Olympiad XVIII: Charity sports festival roars back to life

By Bob Keith

Remarkable weather greeted over 500 athletes for the 18th year of the Lake Lure Olympiad Charity Sports Festival. Temperatures, humidity and the afternoon thunderstorms of the prior weeks in late July and early August were refreshingly down providing a spectacular venue for our weekend warriors, spectators, guests and volunteers. There was a renewed excitement in the air after two years of debilitating and restrictive COVID disruption.

Friday night kicked off the weekend with a 10K run (6.2 miles) that started at Ingles Supermarket, proceeded north on route 9 to the Lakehouse Bar and Grill, then east on 64/74A to the Highlands Kitchen & Bar, then over the Lake Lure Dam, all along curvy Buffalo Shoals Road and finally on to the beach and finish line at Rumbling Bald. The run is a grueling test of one’s stamina and capabilities. Runners “Slam the Dam” in the “Best Dam Race” in Lake Lure.

130 10K runners competed. The female and male winners were Shelby and Wesley Gurley from Marion, who posted times of 39:54 and 40:37 respectively. Incredible! She out kicked him in the end demonstrating female domination in that family. (See photos). And by the way, it was truly a family affair with their 14-year-old son Gage competing and finishing with a time of 1:02:11. A great 10 minute mile pace. Congratulations to the Gurleys.

A couple of other 10K notables are shown in photos.

The festivities resumed Saturday morning with an 8am Triathlon Sprint. There were 379 competitors from 16 states and one foreign country. This event included a fun (for some) 750m swim, a punishing 22.3K  bike ride and a challenging 5K run. Our perennial winner, Adam Weeks from Huntersville, bested the field with a time of (swim – 13:11, bike – 38:23, run – 17:59) for a 1:12:28 (includes transition area time). Again, incredible, and I believe his personal best here in Lake Lure. Gretchen Roesel from Bozman, Maryland, was our first-place female with times of (swim – 13:12, bike – 1:09:18, run – 35:21) for an overall time of 2:01:38. Not only that but Gretchen came in 5th place overall. Absolutely outstanding! One final amazing TRI fact: we had the youngest relay team in Olympiad history from the Brock family of 10-year-old Oliva, 12-year-old Kaitlin and 14-year-old Ava. And equally special and impressive, the kids Mom did the TRI as well.

For those who have followed the Olympiad, we hope to bring back the “Race to the Rock” on the Sunday of Olympiad weekend at Chimney Rock State Park next year.

The Olympiad management team so appreciates the use of Rumbling Bald, its facilities and support of its staff. The participants, their families, spectators, and tourists love the venue and spending time here. We further could not run an event like this without the support of our four local fire departments, our Police and County EMS and Sheriff’s Department. Thanks to Fire Chief Dustin Waycaster for pulling together all these resources, plans and communications. Special thanks to the more than 100 volunteers. We couldn’t do this without your efforts.

And let us not forget our sponsors and all who donate fruit and homemade food for the athletes. We will cover sponsors, donors, the Jr. Olympiad and our charitable allocations in the fall issue of the Breeze.

Thanks again to all! It truly was a super, sunny, spectacular, successful weekend.

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