By Courtney Tennill

Imagine swimming 300 yards, biking six kilometers and then running five kilometers-in the same day.That’s what the participants in Richmond’s first-ever triathlon will do Saturday, April 12.

Mark Howard, assistant director and facilities coordinator of Campus Recreation, said he is excited about the event.

“We thought it would be a great event for the university community,” he said.

There are divisions for men and women in each of the following categories: students, faculty, staff, over fifty-five and teams.

Windbreakers will be given to all of the winners. But if you think triathlons are only for people who spend six days a week at the gym, you’re wrong.

“Anyone can participate,” Howard said. “We have a team division for individuals with less training or who may not be comfortable with some of the events.”

Participants start out in the Alumni Coliseum pool. After swimming 300 yards, they take a 6K biking excursion to Cracker Barrel and back. The race finishes with a 5K run around the perimeter of campus-ending back at the pool.

Jonathan Belickis, an accounting major from Xenia, Ohio, decided to enter after his swimming professor encouraged him to.

“I thought it would be a fun way to test how in-shape I am,” he said.

When asked how he was preparing, he said he was pushing himself in swimming class and working out daily.

Reid Connelly, an IT employee for Eastern, is also competing next Saturday.

“This is actually my first triathlon,” he said. “I swim in the morning at the AC pool and one day I saw a flier for it. After I thought about it some, I decided to give it a try.”

Connelly says he’s not been preparing the way he should be. “Right now I mostly swim. Now that things have warmed up, I’ve been working biking back in and a little bit of running. I’ve never been a big fan of running, so it’s the hardest activity for me to get motivated for.”

Jennifer Helms, a geosciences graduate student originally from Atlanta, has competed in marathons and half-marathons for the past five years-and said she was excited to enter Eastern’s triathlon.

“I dove (for the swim team) in high school and I have been an avid road and mountain biker for about six years,” she said.

Helms is also working hard to prepare for next week.

“I competed in a marathon two weeks ago, so no running for me,” she said. “However, I have been swimming at the YMCA and road biking. And I have a trainer for my road bike, so I can ride and watch movies in my living room when it’s raining.”

She also pointed out that she’s not in it for the windbreaker.

“I hope I do well, but I’m not in it to win it-just compete, have fun and finish strong,” she said.