By Ron Callari
Beaufort might be a small town, but it’s definitely put itself on the map with some very prominent and sizable events. This year alone, the Beaufort Film Festival honored Paul Sorvino and the Water Festival welcomed back American Idol winner Candace Glover. There’s the Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens, the Harvest Festival in Habersham, the Gullah Festival, The Shrimp Festival, The Taste of Beaufort and Light Up The Night & Christmas Parade.
On the sports side of the equation, there’s the Twilight Run in Habersham. The annual Dragonboat Beaufort race attracts volunteer teams that successfully combine fundraising with sportsmanship. The Water Festival is jam-packed filled with competition as well, offering a raft race, a water-ski show and a bocce tournament. Heck, there’s even a Bed Race, now in its 64thyear.
The Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) assists in the planning of the Bi-Annual Air Show that will return to the Marine Air Corp Station (MCAS) April 27- 28. This event is one of the largest Beaufort has to offer, attracting over 100,000 visitors from all over the country.
However, MCCS is also instrumental in the Parris Island Sprint Triathlon that took place Saturday, March 9.
Did you attend? Most likely not. That event is designed mainly for the registrants, which this year numbered 413 able-bodied “triathletes,” from novice to seasoned professionals. While the venue is Parris Island, less than 40 Marines signed up for the competition. The only spectators who were allowed onto the Marine Corp Depot were those who accompanied the athletes in the same car. Media were stopped at the gate to show their media credentials to enter the base.
In fact, this race might be the least attended event in Beaufort.
However, that didn’t deter the enthusiasm and camaraderie from both the participants and their closest friends and family members. MCCS Sports & Athletics Director Bill Brown said in the 21 years of this triathlon, the 2019 event was the fastest in its history. The top finisher, 23-year-old John Kremar of Mooresville, N.C., completed the three tracks in 55 minutes, 55.9 seconds. As a sanctioned United States of America Triathlon (USAT), the race included a 500-meter swim, a 10-mile bike race and a 5K run.
Parris Island is one of several in the South Carolina Triathlon Series season. The next is the Tri The Midlands Sprint Triathlon in Columbia.
In Beaufort, triathletes from all over the nation were invited, and Brown noted a Minnesotan made the longest journey to Beaufort. While the race was broken down into more than a dozen categories, according to age and weight, the top male awards in the open division went to Alex Hutton (Charleston, SC), Brad Sanders (Mount Pleasant, SC), and Jason McCormack (Charleston, SC) in first, second and third place. The top open female awards were given to Kayla Edwards (Charleston, SC), Angela Shiver (Savannah, GA) and Katie Malone (Landrum, SC).
From a human-interest perspective, triathlete Patty D’Anna’s trek to this event was one of merit and fortitude, which tugged at the heartstrings. After racing in major events for 15 years, she was sidelined by a car accident in 2018. She incurred a severe leg injury that might have ended her career. However, with the USAT season fast approaching, D’Anna was determined to overcome her physical determent to register and participate in this year’s triathlon. Her eight-month recuperation period incorporated an intense athletic training schedule. With her eye on the prize, and the empathetic support from her husband, children and grandchild, D’Anna was primed to swim, bike and race her heart out. With a slogan labeled on her family’s tee shirts: “Patty Pedal On,“ D’Anna received a boisterous accolade arriving at that finish line.
Kudos to her and all the winners and participants in this year’s Parris Island Sprint Triathlon. It’s time you received some public acknowledgment … and yes, some well-deserved publicity.