The annual Sparke Helmore NBN Triathlon Festival, which provides vital research grant funding and sponsorship for the HMRI Award for Research Excellence, is poised for its biggest ever year in 2012.
With an expanded and diversified event format, and elite competitors set to take part, the Hunter’s most strongly contested triathlon is going from strength to strength.
More than 2000 athletes competed in 2011 and this year the organisers have the magic number of 3500 in their sights for the three-day Festival staged from March 16-18.
Over the course of its 19-year history the charitable arm of the Festival has raised over $380,000 in donated funds for the Hunter Medical Research Institute, with last year’s event earning over $40,000 in donations.
“The event is a real celebration of community participation in sports and we look forward to welcoming everyone to Newcastle for this great event,” Race Director Paul Humphreys said. “With such a diverse race selection there is truly a race for every fitness level.”
The new format is set to include both fierce and friendly competition. Non-competitive children’s races and walk options will encourage greater participation. There’s one entirely new race and two races from past festivals brought back by popular demand.
The Foreshore5 Twilight 5km run/walk event will be held on the Friday evening. Saturday morning will see the start of the TriJunior Triathlon for 7-13 year olds. It’s then time for adults to don their speedos for the 1200m Wharf to Waves Harbour Swim.
Sunday is set aside for the Sparke Helmore NBN Triathlon, with both long and short courses and relay team options.
Changes have been made to the event’s main compound to improve the logistics. The race compound, Sports Expo and finish area are set to move across the road to Shortland Lawns from the former location at Camp Shortland.
The bike compound will now occupy the former finish space at Camp Shortland (opposite NobbysBeach).
All bike courses will pass through iconic King Edward Park, allowing multiple viewing points for spectators throughout the three legs of the main race. Wharf Road will no longer be part of the cycle course and will instead cater specifically to runners and spectators.
For more information and online entry go to www.sparkenbntriathlon.com.au
HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.