The Slippery Rock University Triathlon Club had eight members qualify for nationals this past weekend by competing in the Mighty Moraine Man Triathlon.
Five members met the requirements by completing the sprint triathlon. With a 750-meter swim, a 12.4-mile biking course and a 5K run, the sprint triathlon totals half the distance of an Olympic event. The other three Slippery Rock competitors participated in the super sprint which is a quarter of Olympic length.
Two SRU students will race in the SavageMan Triathlon in Swanton, Maryland this weekend and two others will take part in the Ironman 70.3 in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Sunday.
The Triathlon Club is an intramural sports club that has been on campus since 2013. It has a roster of roughly 15 members, a dozen of which plan to reach the national event in Tempe, Arizona next spring. However, club president Nathan Shultz says he leads a club with members who have different strengths and weaknesses.
Shultz worked at a bike shop over the summer, swam in high school and began his time at Slippery Rock running for the cross country team. He stresses that not everybody who joins the club needs experience in all of these areas. The club can serve as a way to provide comradery for the many students that long for their time in high school sports or simply want to stay fit.
“The [members of the club] have varying skill levels from even needing to learn how to swim and not having a bike,” Shultz said. “The variety is kind of the spice of the club. It honestly makes it more fun because it’s more relaxed. It’s as serious as you make it.”
As club president, Shultz enjoys working with members, such as teaching them correct swimming form. He encourages only one thing, a personal rule of sorts.
“If you’re wearing the same jersey, or singlet, or tri-suit as me, you’re not allowed to quit,” Shultz said. “You have to at least finish the race [you’re competing in].”
Students can join the growing club by signing up on CORE and IMLeagues and paying $20, which buys a membership and t-shirt. Finish a race though, and those registration fees and the way to the race is refunded.
“If you finish a race, you basically have a three-day vacation in Tempe, Arizona waiting for you in early April,” Shultz said of the trip to Collegiate Club and High School National Championships, which is paid for by Student Government Association.
Shultz reasons that college may be the best opportunity for most to compete in a triathlon.
“You may never have the financial opportunities or the resources we have now to try a triathlon, so why not do one now?” Shultz said. “If you graduate and never do another one again, oh well. I just don’t want anyone to go ‘What if?’
“Just because you’re older now doesn’t mean bikes are any less fun than they were when you were seven,” Shultz added. “And it’s really cool knowing, yeah, I could swim across this lake if I absolutely had to.”
Shultz also feels as if running races are beginning to be watered down in prestige, saying that contestants who run the 26.2 miles of a marathon in six hours have the same accomplishment at the finish line as those who finish in three hours.
“I think a triathlon, in my completely biased opinion, has a little more recognition to it,” Shultz said. “Because you’ve got to be at least competent in three things.”
Overall, he hopes people join to stray out of their comfort zone and do something many believe they cannot.
“You get to try and challenge yourself in a different way,” Shultz said. “I’d rather have people who don’t know how to [do something such as] swim than just a bunch of elitists. I wouldn’t want an elitist club.”