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RecSports hosts 2006 biathlon

Meghan Wons | Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Eighty-three students braved the waters of St. Joe’s lake and tested their endurance in Notre Dame’s annual biathlon on Saturday, with the quickest competitor finishing the half-mile swim and two-mile run in just 18 minutes.

Although there were different divisions in the race, including varsity and non-varsity, male and female, and individual and team, all competitors began the race together – waist-deep in the notoriously murky St. Joe waters.

The first leg of the biathlon was a half-mile swim, which required competitors to swim out to a buoy, across to another buoy, and then back to the starting point on the shore, said Assistant Director of RecSports Bill Reagan.

Swimmers who were racing as part of a team exited the lake and tagged their partners, who then began the two-mile running leg of the competition.

Individual competitors made the transition from water to land as they hurriedly dried off their feet, slipped on socks and tennis shoes and took off running. The two-mile loop followed a figure eight course around St. Joe’s and St. Mary’s lakes.

Reagan said there was no entry fee for the biathlon and that RecSports holds the biathlon annually “purely for the thrill and the fun of the event in itself.”

“It also promotes fitness and gets students thinking about how they can be active,” Reagan said.

Certified RecSports lifeguards, volunteers from the sailing club, and members of the Notre Dame Fire Department’s rescue squad ensured biathlon participants were safe. Lifeguards used kayaks and sailing club members patrolled in motorboats to monitor the swimming portion of the event.

Reagan said three participants were pulled from the water.

The men’s varsity swim team members, who have participated in previous biathlons, was a large presence this year. Reagan said the first competitor to cross the finish line was from the varsity male team division, with a time of approximately 18 minutes.

Individual competitors were not far behind, as the winners from both the individual male varsity and individual male non-varsity divisions crossed the finish line within a minute of each other, in a little over 20 minutes. Reagan said official results from the event will be posted soon on the RecSports Web site and that winners from each division will receive intramural champion tee shirts.

The biathlon was senior Katie Fischls’ first.

“I used to swim and I am training for the Chicago marathon, so I thought [the biathlon] would be fun to try,” Fischls said. “It was a lot harder than I expected, but it was a good experience and I’m glad I did it.”

Reagan said he is happy with the number of participants the race drew and is looking forward to more competitors next year.