By: Rebecca Cope
At 10am on September 12th, the blast of an airhorn signaled the start of the 15th Annual Neuse Riverkeeper Triathlon. Racers swam across the channel to Radio Island, where they mounted their bikes for a high speed tour of Beaufort’s historic downtown district, then completed the last leg of the race on foot, returning to the Marine Lab and a cheering crowd of spectators. The glory of crossing the finish line wasn’t the only motivation for these racers; they were also helping to raise about $2,500 to support a healthy Neuse River watershed.
From it’s headwaters in the Piedmont to where it flows into Pamlico Sound, the Neuse River supports a wide range of agricultural, industrial and recreational uses, and these uses have important impacts on our coastal communities and ecosystems. For over 30 years, the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation (NRF) has worked to protect, restore, and preserve the Neuse River watershed, and Duke’s TCS chapter is proud to be a long-term partner in their work. Travis Graves, the Riverkeeper himself, recently shared his thoughts about our ongoing partnership:
“For 15 years The Coastal Society’s Neuse Riverkeeper Triathlon has been bringing communities together to celebrate our most precious resource. The money they raise goes directly to support our work protecting the Lower Neuse River basin and all of the communities that depend on it for fishable, swimmable, drinkable water.”
At the Triathlon, members of the NRF volunteered their paddling
skills to help keep our swimmers safe in the water, as they do every year. Joining them were about 50 more volunteers who kept racers on track, recorded times, and made sure everyone was hydrated. Ashleigh McCord, a Master’s candidate at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment and returning Triathlon volunteer, said she saw the race as, “a chance to engage students, faculty, and community members … in supporting a local organization that does critical work in our local coastal watershed.”
Following the race, the festivities continued with a cook out and silent auction featuring prizes donated by local businesses. A brief bout of wind and rain did not deter people from sticking around to hear the race winners announced. Rachel Karasik, whose team placed 2nd, explained why she participated this year: “As a volunteer for the triathlon last year, I really enjoyed experiencing the camaraderie and celebration between racers, observers and volunteers… Everyone’s support and enthusiasm made me want to experience the triathlon from a different perspective.”
On behalf of the Duke TCS officers, I’d like to thank our racers, volunteers, and local business owners who helped make this year’s triathlon a huge success. This event wouldn’t be possible without your support and dedication to protecting our watershed. Travis Graves says he’s, “already looking forward to next years race!” We couldn’t agree more!