Trip Hairston has turned his envy into action.
On Saturday, the Columbus resident will be one of more than 100 competitors expected to participate in the third-annual Possum Town Triathlon. The event, which is organized by Brad and Melissa Atkins, will kick off at 7 a.m. Saturday at the boat ramps off Wilkins Wise Road in Columbus. It will feature a 600-yard swim, a 17-mile bicycle ride, and a 3.3-mile run. All of the information about the course can be found at possumtowntriathlon.com. Registration for the event is $80 for an individual and $130 for a relay team of three.
Hairston decided about a month and a half ago to take part in the sprint triathlon. Last year, he volunteered to help with the race and said he was envious that the nearly 150 competitors were having such a good time swimming, cycling, and running. Hairston, 42, said he finally decided he should get out there and join them instead of sitting back and watching.
“I am a distance runner, and this year I have run two half marathons and a 10-K,” Hairston said. “I was kind of progressing to the point that I was looking for different opportunities and to do different things. Triathlons have always been something I wanted to do.”
Still, Hairston expressed apprehension about doing a triathlon because he wasn’t sure how he would do in the swimming portion of the event. He said his wife, Bethany, who is a member of Swim Columbus, a local swimming club, is a proficient swimmer while he initially struggled to do one lap in the pool. For someone who said he can run 12 miles and feel barely winded, that was an adjustment he had to make. But nearly a month ago, Hairston committed to the training that was going to help him compete. He said he went to the Columbus YMCA for 10 days in a row and swam in that pool or in the at the Mississippi University for Women and made myself do it.
“Now I can go back and forth and back and forth without stopping,” said Hairston, who has increased the yardage he can do in one stretch to build his confidence so he will be able to handle the 600-yard swim at the start of the sprint triathlon. “Somebody said to me the other day that the swim is a fancy way of getting to the starting line. You have to take that approach. There are a lot of people who do struggle in the swim. More than half of the people who compete in triathlons consider the swim is something to get through to get to the bike. It scared me to death, but after 10-straight days I got through that pretty quickly.”
Hairston said people at th YMCA also gave him advice on how to approach the triathlon. He said the told him to slow down and not try to go all out at the start of the race and set a blistering pace, especially in an event he wasn’t most comfortable in.
Last week, Hairston said he was still apprehensive about getting in the water and completing the swim. He said he will rely on 20 years of running experience and the work he has done on a new road bike to give him the confidence to believe he will finish. He isn’t sure how he will do, but he said his goal is to complete the race in less than two hours.
Whatever his time, Hairston said he will feel a lot better after he completes the swim and conquers the doubt that held him back.
“I have a fair amount of anticipation and anxiety getting prepared and thinking about doing it,” Hairston said. “It is fun. It is something I am looking forward to. It also gives you that sense of accomplishment. Something about being there that day and the hype of the race and all of the preparation and getting finished and meeting that goal is why you do it.”
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor.
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.