'Good open water opportunities aren't plentiful'

'Good open water opportunities aren't plentiful'

Runners, swimmers and cyclists trained together and raised money for a good cause Saturday at a Multi-Sport Training Day and ABC Run at Lake Bloomington.

The multisport event is in its eighth year. Organized by the Lake Run Club and the Central Illinois Masters Swim Team, it includes road and trail runs, open water swimming in Lake Bloomington and 26-mile and 13-mile guided bike rides.

Blog PhotoThe event was held at Timber Pointe Outdoor Center on Lake Bloomington, a camp affiliated with Easterseals Central Illinois that provides programs for children with special needs. The multisport event raises money for Timber Pointe through donations from the participating athletes. This year, it raised $1,380, and since 2012, it has raised nearly $16,000 for the organization.

“It’s become a very good fundraiser for Timber Pointe,” said Merlin Anderson, a Bloomington runner and a member of the Lake Run Club. Anderson is the main organizer of ABC (Adventures Benefiting Children) Runs, which are informal, social runs followed by a potluck that raise money for various charitable organizations through donations from the runners.

Kevin McCarthy -- a Lake Run Club member as well as a triathlete and coach -- saw how successful the ABC Runs had become. In 2012, he suggested combining a multisport event with an ABC Run at Timber Pointe.

Blog PhotoMcCarthy has an event company that organizes the Tri-Shark triathlon at Comlara County Park in early June. He runs a 12-week beginner triathlete training program leading up to Tri-Shark, and he was looking for a way to allow triathletes to get open water swim practice before the race.

The Timber Pointe Outdoor Center is not usually open to the public.

“Good open water opportunities aren’t plentiful,” he said. “Timber Pointe has five to six miles of trails; it has water access. It’s a great venue for our local triathletes to get a great day of training, and to raise money for a great cause.”

McCarthy likes the social aspect that brings athletes together in a non-competitive environment. Anderson said some runners have expanded into triathlon, and some triathletes who started out as cyclists or swimmers have become members of the Lake Run Club.

The Lake Run Club and the Central Illinois Masters Swim Team cover the costs of the multisport event, including meat for the cookout and event insurance. All the donations go to Timber Pointe.

McCarthy said the event has been growing, and it attracts some athletes from Peoria, Decatur and Champaign-Urbana.

“There are plenty of people that come that are runners who want to do a run by the lake. There is a handful of people who want the opportunity to get into the lake. It’s an eclectic mix of people who want to help and who like the idea of being at that camp,” he said.

“We’re all doing this stuff anyway,” McCarthy said. “Why don’t we come do it together this weekend and throw some money in a bucket and give it away. Everyone wins.”


Jodi Heckel, a writer for the University of Illinois News Bureau, is a runner and triathlete. You can email her at jheckel@news-gazette.com, or follow her at twitter.com/jodiheckel. Her blog is at www.news-gazette.com/blogs/starting-line/.

 Photos: Top, Runners and cyclists participate in the Multi-Sport Training Day and ABC Run at Timber Pointe Outdoor Center on Lake Bloomington on Saturday. Bottom, Kevin McCarthy, front, participates in the bike portion of the multisport event at Lake Bloomington. Photos provided by Merlin Anderson 

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