Tucked neatly between a couple of triathlons sitting on his summer schedule, area multi-sport athlete Sean Robbins wasn’t certain he’d compete in this year’s Wilkes-Barre Duathlon.
Then a convincing concept struck him just as he began transporting bike racks into town for the event.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’ve been doing this for 10 years, picking up these bike racks,’ ” said Robbins, a 44-year-old Shavertown resident who is also a member of the Wilkes-Barre Duathlon committee. “I’ve done all nine.
“Why would you miss the 10th?”
The 10th annual Wilkes-Barre Duathlon begins at 7:30 a.m. Sunday from Public Square, continues through the Hanover Industrial Park and ends by 10 a.m. at the Public Square finish area.
That’s right, there are deadlines for finishing each stage of the USAT-sanctioned duathlon, which includes a 3-mile run, 16-mile bike and concludes with another 3-mile run. Competitors must finish the first run by 8:15 a.m., the bike by 9:15 a.m. and the concluding run by 10 a.m.
After eight years of steady top three finishes, Robbins finally won last year’s event in his ninth try with a time of 1:13.52 while Heidi Glovack won the women’s division in 1:27.47. Jeff Miller, a former nemesis of Robbins in the late 2000s, set the course record of 1:02.54 in 2010 while Kelly Ciravolo of Shavertown holds the women’s mark of 1:20.25 set in 2011.
That the event has lasted this long is both a surprise and a tribute to the race organizers.
“It’s pretty exciting to think it got to the 10th,” Robbins said. “The first one was nerve-wracking — you don’t know who’s going to participate. Now, everyone’s got kind of their routine. They know their role.”
The role of the race has always been to benefit the area’s youth fitness. It began as a joint effort by the Wilkes-Barre YMCA and the Jewish Community Center as a way to raise money for the Wilkes-Barre area’s youth organizations in 2004.
“We wanted it to be a multi-sport event,” Robbins said, “not just a 5K, for a couple different reasons. We wanted to get people involved in doing multi-sport events. And to start taking them in the direction so they maybe can try the (Wilkes-Barre) Triathlon someday.
“It’s a good opportunity for somebody who might be interested to get started.”
Interested runners and bikers can still get in on the fun.
The registration fees for the race are $65 for individual competitors and $100 for relay teams, but registration closes at 3 p.m. today at the Wilkes-Barre YMCA. Packet pickups will be held from 1-3 p.m. today at the Wilkes-Barre YMCA on Northampton Street and from 6:15-7 a.m. Sunday under the tent near the race’s starting point on Public Square.
Although race director Nicky Pachucki said the field has never gone higher than 200 participants, the race will be capped at 350 competitors to keep logistics manageable.
Participants are encouraged to arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to the race’s start.
“I’ve only won it once, we’ve gotten some good duathletes here who have performed really well,” Robbins said. “Each year it brings in money. And that money has gone to help kids’ programs.
“It’s been a success.”