Wrightsville Beach, N.C. ... The third annual Wrightsville Beach Biathlon will test the strength and endurance of competitors on an 8-mile course over water and sand on Saturday, March 24. The original, first-ever East Coast SUP and sprint biathlon on the East Coast combines a 4-mile paddle course with a 4-mile run.
Standup paddleboarding, today's fastest growing outdoor watersport in the world, attracts thousands to Wrightsville Beach because of the extreme variety of conditions the area has to offer. The wind-chopped open ocean and the powerful currents of two ocean-going inlets affect the first leg of the course, laid out over the flat waters of Wrightsville's Banks Channel, Motts Channel and the Intracoastal Waterway providing abundant and rigorous challenges for paddlers of all levels depending on which way the wind is blowing on race day.
New features of this year's Wrightsville Beach Biathlon include the addition of relay teams to split the SUP and running portions of the race. Company sponsored and non-sponsored teams are encouraged to participate. The team with the fastest overall time will be recognized on The Masonboro Trophy, which will be displayed in the lobby of the Blockade Runner to be viewed by 70,000 annual guests and visitors.
Paddlers begin the first 4-mile portion of the race from the Blockade Runner's sound side beach navigating around Money Island and back to the starting point. Once ashore, biathletes and relay partners will sprint from Public Beach Access No. 33 to the surf line where the 4-mile running course travels across packed sand between Crystal Pier and Johnnie Mercer's Pier and back to the Blockade Runner.
Biathlon festivities will kick off at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 23, with a reception at the host hotel. On race day there will be a pre-race meeting at 9 a.m., with the race starting at 10:30 a.m. An awards ceremony with fresh fruit, sandwiches and beverages will immediately follow the race at 2 p.m., during which prizes will be given to the top three finishers in each category. World Paddle Association rules apply.
All proceeds from the event will benefit the FOR Masonboro Island organization to preserve the uninhabited beauty of Masonboro Island and the SUP Cleanup Project. Entrance fees are $45 for individual entry, $90 for team entry and a special $199 entry fee for teams that includes accommodations and breakfast for two.
Race details and registration: www.wrightsvillebiathlon.com
Note: Coming to Wrightsville Beach April 27-29 is The 2012 Carolina Cup. The Carolina Cup is a national qualifier race for the World SUP Championships and was voted "2nd Best SUP Event in the World" (SUP Connect and StandUP TV). For details on Carolina Cup races, The Graveyard Elite open ocean race (12.5 miles), The Money Island Open (6.5 miles), and The Harbor Island Recreational (3.5 miles), visit www.carolinacup-sup.com
Aerial view of Wrightsville Beach and surrounding waters: http://vimeo.com/32106044
World Paddle Association: www.worldpaddleassociation.com
Host hotel: www.blockade-runner.com