University City

Duathlon offers opportunity for bikers, runners

This is more than just your local 5K event.

Chris Elkins, owner of Run for Your Life, and Shane Hockensmith, owner of Bike Line, are working with University City Partners to organize the first University City Duathlon on April 30.

The duathlon will consist of a 5K run and a 19K bike ride and will finish with a 3K run through the roads and greenways of University City's research park.

All proceeds will benefit the Workforce Initiative for Supportive Housing (WISH) Program, a nonprofit that works with local apartment complexes to find affordable housing for homeless families and provides learning and support services to help individuals get back on their feet.

Elkins and Hockensmith hope to encourage the community to challenge themselves and come together for a worthy cause.

"It's the outdoors and it's a very environmentally friendly event," said Hockensmith. "It's not like you are running down the middle of an asphalt street with concrete on both sides. It's a great safe place to ride your bike."

The duathlon is a multisport event where, unlike triathlons, participants don't have to swim. Usually, participants don't want to take the time to train and practice at the pool; instead, this duathlon is a run, bike, run event that complements bike and running customers, said Elkins.

"I can walk out of my front door right now and go for a bike ride or go for a run," said Hockensmith, who believes the duathlon will appeal to a wide range of people. "I can't go swimming. I have to go some place to do that, and that leaves out a lot of people."

After the duathlon, the annual Green Goats & Gardens Festival, sponsored by University City Partners and Environmental Way, will take place 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in the research park. The festival is a family-oriented, environmental-awareness event that celebrates the concept of green and sustainable living. There will be live music, activities for children, environmental displays and goats.

It's about bringing the community together and promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.

With two weeks until the duathlon, Elk and Hockensmith are rounding up volunteers, setting up meetings and promoting the event.

"One of the things that makes a great event is your volunteers and the enthusiasm that they have," said Hockensmith. "If you've ever been to a poorly run event, there isn't any volunteers there. Your participants don't know where to go and what they are doing."

For Elkins and Hockensmith, the research park in the University area has a lot to offer with access to 12 miles of greenways.

"I'm not sure that people in the University area are aware of the amenities here," said Hockensmith. "I think we have the best of a lot of things."

Elk and Hockensmith hope the duathlon will attract hundreds to the research park who have never seen the area before. Ultimately, they plan to make the duathlon an annual event with the support of the WISH Program, University City Partners and the community.