Field hockey coach Neil Macmillan set several goals for the Bobcats this spring. One goal the players can now check off is finishing a triathlon.
The entire field hockey team participated in Athens’ first-ever triathlon Saturday, which was hosted by Athletes In Action, a group within Campus Crusade for Christ. The Bobcats divided up into teams, with each player participating in one leg of the 500-meter swim, 25-kilometer bike and 5,000-meter run.
The team counted the triathlon as part of its conditioning hours for the spring season. Several field hockey players are involved in Athletes In Action, which helped to motivate the participation even more when the idea was brought to Macmillan.
With the race coinciding with other field hockey events, it offered the opportunity for families of players to come and participate. The idea materialized after a few players brought it to the coaching staff, and then it snowballed from there, Macmillan said.
“I was thinking of already doing it myself, and we thought it might be a good idea to get the team involved in it also,” Macmillan said. “Then we tied it into the banquet and the alumni game, and with people coming into town, they’re able to do it, and it’s really exciting.”
Macmillan knew triathlons are no walk in the park. He prepared the team and aided them in any way he could leading up to the race.
“The biggest challenge in organizing it was finding people who were confident enough in doing the 500-meter swim,” Macmillan said.
Macmillan competed in the triathlon as a single participant, racing in all three parts and finishing 61st out of the 215 participants. Macmillan had done a few races before the triathlon and said it was a good chance to do a full race.
Sophomore Marissa Higgins, who is in Athletes in Action and a field hockey player, anticipated the event with excitement.
“I’m doing the biking part of it. I have never really biked much before, and it was a good opportunity to go out on the trails,” Higgins said. “The course is difficult, but it’s definitely a good experience.”
Junior Louzeth Schutte also competed in the bike portion of the race and is a member of Athletes in Action. Both Schutte and Higgins agreed that they looked forward most to finishing the race, and that was something they accomplished Saturday. In terms of Athletes in Action, Schutte said it was a great event for the community.
“I think it’s a great cause, and we’re doing it for a good thing,” Schutte said. “The town has done a lot for us and we’re trying to do something for them by getting the word out there about us and the community here.”
Ryan Bates, 31, was the overall winner with a time of 1:10:57. Todd Ricketts, 30, followed up closely behind with 1:11:41, and third place went to 36-year-old Scott Myers.