As the academic year begins, RecSports will host its annual biathlon Saturday morning to kick off a year of athletic events to provide refuge outside of class for active students on campus.
“A lot of people know about the race and look forward to it every year,” RecSports program coordinator Tim Novak said.
From the first biathlon in 1999, RecSports has continued to use the event to welcome the Notre Dame community back at the beginning of the academic year, Novak said.
Competitors will swim a half-mile in St. Joseph lake and then proceed to a two-mile trail around both campus lakes. Teams of two can split these sections of the race between the individuals.
“The biathlon is an event to kick of our year and get people aware of our programs,” Novak said. “We especially use the biathlon to encourage people to compete in the Domer Run, which is much larger and reaches out to a larger number of people.”
Students and other members of the Notre Dame community can participate in the Domer Run on Sept. 18 to benefit cancer awareness and research, according to the RecSports website.
The competitors for the biathlon are divided into 10 different divisions based on gender, involvement as a team or as an individual, and differentiation between varsity athletes and non-varsity participants to accommodate for the wide range of skill level, Novak said.
Junior Laura Philipp won the individual women’s division in 2008 and 2009.
“As a freshman, seeing information on the biathlon just made me realize that there were a lot of different RecSports events,” she said. “It opened me up to different athletic events on campus.”
Philipp said she appreciated that the biathlon gives individuals a chance to race and compete outside of many of the team activities also hosted through RecSports.
“It is a pretty great event to open up the school year,” physical education faculty member Josh Skube said. “RecSports does a really nice job.”
Skube won the individual men’s non-varsity division in 2009. He said that even though the event is well supported by the varsity swim team it is still open to competitors at all stages of experience.
“This is really friendly towards all levels of ability,” Skube said. “I do not get a feeling that everyone is out to win it. … Everyone just wants to go out and have fun.”
Free registration especially entices students and other members of the Notre Dame community to participate, he said.
The feeling of confidence after completing the biathlon is valuable especially for new competitors, Novak said.
“We get a lot of encouraging feedback from people who did not think they would be able to complete it,” Novak said. “The swim is the more daunting task to most people.”
Novak said that any anxiety about competitors’ safety during the race has been thoroughly addressed by RecSports in its preparation.
The safety precautions set in place by RecSports, the Notre Dame Fire Department, and the Sailing Club include boats, lifeguards and medical personnel ready for emergencies, Novak said.
Novak said the biathlon helps RecSports coordinators back into “the race mentality” after the less eventful summer season.
Registration for the biathlon is free and available online at recsports.nd.edu or at the St. Joseph Beach beginning at 9 a.m. the day of the event. The race begins at 10:30 a.m.
“The only real complaint we ever have is that the lake water is a little cold,” Novak said. “And we cannot really change that so I think we do alright.”