The story of the inaugural McKenzie Medical Center Dixie Triathlon, presented by The Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center, is inherently tied to the Carroll County Thousand Acre Recreation Lake. The latter's journey started ages ago in the mind of longtime Huntingdon mayor Dale R. Kelley.
Kelley, the figurehead of Carroll County's seat for more than 25 years, was instrumental in the planning and initiation of the county's aquatic gem. Though it officially opened to boating and fishing in spring 2013, Kelley had been laying the groundwork since his early days in office.
A massive man-made body of water intended to boost both economic development and qualify of life in the area, the Thousand Acre Lake will host the McKenzie Medical Center Dixie Triathlon's first swim on Sept. 15. The race joins other major events at the lake this year like the Bassmaster Junior Championships and High School Championships.
"The aesthetics of a community have a major impact upon how people view a community," Kelley said. "Certainly that's one of the things we've concentrated on in the last several years and we've made major progress with ventures like the Dixie Triathlon.
"I couldn't be more pleased in where we find ourselves today. A triathlon fits in with what we've envisioned over the years. It will bring a lot of people to our community to see what we have here – not just the lake but as a community."
A small group of businesspeople and visionaries began meeting more than a year ago to mine another community event from Carroll County's latest resource. The committee is responsible for organizing and establishing the first McKenzie Medical Center Dixie Triathlon.
The group's goal is to create a unique and memorable experience on race day for both natives and those visiting Huntingdon and Carroll County for the first time, said Brock Martin, a local business owner and committee member.
"As a triathlete myself, I live for the experience. I feel like the Dixie Triathlon is a race that's going to have the experience, the course and also the feel of something special and unique," Martin explained. "That's exactly what Huntingdon and Carroll County is: a different vibe and a different community."
Part of that atmosphere will come from the community involvement, said Lori Neal Nolen, executive director of Huntingdon's Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center. Whether that's the volunteers out on the lake and locally prepared food on race day, the hand-made signs marking the course route or the participant medals crafted in the Dixie PAC's Mudslingers Pottery Studio, every facet of the race will have a local community feel.
"The Dixie Triathlon will be a total county-involved event where we're going to really unite all these different partners within our community," Nolen said. "All the smaller municipalities that are here, I think everybody here really feels that energy and wants to be involved."
The McKenzie Medical Center Dixie Triathlon, presented by the Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center, will hold its inaugural race on Sept. 15 in and around the Huntingdon area in scenic Carroll County. The West Tennessee race features both Sprint and Olympic distances and will begin along the banks of the Thousand Acre Lake before winding its way into Huntingdon, around the Carroll County Courthouse and returning on rural roads to the banks of the lake.
Registration is still open for the McKenzie Medical Center Dixie Triathlon, presented by The Dixie Carter Performing Arts Center. For more information or to join the race, click HERE.
Routes subject to change
The swim will take place in the scenic Cumberland River, maximizing down stream and paths of least resistance. This section of the river has very little current so swim times will be fast.
The bike is set up to be fast. Sprint participants will ride out Hwy 12 to the Davidson County line and back, with Olympic participants making 2 loops.
The run takes you out to the Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail where you'll be surrounded by the sounds of nature and color of wildflowers. The Bicentennial Trail is flat and shaded, making it an ideal course for the run.