Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sponsors & Volunteers make Annual Osprey Triathlon a Success

Hundreds of athletes will descend on Public Landing Saturday morning for the10th Annual Maryland Coastal Bays Program Osprey Sprint Triathlon, our biggest fundraiser of the year.

The sprint distance triathlon includes a half-mile swim in Chincoteague Bay, a 15-mile bike course and a 3-mile run on the roads surrounding the area. Proceeds from entrance fees and sponsorships raise money to support the bays behind Ocean City and Assateague Island. The magnificent setting of Public Landing is a natural fit for the triathlon since it showcases our estuary so well and provides the perfect course for swimming, running and biking. Thanks to the work of Coastal Bays Program partners, a 230-acre farm was permanently protected on the north side of Public Landing Road this year.

Our first race 10 years ago was the brainchild of former Coastal Bays Program Director David Blazer. With planning help from triathlon organizers from the American Cancer Society in Salisbury, Blazer, his staff and a great group of 90 volunteers made the event a success, with 138 athletes and $18,000 raised for the Program.

The response from racers was overwhelmingly positive, with competitors proclaiming it to be one of the best settings available in the region, providing a challenging, safe and fun course and helpful volunteers. Last year was our most successful triathlon to date, with 450 athletes participating bringing in more than $25,000. In addition to attracting additional racers each year, the annual race has become a spectator attraction, with more than 1,000 gathering along the route and at the finish line to cheer on the racers.

Coastal Bays staffer Kate Diffenderfer, who took over from Blazer as the event’s organizer, has made some changes this year that will help make the race more environmentally friendly. Instead of mailing 3,000 brochures, she used the internet and email to promote the triathlon. More recycling bins will be on site the day of the race and any leftover food will be donated to a local charity. Our winners will receive medals made from recycled bike chains, which can be converted to a keychain.

It is no small task to prepare for such a large outdoor athletic event, so we count on the help of volunteers to make the day run smoothly. We utilize the services of more than 100 volunteers who help ensure the success of the event. Volunteers are needed to help with course preparation on Friday afternoon, as well as Saturday morning. They are stationed at areas along the transition area, and along the swim, bike and run routes to cheer on racers. They also help to close down the event, including removing the finish line, disassembling the bike racks, helping to corral trash and recyclables and packing up race materials.

We also couldn’t make this event a success without the help of sponsors. This year we’d like to thank the following businesses for their financial support: Seacrets, M & T Bank, Bahia Marina, Thrasher’s Fries, Gismondi Insurance, Taylor Bank, Francis Scott Key Motel, OC Wasabi, Sun Signs, Delmarva Power, Barcoding Inc., Ocean City Chiropractic Clinic, Halls Restaurant, the Original Greene Turtle, Bike Sports, Pepsi, Home Depot, Coastal Builders, Atlantic General Hospital, Mike Truitt of Merrill Lynch and Worcester County Tourism.

Thanks also to Hi-Tide Marine, Todd Burbage and Kool Ice and Seafood for donating goods and services and to local artist Kirk McBride who donated the logo design for our 10th anniversary race. T-shirts sporting the new logo will be sold during the race and at the pre-race dinner Friday night at Sunset Grille in West Ocean City. A final thanks to the Worcester County Public Works Department and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

To volunteer, contact Kate Diffenderfer at 410-213-2297 ext.106 or kdiffenderfer@mdcoastalbays.org. For race information go to www.mdcoastalbays.org/osprey/info.php.

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