Running steady: Rotary Nutrithon brings out runners, cyclists to Kannapolis

  • Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2013 12:55 a.m.
Jeff Gaura, left, of Monroe, and Karen Wandel, of Cornelius, saddle up for the cycling leg of the Kannapolis Rotary Nutrithon. The charity race drew a total of 185 competitors for three running and cycling events Saturday morning.
Jeff Gaura, left, of Monroe, and Karen Wandel, of Cornelius, saddle up for the cycling leg of the Kannapolis Rotary Nutrithon. The charity race drew a total of 185 competitors for three running and cycling events Saturday morning.

KANNAPOLIS — The third annual Kannapolis Rotary Nutrithon looked awfully familiar in some respects.

Take the first-place finisher in the duathlon, for instance: Glen Thompson, of Cornelius.


Thompson, who competes in U.S. and international events, has been the top male finisher for three years running.

“It’s a cool local event, “ Thompson said. “It’s friendly, a laid-back event.”

This year, 185 men and women took part in the three Nutrithon events, 5K and 8K foot races and a duathlon.

That’s a smaller crowd than took part in last year’s Nutrithon events, said organizer Neal Boyd of Charlotte Sports Cycling.

At the same time, Boyd said there were more people in the duathlon, which consists of a 5K run followed by a 25K bicycle road course and a final 3K run.

This year’s Nutrithon also drew more first-timers, including one man who, at one time, might never have run again.

Scott Sandusky, of team Crossfit Crib, lost his right leg above the knee following a traumatic injury on the job in August 2012.

A year later, he’s got a prosthetic leg and a new goal: replacing his pre-injury sports with a new activity.

“I want to finish the distance,” Sandusky said, as he waited by the transition area for his teammate to finish the first run segment. Sandusky took the cycling leg of the relay for his team.

Competitors said the event offers a challenging but fun course, with a hilly ride through the country and a hard push for that last mile of running.

Thompson said the Nutrithon was part of his training regimen for the USA Triathlon 2013 Duathlon World Championship, coming up in October.

Boyd said involvement by Thompson and other upper-tier athletes is “a testament to the fact that this is a quality event.”

“That’s what this is about, more than anything,” Boyd said — giving athletes and fans a place to come together and enjoy their sport.

Fundraising goal

The Nutrithon also benefits a good cause.

William “Whit” Whitley, chair of the Kannapolis Rotary Club’s Nutrithon committee, said the three-year campaign has now raised over $72,000.

The charity race was established to help fund student housing at the N.C. Research Campus, which does not have a dormitory for visiting researchers.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has agreed to get involved in an effort to acquire property for that purpose, partnering with the club and other sponsors, Whitley said.

Whitley said they hope to reach the initial goal of $100,000 “next year, if not sooner.”

Kannapolis Rotary President Joe Trull said the event has been a success, bringing visitors to the city and helping raise awareness of health issues, as well.

Vendors and reps from a number of organizations and local businesses, including NCRC partners, were on hand with information for spectators and race participants.

“This has been an awesome event,” Trull said.

Martin Turner, of Huntersville, finished 10th overall. He said that this year’s Nutrithon — his second time in the Kannapolis duathlon — had much better conditions than last year.

The weather was nearly perfect, and not as humid, Turner said.

His secret to improving his performance this year?

“You can’t go too hard on the first run,” Turner said. “You’ve got to save something for the bike.”

“It’s a short race, but there’s some good athletes out there,” Turner said.

Karen Wandel, of Cornelius, was the second-place female finisher.

This was also her second time out at the Nutrithon duathlon, and she had a new bike for this year’s event.

“It’s a hilly course, but it’s fun,” said Wandel, who was also using it as a training event. She said she plans to race in the Beach to Battleship half-Ironman next month.

One of the younger competitors in the 5K was Bethann Miller, age 10.

She said she was inspired by her mother, who also ran competitively.

Miller said she wanted to be in the 5K “to start exercising, and just to do it.”

She wants to continue racing competitively — “Definitely!” Miller said.

All told, there were two racers under 25 in the duathlon and a total of 16 in the concurrent 5K and 8K foot races — seven of them aged 12 or under, and the youngest of them 9-year-old Alli Flannery, who ran with Shawn Flannery, of Matthews. They averaged a 9 minute, 11 second mile.

With involvement from youth and seasoned athletes, organizers said they expect the Nutrithon to continue for years.

And even after the fundraising goal has been met, Whitley said, the Nutrithon event will continue with a new charitable project as its goal.

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.

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