Husband and wife coordinate triathlon in Florence - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Husband and wife coordinate triathlon in Florence

The swimming portion of the race was held at McFarland Park. (Source: Facebook) The swimming portion of the race was held at McFarland Park. (Source: Facebook)
UNA students volunteered at the triathlon. (Source: Viewer Nick Lang) UNA students volunteered at the triathlon. (Source: Viewer Nick Lang)
FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) - This year marked the first year for a new triathlon to be held in Florence.

Husband and wife duo Bradley and Jordyn Dean organized The Renaissance Man Triathlon for the Shoals area.

“This was a passion project of my husband’s,” said Dean. “He has competed in several triathlons and has always wondered why Florence didn’t have one. So, we just collaborated with the city and did it.”

The Deans said they had a lot of help and support from Florence police, Florence and Lauderdale Tourism and The University of North Alabama. Businesses like Listerhill Credit Union, Fleet Feet Sports, Rivertown Coffee, City Hardware, Papa John’s and several more sponsored the event.There were about 185 competitors and about 90 student and community volunteers, according to Dean.

Competitor Chris Bobo said the course was definitely challenging but also very scenic and pretty.

"I trained for a month on my bike and I do CrossFit and swim regularly," said Bobo. "The training definitely helped me with my endurance."

Bobo said the Deans did a great job with the event and that it is another great event that makes Florence special.

"People come here from out of town and see how cool Florence really is," Bobo said. "There were a ton of runners from out of town so it pulled in a lot of people."

Dean said they actually had more out of town participants than locals. There were competitors from all over the southeast.

“I think it was a big success,” Dean said. “We learned a lot and got positive feedback from the competitors. They absolutely loved the courses.”

The Deans wanted to integrate UNA as much as possible because Bradley is a UNA graduate and they knew UNA students would be great volunteers.

“We wanted the competitors to be greeted by a great group of people from the community, and we knew UNA students would be the ones for the job,” Dean said.

Bethany Oliver, Coordinator of Leadership and Volunteerism at The University of North Alabama, put student worker and recipient of the Contribution to Campus Life Scholarship, Nick Lang, in charge of the UNA portion of the triathlon.

“I was basically in charge of integrating UNA and its campus and students into the event,” said Lang.

Lang recruited 26 volunteers from various student organizations, including several Greek chapters, to help out with the running portion of the competition.

“Bradley and Jordyn wanted to use UNA for the running portion because runs usually take place on backroads, not college campuses,” Lang said. “It was a great way to promote the campus and the Florence area.”

Lang said the triathlon was great for improving tourism in the area and admissions for the school since most of the runners would have kids heading to college soon.

Student volunteer Gavin Hall stood along different checkpoints on campus to direct and encourage participants during the running portion.

“I could tell the runners really appreciated it,” said Hall. “They were all very nice, and there were runners from all around the southeast...places like Georgia Tech, The University of Alabama... it was great to put Florence and UNA out there for people who may not have known about us.”

Hall said it was a great showcase of UNA and Florence and he looks forward to helping out next year.

The swimming portion of the triathlon took place in the Tennessee River at McFarland Park, the biking portion took place throughout the downtown area and the running route went through downtown Florence and the UNA campus.

“This year we broke even, but as the event continues to improve, we hope to give the money we raise to charity,” Dean said.

The winner of the first Renaissance Man Triathlon was Chris Borden. 

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