Chuck McAllister found a way to combine two of his passions into one of the most events ever held at the Trump National Golf Club Charlotte.
The Tri at the Trump is a USA Triathlon-sanctioned “sprint” triathlon, composed of a 750-meter swim in Lake Norman, a 13.25-mile bicycle race and a 5-kilometer run, ending in front of Trump National’s greenway.
“We’re just trying to take baby steps,” said McAllister, 51, who has been a triathlete for 10 years. “First of all, I’ve never done anything of this nature before, and I’ve had no book to talk me through. So everything I’ve done has been done off the cuff.
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“It’s come around fantastically. I can’t believe how blessed I am, and how this has taken off. I couldn’t have envisioned last August when I talked to Gavin Arsenault, the general manager, and asked about the opportunity to do this.”
When McAllister – who moved to the adjacent The Point community five years ago, and is a Trump National member – took the idea of the triathlon to Trump National, he expected reluctance at best, an outright “no” at worst.
Instead, McAllister said that pretty much any request he’s made to the management at Trump National or its owners, the Trump Organization, has been accepted.
For example, the path between the end of the swimming leg and the staging area for the bicycle leg will run through Trump National’s lakeside ballroom.
“We’ll have a photographer there, getting photos of the triathletes running underneath the chandeliers,” McAllister said. “It’s going to be pretty cool. It’s a little gadgety, but it’s different.
“It’s the first time something like this has ever been done in a triathlon. I’m surprised the Trumps are letting us do this, but they are.”
Proceeds from the Tri at the Trump, which has the Dale Jr. Foundation founded by NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. as its presenting sponsor, will benefit three area organizations.
The primary benefactor will be the Charlotte chapter of the Pinky Swear Foundation, which helps the families of children being treated for cancer with nonmedical needs. Also benefiting from the triathlon will be SwimMAC Carolina, which is raising funds to build an Olympic-size swimming training facility at LangTree at the Lake; and Ace and TJ’s Grin Kids.
It’s the connection with the Pinky Swear Foundation that led to the first race of the Tri at the Trump weekend – the youth triathlon on May 16, the day before the main event.
The Pinky Swear Foundation Youth Triathlon is modeled after a similar race conducted by the foundation in Minneapolis, Minn., that has become the nation’s biggest youth event.
“Once we established they were going to be the beneficiary of the Tri at the Trump, they came back to me about the kids triathlon,” McAllister said. “They asked ‘Would you maybe have an interest in doing that as well?’
“Long story short, in about 48 hours, the Trump organization and the golf club agreed to not only do the Sunday event, but do the kids triathlon on Saturday as well.”
Even before the first event has been held, McAllister is thinking about next year’s Tri at the Trump.
“We’ve already got our dates for 2016,” McAllister said. “We do want to grow it.
“The Trumps want to make sure, more than anything, that it’s a success, an over-the-top success. The whole weekend is going to be over the top.”
Bill Kiser is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Bill? Email him at email@example.com.
Tri at the Trump schedule
Friday, May 15
▪ 6-9 p.m. – Welcome party at Trump Square.
Saturday, May 16
▪ 1:30-2:30 p.m. – Pinky Swear Youth Triathlon registration and packet pickup at Trump Square.
▪ 3 p.m. – Pinky Swear Youth Triathlon and Kids Bike Rodeo Expo.
▪ 6-8 p.m. – Tri at the Trump registration and packet picket at Trump Square.
Sunday, May 17
▪ 6-7:30 a.m. – Tri at the Trump registration and packet pickup at Trump Square.
▪ 8 a.m. – Tri at the Trump sprint triathlon.
▪ 10 a.m. – Trump Tri Festival and awards ceremony.