QUICK COLUMN: Kiawah Golf Resort breathes new life into 19-year triathlon event
Sometimes things just work out for the better.
Last fall, the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission informed Kiawah Island Triathlon Race Director Mike Loggins that he no longer could use Beachwalker County Park to stage the Olympic-distance event, which had been a staple for the local triathlon community for nearly two decades.
In a nutshell, the triathlon had long been too big for the park, which was getting more visitors, and put too much strain on park staff.
The news didn't sit well with Loggins, who sent out an email to past participants saying that, “In the end, the loser is you, the triathlete, and the (beneficiary) Low Country Little League.”
The event appeared headed for the history books when the Kiawah Island Golf Resort, which has hosted the Kiawah Island Marathon event, stepped up and created a similar event.
Renamed the Kiawah Island Golf Resort Triathlon, it will be staged inside the resort's gate at the more spacious Night Heron Park on Sept. 15, the same third Sunday that the Kiawah triathlon has long been held.
Registration opened for the event last Friday, but the resort's Lis King says the local triathlon community already has expressed its support for the event.
“It's exciting to see how many triathletes in Charleston have stepped up to ask how they can help,” says King.
Besides the location, another slight change is that it will be an atypical distance of a 0.7-mile ocean swim, 24-mile bike and 6-mile run, rather than the official Olympic distance of 1.5K swim, 40K bike, and 10K run, though King says that may change.
First, Kiawah wanted a slightly shorter swim course so that it could get its feet wet, so to speak, with holding a swim. Second, Kiawah did not want to take the bike course out on Bohicket Road, where traffic control becomes more trying and dangerous.
King says official measurements for Kiawah's first USA Triathlon certification will take place this week and that the run may actually reach the 10K, or 6.2-mile, distance.
Bigger & better?
Contrary to the doom of losing a triathlon tradition in the Charleston area, the change has the potential for making the event better with more space, resources and organization.
The same staff that will be working on the triathlon has years of experience putting on the well-organized Kiawah Island Golf Resort Marathon, which also features a half-marathon, on the second Saturday of December. And they have experience with even bigger events, such as last year's PGA Championship.
No longer shoehorned into Beachwalker Park, the triathlon has the potential to grow.
Knowing first-hand that many marathoners also are triathletes, or know triathletes, the resort's mailing list likely will broaden the reach of the event to a more regional or national scale. The cap has gone from 300 to 500.
Time to move on
Kiawah officials met with Loggins about working with him on the event, but the two couldn't come to terms. Loggins wanted $5,000 “for the rights,” his email list and about eight hours of consulting. Kiawah declined.
“Basically, they offered me a quarter (the coin, figuratively speaking) to give them all the information and show them how to put on the race,” he says.
That said, Loggins says that he has no plans to take legal action and, in fact, was even a little diplomatic in talking about the changes.
“I have no ill feelings for them, but I'm not going to be a part of it,” he says.
As I somewhat suspected when this first transpired last fall, Loggins and his wife, Patt Loggins, who both own The Extra Mile Running Shop on King Street, were ready to leave the stresses of race management behind.
Mike is 57 and Patt is 51, and they have quite a resume of organizing triathlons, duathlons and fun runs in the past 20 years. Many endurance event participants don't appreciate how sapping the job can be — in part, because some runners and triathletes are notorious complainers.
“When I got into this, I was blond-headed and smiling, and now I'm gray-headed and scowling,” says Loggins.
He adds that he and Patt no longer will hold the Daniel Island Twilight Fun Run series, a popular series of evening races held during the summer, that has had a run of at least a decade. He says that the addition of the Charles Towne Landing race series last year hurt turnout at the twilight runs.
In the end, Kiawah's happy. Mike and Patt seem happy. And a few hundred local triathletes are happy to have a late-season triathlon neaby.
Sometimes things just work out for the better.
Reach David Quick at email@example.com.