Meridian Star

Sports

July 11, 2014

Bonita Lakes set to host annual Sunfish Triathlon

MERIDIAN — Locals looking to get some exercise in at Bonita Lakes park will have to wait until the afternoon Saturday as the area prepares to host the Sunfish Triathlon.

Bonita Lakes will be closed to everyone except athletes and those cheering them on until 1 p.m. Saturday, as approximately 400 people will compete in the triathlon that includes 1/3 of a mile of swimming, an 18-mile bike ride and a 5K run.

The upper lake will also be closed all day today as crew for the event begin setting up. Registration and packet pickup for those who pre-registered will go until 8 p.m. today at the boat landing on the upper lake. The even itself will last from 7 a.m. until approximately 10 a.m. Saturday.

"It's quite a competitive event," City of Meridian Cultural Affairs Coordinator Casey Null said. "We have a lot of individuals and a couple of teams participating, and most of them come from out of town. We're looking at not only a great sporting event, but a great tourist attraction as well."

Null said the city would close down Bonita Lakes to the general public Saturday until 1 p.m. to keep the area from being overcrowded.

"Someone may be starting their biking at the same time someone else is starting their run, so there's a lot going on in a quick amount of time," Null said. "It's more of a safety standard than anything."

Lora Kennedy, director of the race, said the Sunfish Triathlon has been a staple in Lauderdale County for approximately 30 years. Originally a Okatibbee Lake event, the triathlon moved to Bonita Lakes in the last five years.

"We thought, as pretty as it is out there, it would be a great location with us being right there by the hotels," Kennedy said. "It's right off the interstate, and it's just a straight shot from everywhere."

The cost for individuals to register is $80, and team registration costs $120. Kennedy said slots are still open to anyone interested.

"We have probably 40 people from Lauderdale County (participating)," Kennedy said. "We're hoping to get more people from the county involved (in the future)."

For more information, call 601-485-1944.

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