By: Josh Brannock, Sports Editor
The triathlon club is on a mission to bring health, endurance and a better understanding of the events to UNF.
George Yoho, President of the Triathlon Club, has spent the last semester attempting to make the club bigger.
“[I had to] constantly tell people to come out and try and make friends,” Yoho said. “A lot of people were intimidated … so I had to make it sound like more fun.”
Yoho said that the club isn’t just for athletes who are well-trained and have experience in distance events. Everyone is welcomed, whether they are a newcomer to the art of triathlons, looking to get into better shape or looking for more training for competitions.
To start a club at UNF, Yoho had to find a faculty member to sponsor the club. Yoho sought out who he thought was the perfect fit, Dr. Jeffrey Wight, UNF exercise science Professor.
Wight said he was ecstatic to be a part of the club. His main goal is to bring a healthy lifestyle to UNF students and an environment in which students can learn with their peers.
“I’m certainly passionate about fitness and health and getting students exercising,” Wight said. “Talking about it and learning about it is one thing, but actually doing it is another.”
Wight and Yoho are both passionate about the competitiveness of the sport and the fact that the club is open to anyone.
“I urge my students to get involved, and I know that young people love competing in athletics,” Wight said. “When students like George create opportunities for students, I’m thrilled and do whatever I can to help.”
“This club is for giving other students that are athletes an opportunity to compete if they’re not in the athletic department,” Yoho added. “It doesn’t matter their experience or level that they can compete.”
All members of the student body are able to participate in the club, but Yoho said some are hesitant at first because of the daunting idea of running a triathlon. Yoho stressed that it doesn’t matter what a participant’s pace is initially, and everyone is there to get better and motivate each other through the tough times.
Junior Dillion Hawkins recently joined the group and was one of the more experienced athletes when it came to distance running. Hawkins said even with his marathon background, he still struggled his first time out.
“I’m a runner, but when I came into the club, I had no experience with swimming or cycling,” Hawkins said. “Going into the pool was really intimidating.”
Hawkins said everyone should go out, whether they’re a strong athlete or just looking to continue a new year’s resolution.
“I would say go for it, dive on in. It’s open to all levels. You don’t have to be a pro; I sure wasn’t. I say just do it.”
Hawkins said he was inspired to join the group after he watched an Ironman race and ran into the group at Club Fest.
“I saw an Ironman on TV, and I was like, ‘I’m going to take it to the next level and try a marathon’,” Hawkins said. “Initially, I joined it to meet people of a like mind, people I could train with that also wanted to get stronger and faster.”
The club will be entering its first year as an official member of the Florida Collegiate Triathlon Conference. The club will participate in triathlons that vary in distance. In the sprint events, the participants will swim 750 m, bike 20 km (12 mi) and finish off the event with a 5 km (3 mi) run. In the events that follow the Olympic distances, each participant will have to swim 1.5 km (roughly 1 mi), bike 40 km (24 mi) and run 10 km (6 mi) to finish the race.
Email Josh Brannock at [email protected]