HUNTERSVILLE – They’re coming to swim, bike and run fast.  Or, as fast as their arms and legs will take them to finish the course.

And, entrants – capped at 500 for this event - can’t lag in the 500-yard swim, 20K bike ride or 5K run because they must finish the Huntersville Sprint Triathlon 2013 course under 2 1/2 hours.

Event officials have the authority to pull participants off the course if it appears they won’t finish in the designated time.

While most of the competitors are from Lake Norman and Charlotte areas, a few are coming from Syracuse, New York City, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and the District of Columbia.

Their goal is to compete, but in doing so, athletes will raise money for the charities of Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatics, sponsor of Sunday's event. The minimum age for participation is 10 years old. 

The April 28 event will begin at 8 a.m. at HFFA, 11725 Verhoff Road in Huntersville. Check in for participants will begin at 6 a.m. The registration deadline for this event is 8 a.m. April 25.

According to HFFA executive director Dee Jetton, the triathlon is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for the East Huntersville Revitalization Organization, a local group designed to help the east Huntersville community prosper.

The route of the triathlon, sanctioned by USA Triathlon and the fourth event of the AAA Car Care North Carolina Triathlon Series, goes through east Huntersville.

“Lots of people don’t realize it’s very easy for that neighborhood to disappear with all the growth around them,” Jetton said in an interview earlier this year. “The revitalization organization needs more awareness about unemployment, healthcare and job training in East Huntersville.”

Area triathlons have also benefited business, she continued.

“If you look at the bike shops we have in the area, they’ve grown,” Jetton said. “It’s been helpful to our business community. More people are buying running shoes and biking equipment because they see the value in being active. It’s good for our local economy.”

Nationally, triathlon participation continues to grow, a trend that appears to be following in North Carolina and the Lake Norman area.

According to a June 2012 USA Triathlon report, the number of USAT members grew from 15,194 in 1994 to 29,886 by 2001. Their 2012 membership had reached the 155,000 mark halfway through last year.

Race categories:

Open – For Elite participants, typically the fastest people in the race and they compete on an Elite/Professional level.

Masters Open - Same as above, but these Elite participants are 40 and over.

Age Group - Participants competing in their age group.

Clydesdale – For male participants who are over 220 pounds.

Master Clydesdale – For male participants over 220 pounds and 40 or over.

Athena – For women over 165 pounds.

Novice – For beginners. Participants competing as a Novice usually do less than three events.

Master Novice – Beginners who are 40 or over.

Mixed Relay Team - A relay team consists of all male and/or female members.

Assisted Athlete (AA) - Persons without the ability to propel themselves through the course. (These participants will have one driver and one safety (acts as a guardian).

Events:

Swim – A 500-yard race in the HFFA pool. The aquatic center is set up with a 50-meter pool using 20 lanes.

Bike:  The 20K course is a one-loop design and is described as moderately hilly. The roads are mostly two-lane and will be open to vehicular traffic, but should be relatively light on race morning. The western half of this course will be familiar to participants who race in the Tri Latta Triathlon.

Run: The 5K is an out and back run on roads.

Weather: In the event of inclement weather, the triathlon will be postponed until 8:45 a.m. in hopes the bad weather will pass. If inclement weather does not pass by 8:45 a.m. the event will be changed to a duathlon format.

Should this event be cancelled due for circumstances beyond the race directors’ control, there will be no refunds, credits or transfers.