By Kini Kedigh Plumlee
This year’s Memphis In May Triathlon Weekend returns to Edmund Orgill Park in Millington May 15-17.
Expected to draw nearly 1,500 local, regional and national athletes and fitness enthusiasts, the 2015 competition will include an Amateur Challenge with a $5,000 prize purse and a new division open only to Active Duty Military and Reserves for male and female age group, masters, relays, wheelchair and para-athlete categories.
“We are thrilled to return to Millington after five years in Tunica,” said Pam Routh, MIM Triathlon race director. “The Triathlon cannot happen without great community support. The City of Millington, Millington Chamber of Commerce, the Millington Police Department and the Millington Naval Air Station Moral, Welfare and Recreation Department have extended a huge welcome mat to us.”
A Sports Expo to be held at the race site overlooking Casper Lake in Orgill Park kicks off the weekend from 3 to 7 p.m. on Friday where event participants can register and pick up their packets. More than 50 vendors will offer the newest in sports gear, bikes, clothing and footwear. Health and fitness clinics will be presented on nutrition, bike fit and running and swimming techniques. The Sports Expo continues on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. Orgill Park is located on Bethuel Road off Navy Road in northwest Shelby County.
The MIM Sprint Triathlon begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday. A sprint triathlon is a short-distance triathlon, ideal for competitors who are new to the sport. The sprint is a 1/3 mile swim, 12-mile bicycle ride and 3 mile run. “Because sprint triathlons require less training, they have become popular with beginners,” said Routh.
The MIM Olympic Triathlon begins at 7 a.m. on Sunday. The Triathlon includes swimming .93 miles (1.5K) in Casper Lake, biking 24.8 miles (40K) in Edmund Orgill Park and the area surrounding the park, then returning to the transition area and running 6.2 miles (a 10K) in and around the park.
For Memphis triathlete Rich VanMeter, who is now in training for this year’s event (his ninth MIM Triathlon competition out of about 40 triathlons total), the return to Orgill Park is energizing. “The MIM Triathlon is a great local race,” says VanMeter. “It’s terrific that the race has come home to Millington. I love the finish with the run along the levee of Casper Lake. After finishing, everyone hangs out along the hill in front of the finisher shoot to cheer folks on. It’s a great venue.”
VanMeter, 49, is a civilian at Navy Recruiting Command on the Millington Naval Air Station where he is an Operations Research Analyst. He moved to the area in 1999 with his job. Originally from Bridgeton, New Jersey, VanMeter ran his first triathlon in Lakeland, Tenn., in 2001 and after his first race he says he “was hooked.”
“The physical challenge of doing three and not just one discipline,” is what inspires him about triathlons, he says. “The mental challenge of pushing through tough moments, especially on the run when you feel like walking, and you push yourself to keep running is what keeps me going.”
VanMeter trains about seven to nine hours each week, mostly in the early mornings and during lunch. He gets in his long runs and bike rides on the weekends.
What are VanMeter’s training secrets? “If it’s your first triathlon, just enjoy the experience,” he offers. “Don’t try anything new for the first time on race day. And don’t expect to backstroke during the race. It works in the pool in lanes but there aren’t any lanes in Casper Lake and you’ll be all over the place.”
Because this year’s race is in Millington, VanMeter is pumped up more than usual. “There’s something special about doing a race in your own backyard,” he says. “The bike course takes you on the same roads I’ve trained on and use on days when I bike to and from work. It’s the same with the run. I have a good friend from work who lives along the run course and one year, when it was especially hot, he left a beer out on a tray on a table by the road with a sign that said ‘For Rich.’ You only get special experiences like that when the race is in your own town.”
The MIM Triathlon Sports Festival relies on hundreds of volunteers over the three-day weekend. Volunteers receive a T-shirt and wrist band for food and beverages. “Organizations have partnered with us for service projects and we also need individuals or groups to volunteer for registration, packet pick up, water stops and other race activities,” said Routh.
To get involved visit www.memphisinmay.racesonline.com or contact Pam Routh at (901) 550-2114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.