The roadways on the outskirts of town will be packed this Saturday – not with automobile traffic but with athletes competing in the city’s 12th annual Prairie Punisher Duathlon and 5K runs.
The duathlon is a 5K run, followed by a 34.5K bike race and concluding with another 5K run. In conjunction with the duathlon will be two 5K events – a walk and a run.
Matt McClure, Gardner recreation superintendent, said the city is still taking registrants for the events at city hall. And, he said, city hall will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, July 19 in order to take final registration. Event planners are still seeking volunteers as well.
“It seems you can never have too many volunteers for an event,” McClure said.
McClure anticipates about 150 athletes will compete in the events. While most of the participants in the challenging duathlon will be serious athletes, McClure said there will be a diverse mix of ability levels.
“There are some people who it’s their first duathlon,” McClure said. “It’s really a unique crowd, but it really kind of motivates you to start working out.”
Last year’s duathlon winner completed the 5K run, 34.5K bike ride, and second 5K run in one hour and 33 minutes. The fastest 5K time was 15 minutes and 33 seconds. McClure said those times shouldn’t intimidate potential participants, however. The final racer crossed the duathlon finish line in two hours and 50 minutes.
McClure says the competition draws visitors from all over the state. It also shutters area roads.
Kill Creek Road will be closed to through traffic beginning at 6 a.m. on July 20, and volunteers will be stationed at various intersections along the Punisher route to ensure racers are safe as they plow through the streets of Gardner and the county.
McClure anticipates final runners will cross the finish line by 10:30 a.m., and Kill Creek will be re-opened to through traffic at that time.
The race kicks off at 7 a.m. on Saturday, July 20 at Celebration Park, and registration to participate at the event is ongoing at city hall through 7 p.m. on Friday, July 19. McClure and parks and recreation staff are also still seeking volunteers.