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TWU triathlon to be held Sunday

Over 300 competitors are expected when TWU  hosts its 11th annual Pioneer Power Sprint Triathlon and 5K on Sunday at the Denton Natatorium.

"I encourage everyone to come watch, and I think they'll quickly understand that there are people of many shapes and sizes that complete these on a regular basis. It's not an atmosphere of competition; it's an atmosphere of inclusion," TWU strength and conditioning coach Brett Crossland said. "Everyone is working toward the same goal, and it's a lot of fun."

The starting gun fires at 6:45 a.m. for the triathlon and 7:30 a.m. for the 5-kilometer race, which is open to both runners and walkers. The registration fee is $89, and competitors can register up until the morning of the event in person or online via Dallas Athletes Racing, which administers the race and provides equipment.

Racers can register as individuals or as part of a team.

The triathlon consists of a 250-yard swim, a 16-mile bike ride and a 5K. Between each activity, racers use a transition zone to quickly swap equipment.

In previous years the race was held on campus, but construction on Bell Avenue forced organizers to find a new venue for the start and finish lines.

The race benefits the school's soccer team, helping to pay for scholarships, equipment and trips to play schools in other states. Coach Babak Abouzar is the team's head coach and the organizer of the event.

"It really helps us in terms of travel, just being able to play other opponents within our region," Abouzar said. "The last three years, we've been fortunate enough to go to Colorado to play games against some quality opponents."

Abouzar said aside from the 300 participants expected to compete in the triathlon about 100 more participate in the 5K event. Abouzar said he's glad to provide local residents with a fun activity each year.

"It's something that many different people from different demographics do that we can provide a good service for," Abouzar said. "We added the 5K component for people who might not be familiar with triathlons so that they can participate to help our cause."

Crossland is competing for the third time. He said the combination of three different sports offers a unique challenge.

"It's very quantifiable to see if you're getting faster or slower," Crossland said. "I like the community aspect of training with other people, and it's just the challenge."

Crossland said that while not everyone is fast, anyone can train and complete a triathlon.

"It's not as daunting as it looks on paper," Crossland said.

Competitors will receive a moisture-wicking shirt, performance socks and a pint glass. Individual and team awards will be presented during a post-race party featuring free food and drinks.