.

The triathlon started off with an open water 500 meter swim across the Marion County Lake. Once racers emerged from the water, they took off on their bikes for a ride of about five miles through Marion and then back to the lake. After that, they finished the race with a 5K run around the Marion County Lake.

“It was fun. It was challenging. The open water swim was great. The bike was fairly flat but had a few hills. The run had a lot of hills so that was challenging. They advertised it that the hilly run would challenge you and it did,” said Matt Spooner who was first finishing the swim and third overall.

Although the run was difficult, most of the athletes had smiles and appeared to be having fun.

“Got enough stress in my life. This ain’t gonna be one of them.” Steve Dunaway as he flexed his muscles while running.

The organizers and volunteers had encouraging signs placed throughout the course for the participants. There was food and fun at the end of the race with awards for all the participants.

“From Shawna and I a special thank you to the volunteers who helped. We couldn’t do it without them,” said Dye.

For the results from the race, go to

The Fourth Annual Ready, Set, Tri triathlon will be held next year on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019 at 8 a.m. at the Marion County Lake. Like their facebook page, Can Be Healthy Marion, and follow for more information.

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