"I was quite winded after swimming 16 laps," the administrative associate in the Dean's Office of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services said of the athletic leg he performed for his team. "The triathlon interested me not only because the entrance fee goes toward scholarships, which is important for students at UT Pan American, but I also wanted to test my own ability to see how I'd do against other competitors."
Smith swam the 400 meters at UTPA's indoor pool, while one of his teammates - a UTPA student - biked the required 12 miles and the other teammate - College of Health Sciences and Human Services Dean Dr. John Ronnau - completed the two-mile run required in the competition. Although his mixed relay team didn't place in the top three, Smith said he plans to enter again, maybe next time to do the full triathlon himself.
"It was a lot of fun, there was a lot of camaraderie ... some of the experienced people were giving tips to some of the folks about breathing and strokes, it was fun," he said.
Smith was one of more than 150 participants in the triathlon, co-sponsored by Team McAllen Cycling (TMC), an amateur cycling team dedicated to organizing events to raise funds for local charities as well as to promoting cycling and raising awareness of its health benefits. All proceeds from the triathlon, which included competitors of all ages and experience levels, went toward the TMC Scholarship Fund. The fund provides five scholarships of $500 each distributed annually to UTPA students in any of the university's seven colleges.
Irma Hermida, an internal communications coordinator in UTPA's Office of Information Technology and a TMC member, and Travis Hughes, UTPA's director of Wellness and Recreational Sports, work together to coordinate the competition with the help of numerous UTPA and TMC volunteers. Hermida said the partnership between UTPA and TMC has been very successful, raising more than $15,000 since the event began as a duathlon in 2011.
"The event is a family event. This year we had the kids' triathlon start first. So when we did that the adults waiting in line said it was very inspiring to watch the kids go into the water first," she said. "We (TMC) do this for kids to inspire healthy lifestyles and to show everybody that there are no boundaries. Anybody can do this. We also help UTPA students."
The following sponsors provided support for this year's triathlon: Platinum - American Inn & Suites (Pharr) and H-E-B; Gold - Matt's Building Materials and Bert Ogden Subaru-Edinburg; Silver - UTPA Wellness & Recreational Sports Complex, City of Edinburg Police Department, Med-Life EMS, Texas Oncology - Dr. Alvaro Restrepo, and Lone Star National Bank; Bronze - Costa Messa, Physio Sports Therapy, Trevino & Herrera Real Estate Management, Wilkins Wilkins & Quintana Attorneys at Law, Title Boxing club, Rosalva Ruiz, Esaser Autoparts, Moringa Fields, and Highway Neon Signs; and In-Kind - Watermill Express and Starbucks.
Yvette Padilla, UTPA's director of Stewardship and Annual Giving, said the University relies on the generosity of loyal alumni, parents, friends and community organizations like Team McAllen Cycling to support the goals and needs of the University.
"The Team McAllen Cycling scholarship at UT Pan American is vital in order to build on UTPA's success," she said.
Go to the Triathlon for Education photo album at UTPA's Facebook to view photos of the competition. If you would like to learn more about supporting UTPA, contact the Development Office at (956) 665-5301.