Running, cycling, swimming and face painting. The four may not go together at most triathlon events, but they do when the triathlon is happening in Ballantyne.
The fifth annual Tri! Ballantyne event and festival will take place July 12, a Saturday, in south Charlotte and western Union County, as families from across the region come together with the Morrison Family YMCA to participate in or watch the event and in the process help children in need. All funds raised in the day-long event will go to programs such as the YMCA’s summer camps and afterschool programs aimed at helping children who otherwise would be home alone when not in class.
“The impact of having a safe place to go and participate in these enrichment programs has a positive ripple effect for them and future generations,” said Lisa Johnson, YMCA corporate health director, regarding the triathlon event’s benefactors. “There are a lot of kids that, while their parents are working, are home alone all day long instead of being plugged into enrichment programs” like what the YMCA offers.
This year’s run will include an expanded festival, with different booths for children to check out and activities such as face painting, cornhole, temporary tattoos and more, Johnson said. There also will be food trucks and a meet-and-greet with Carolina Panthers mascot Sir Purr and Charlotte Knights mascot Homer, in addition to a mascot triathlon.
The added fun is in part a response to what triathlon organizers have seen in the last four years – an added need for spectator activities for those who come to watch the participants compete.
“We were seeing moms, kids, grandparents, all kinds of spectators you normally wouldn’t see at a triathlon coming to see their loved ones cross the finish line,” Johnson said.
As for the event itself, the Tri! Ballantyne and Kids’ Tri! Ballantyne runs will likely fill up fast, Johnson said. The original event saw 350 adults and 75 youth, while last year’s event had nearly 500 adults and 252 youth register. That’s near the event capacity, Johnson said, and organizers expect this year’s runs to possibly hit the cap, so people are encouraged to register early.
The popularity might be in the course itself, Johnson said, as it wraps through a populated stretch of nearly 13 miles in south Charlotte and Union County. Many triathlons require participants to travel, but the Tri! Ballantyne event is right in many people’s backyards. The course will include sections of Blakeney Heath, Rea, Crane, New Town, Marvin and Community House roads, in addition to Providence Road West. Drivers are encouraged to avoid the area on race morning, from 7 to 11 a.m., to avoid delays and help course safety.
And if local residents aren’t going to be out driving those roads, maybe they should consider volunteering on them, Johnson suggested. It takes more than 300 volunteers to conduct the event, and help is needed with check in, water stops, parking, food preparation and more. Interested volunteers should email email@example.com.
People do not have to be experienced in triathlons to take part in the event, which will include a 300-yard swim in the YMCA’s outdoor pool, a 12.7-mile bike ride and a 5K run. The festival will take place after the triathlon, and the YMCA will close to regular visitors to make way for the triathlon participants and spectators. The water park will be open for families during the festival.
Find more information on the event at www.ymcacharlotte.org/branches/morrison.
By Mike Parks