Staff photos by Emmy Errante
Marshall Wallace exits the pool at the University of North Carolina Wilmington during the Azalea Triathlon on Saturday, March 9.
The parking lot was packed, as the almost 700 participants in the Azalea Triathlon were met with the warm sun and a chilly breeze on March 9, at and around the campus of the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Competitors warmed up by swimming 300 yard laps in UNCW’s Natatorium before running outside to their bikes to commence a 10-mile ride along the outskirts of campus.
Steam from an 80-degree pool could be seen rising from the bodies of the competitors as they ran to their bikes.
With the bike ride finished, competitors then switched gears, adjusting to a 5-mile run to the finish line where they gathered beneath a tent showcasing the race results in real time.
As triathletes gathered around the winners’ postings, several noted they had faster times than expected, and attributed this to the moderate temperature and flat nature of the course.
This year, the running course was modified slightly, a change welcomed by several of the competitors.
“The running course was better this year,” said Matt Whistoff, overall winner of the event. “There weren’t as many sharp bends as in previous years.”
Whistoff said this was his sixth or seventh year competing in the race, and he had placed first the majority of those times.
Training for Whistoff is “pretty much year round,” as he said he competes in many athletic events around town. His next venture will be the relay portion of the Wrightsville Beach Biathlon, which is scheduled for March 23, and will be held at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort.
A trophy is still currently on display in the Blockade Runner’s lobby with Whistoff’s name engraved alongside his teammate’s from the relay portion of the 2012 biathlon.
In Saturday’s Azalea Triathlon, Whistoff’s winning time was 43:28. Runners up in the men’s division were Seth Long of Raleigh, who finished the race in 44:30, and Zack Capets of Huntersville, who finished in 46:08.
The top three finishers in the women’s division were Tara Martine of Greensboro, who clocked in at 51:16; Tanya Houghton of Weddington, with 51:37; and Colleen McCarthy of Raleigh, who crossed the finish line in 53:30.
For aspiring triathletes who missed out on this year’s event, next year’s event date will be posted on Nov. 1, and registration will begin on Nov. 12, 2013.
Proceeds from this year’s event benefitted the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training and UNCW’s swimming and diving team.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training sponsors endurance sports events and athletes around the world to raise money for research and cancer treatment for patients. To date, the organization has raised more than $1.2 billion.