The University of Texas-Pan American's campus was a little busier than usual with people running, biking and swimming as the First Triathlon for Education got under way Oct. 21.
UTPA teamed up with Team McAllen Cycling (TMC) to host the triathlon that included a 400-yard swim at the UTPA Fieldhouse indoor pool, an 11-mile bike ride through the city of Edinburg and a two-mile run on the University's covered walkway.
Age was not a factor for the 182 participants who took part in the multi-stage competition. The youngest triathlete was 8 years old and the oldest contestant was 70.
Irma Hermida, administrative coordinator for the Office of Information Technology, and a coordinator for the event, said the organizers were amazed by the turnout.
"It was so exciting. We had over 100 volunteers and 200 spectators on campus and it was just an incredible sight to see all the action in the swimming pool and the crowd cheering," Hermida said.
Organizers say the triathlon is a great source of general strength conditioning. Daniel Moron Rodriguez won the male overall individual division while Maria Guzman Rodriguez took the female division.
Michael Adame and Karen Watt took the top spots in the over 40 master's competition. Awards were also handed out for first, second and third place in individual age categories and in the team relay division.
"It was a huge success. We were overwhelmed and very grateful for the outpouring of support," Hermida said. "We had so many UTPA groups, law enforcement officers, students and volunteers in the community who helped us out."
All proceeds from the triathlon went to the TMC Scholarship Fund benefitting UTPA students. Five scholarships of $500 each will be distributed yearly. Students from any of the University's seven colleges are eligible to apply for the scholarships.
Yvette Padilla, UTPA director of stewardship and annual giving, said the funds will make a tremendous impact.
"Gifts to UT Pan American through the Annual Fund or a gift of scholarship support is a great way to have your contribution directly affect the life of a deserving student," Padilla said. "By participating and sponsoring the Triathlon for Education at UT Pan American, alumni and friends have casted their vote of confidence in the vision and direction of the present administration to continue the standard of excellence of UTPA."
Hermida said the UTPA and TMC partnership was so successful that they are already planning and preparing for the next triathlon.
"Based on the success of the competition, we definitely want to grow the event. Everybody is happy and excited and we have so many athletes who are already asking when the next triathlon will be," she said. "They want to save the date and it's just a great event because all the money stays here in our community."
More than 20 sponsors, including Matt's Cash & Carry and the UTPA Alumni Association, pitched in to support the triathlon.
For more information on how to give or get involved with The University of Texas-Pan American, contact UTPA's Office of Development at (956) 665-5301.
See more of the triathlon in this photo gallery.