By Steve Swogetinsky

Kemper County Messenger

Taking care of the details is an important part of the annual Heart O’ Dixie Triathlon, and a key reason why it has continued for 38 years.

On race day (July 22) all attention is focused on starting the race, getting the race competed, and the awards ceremony. Nearly a year’s worth of work and planning comes together in five or six hours.

If you go back and look, many small tasks and details make the Heart O’ Dixie what it is. And one popular item that competitors enjoy every year is the swag bags they receive before the start of the triathlon. In them is a competitor’s t-shirt and athletic bag along with small gifts. Those gifts change from year to year, said race director B.J. Morrow,

 “Right now we are deciding what we are going to do this year,” Morrow said. “Usually it is different types of runners gear.

“On an average, we spent around $25 per competitor for the bags. That’s just part of our expenses. It’s not cheap to participate in the Heart O’ Dixie and we want to give them something back.”

Registration starts at $70 per person for those who register early. As time goes by, it goes up to $80 and is now it is $90 until July 21, the night before the race. There is no race day registration.

The Heart O’ Dixie is a fund-raising project of the Philadelphia Sertoma Club. All of the money it raises goes back into the community.

At this point, around 125 to 130 people have registered for this year’s Heart O’ Dixie. Usually, 230 or more sign up to compete.

 “I have checked other triathlons in the area and their numbers have been down,” Morrow said. “I don’t know. Our numbers may be a little down this year but we are going to the best one we can. If our numbers are down, we’ll have less money to put into the community. But we’ll see.”

For more information, please see the Heart O’ Dixie website.