Rec Center hosts Quadrathalon

BY JON FRANK | FEBRUARY 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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Contestants jostled for speed rather than position on stationary rowing machines in the center of the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center on Sunday. The rowing machines sat in the center of the bustling facility in which recreation-center members lifted weights or climbed the mammoth rock wall which stood just feet from the rowing machines.

The inaugural Tropical Indoor Quadrathalon, designed and overseen by Recreational Services graduate student Thom Rieck, tested participants in four fields - swimming, rowing, running, and tossing bean bags.

More than 30 people attended the event, which was open to anybody interested regardless of recreation membership, age, or physical fitness.

“I was not used to competing,” said Duncan Mackie, a UI Ph.D. student. “It’s been a while.”

Mackie, 28, used Sunday’s event as a platform to gauge his health and to help him prepare for future competitions.

The first three events — swimming, rowing, and running — were monitored by time rather than distance. Because of space limitations and the high probability of competitors dealing with adverse weather conditions, Rieck’s quadrathalon took place indoors, unlike traditional triathlons.

“In a normal triathlon, you’ve got swim, run, and bike,” Rieck, 25, said. “We don’t have enough bikes, so that’s why we had to do rowers.”

The Waseca, Minn., native spent the last five months organizing the event. To promote awareness, he made fliers, posted notifications on several websites such as www.trifind.com, and personally invited strangers and acquaintances to sign up for the event.

Focused on introducing inexperienced athletes to triathlons, the quadrathalon requires speed rather than endurance. Triathlons require athletes to travel great distances over an extended period of time, sometimes upwards of 30 miles.

“Anyone can participate in [this event], from the hard-core athlete to the individual who’s just getting started,” said Pat Kutcher, Recreational Services’ associate director of fitness programs.

Participants ranged from adults in their lower 20s to people in their 50s.

“I’ve never done a triathlon,” said graduate student Farrah Steinke. “I didn’t have to train for years to get up to like a real triathlon level.”

Steinke, 22, played tennis during her time as an undergraduate, and she is involved with several other athletic activities, such as spin class, which is offered by the university.

“I’ve always been an athlete,” she said. “This might be kind of a gateway for me [into pursuing triathlons].”

Rieck said that he considered the event a success and was pleased with the number of people who attended on Sunday.

“You kind of have no idea what people are thinking about,” he said. “I was a little surprised we didn’t have more college-age people.”

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