The High Country area is home to several annual athletic endurance events. It has fun runs, 5Ks, marathons, half-marathons, century bike rides, foot races up a mountain, and mountain bike races around one. This weekend features a nearby contest which combines more than one – the Watauga Lake Triathlon.
The race features a 1,000-meter swim in Watauga Lake, a 35-kilometer bike ride around Roan Creek, and an eight-kilometer run through a pastoral farm area back to Watauga Lake. It was first run in 2005. According to race organizers, it was “inspired by the picturesque countryside and pristine waters of Watauga Lake.” According to a 2011 race preview, it’s as challenging as it is beautiful.
“We try to tell people it’s a low-key race,” Vandiver said. “It’s not a really high-powered, competitive kind of race, though we do get a lot of strong competitors and a lot of first-timers and others back for a repeat competition.”
Participants, he said, are friendly, creating an atmosphere that’s free of the pressure commonly associated with races.
“We also do a lot of relays, which are always fun, because we always have at least eight or 10 relay teams come in … with two to three people on the teams,” Vandiver said. “The majority of people do it individually, but there are a lot of relay teams, as well.”
The race starts at Sugar Grove Baptist Church, located just outside Watauga County in Butler, Tenn.