The winners of the men's and women's individual, and team relay categories each defended their titles as the fastest runners and standup paddleboarders at the 4th Annual Wrightsville Beach Biathlon. A unique event to Wrightsville Beach, the race combined a 4-mile paddle around Money Island from the Blockade Runner Beach Resort's Banks Channel beach and a 4-mile sand run from Crystal Pier to Johnnie Mercer's Pier.
With rain clouds lurking overhead, team relay member Matt Whistoff of Bike Cycles was the first to cross the finish line on the beach in front of the Blockade Runner Beach Resort with a combined total time of SUP and run of 1 hour and 19 minutes. Whistoff's partner, Chris Johnson earlier had finished the four mile paddle around Money Island back to the Blockade Runner the fastest as well.
Last year's men's individual champion, Jarrod Covington of Wrightsville SUP, came in first again this year with a total SUP and run time of 1 hour and 14 minutes.
The women's individual overall champion for a second year in a row was Wrightsville Beach's Kim Sutton with a total time of 1 hour and 53 minutes.
Although rain began to drizzle near the end of the race, both runners and paddlers had excellent conditions for the race. Chris Johnson of the winning relay team said the nonexistent wind and flat conditions in Banks Channel and the Intracoastal Waterway made for good paddling times.
Johnson's teammate, Whistoff, said the low tide also made the run easier than it could have been because of the compact, flat sand exposed near the ocean's edge.
"It was just hard packed and perfect for running on," Whistoff said. "There were a few places where it was a little wobbly, but overall a pretty smooth run."
Men's individual champion Jarrod Covington also said he enjoys the beach run aspect of the event, as well as the combination of two of his favorite forms of exercise around Wrightsville Beach.
"Running is pretty strong for me and I'm small so the sand doesn't bother me, I actually like it," Covington said. "This is a great event for Wrightsville Beach just because it helps to bring the SUP and running communities together."