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Indie Race Spotlight: Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Reposted from Slowtwitch

By Ryan Heisler

It’s tough out there for race directors these days. Expenses are up; competition is fierce; finding volunteers can be a full-time job (as evidenced by the still massive need for volunteers at even long-standing IM branded events).

And then there’s people like Jim Rainey and Robbie Morgan. They’re in process of building out a unique triathlon in the middle of Kentucky, which they’re calling the Wildman Triathlon Experience. The first-year race, to be held this coming September, will feature an Olympic and Half distance race, with a course taking you past bourbon distilleries and more in the rolling bluegrass hills of central Kentucky.

We chatted with the duo over email to talk through the process of creating a new race in 2024, and why you might consider taking a walk on the wild side this fall.

ST:Can you introduce yourselves? And what’s your experience in race production?

Jim: Jim Rainey with more than 25 years of triathlon participation, triathlon race directing and staging. Georgia Multisports Productions is an event management company specializing in triathlons. Founded this company in 2003 to produce top quality multisport events in the southeast. Georgia Multisports has produced and more than 200 triathlons in the past 20 years. Events include: Iron Girl Triathlon, USAT’s Collegiate National Championship for 2022 and 2023, West Point Lake Triathlon, Rock n’ Roll Man Half Ironman, Georgia Peach Women’s Only Triathlon, Lake Lanier Island Triathlon and Iron Kids Tris.

Robbie: I’m Robbie Morgan, the Director for Lawrenceburg, KY and a former duathlete and now sideline cheerleader for multisport racing. I also was responsible for bringing in the grant money to bring a new, high-level triathlon to Kentucky through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), hence the Wildman Triathlon.

ST: Alright, so Wildman — let’s tackle the name. Why Wildman?

Jim: That’s a great Robbie question.

Robbie: Lawrenceburg/Anderson County has the bragging rights of having the most Bigfoot sightings in the Commonwealth of Kentucky! Some of the sightings have been in the area of the race route, so it’s very possible our racers will spot the Wildman itself!

ST: Talk to us a little bit about the process of putting together a course. We see it on social, on forums — “why are courses XXX way?”:

Jim: A race like this has a number of challenges. The number one challenge is to get both bike and run course to mesh together for the half Iron and Olympic and finish at the same location.

Robbie: The unique features of the Bluegrass are world-renowned from the rolling hills, to the horses and the waterways–which of course, have the limestone that makes both our strong-boned thoroughbreds to our bourbon, and now, top triathletes.

ST: So what did it take to get this course pulled together?

Jim: A lot of time studying maps and just plain old road work. And as always working with the local permitting agency to make sure the course complies with their local requirements.

Robbie: To a similar point, it’s getting out and making sure the roads are safe, clean, secure but also we have the opportunity to make the course stunningly beautiful, challenging and fun!

ST: Launching a new race in 2024 is a sizable undertaking. What’s been your biggest challenge so far?

Jim: Launching a race is always a challenge, but in the long course arena, it’s overcoming the idea that only IM is the only group that can produce a quality long course race. Second is pulling all the elements together: volunteers, courses, permitting, and working out logistics set-up for race week. But I have a great crew that has been with me for years and know how to hit the ground running.

Robbie: One of our goals in hosting this kind of event is also educating locals about creating safer roadways for cyclists and runners overall (dogs, cars, etc.). One of our core mission points is to also expose young people and community members to the possibility that multisport offers as far as health, community and well-being. We want to start to build a culture of more cyclists and runners and be a welcoming place for cyclists, swimmers and runners even if they never race in the Wildman. So it is part of our challenge, and presents great opportunity.

ST: What makes this race something Slowtwitchers should consider adding to their race calendar this year?

Jim: Slowtwitch readers are dedicated triathletes, not your bucket list athlete or one and done triathletes and the Wildman Tri wants to be known as a first-class quality event that will be around for years.

Robbie: In addition, the area offers families and friends SO much to do. There are so few races that focus on the support teams of the athletes and make sure they enjoy the race as much as the racer does. Lawrenceburg and central Kentucky have activities and attractions, folk lore and cultural amenities of all kinds. Bourbon, horses, dirt track racing, mountain biking, the largest cave system in the world, Red River Gorge, the list goes on and on for what’s to do in the region.

ST: For those who are interested, how do you get to Lawrenceburg?

Robbie: There are three airports located right nearby. We are centrally located between Louisville (45 minute from airport), Lexington (20 min from the airport) and Cincinnati (1 hour). Plus we are right on the I-64, I-75, or Bluegrass Parkway. You can drive here in 6 hours from Chicago, 3 from Nashville, 6 from Atlanta).

ST: Anything else Slowtwitchers should know?

Jim: Wildman is a race by triathletes, for triathletes. And the courses are some of the most scenic I have been involved with in the years I have been in this business.

Robbie: A race by triathletes for triathletes and for people who want great travel experiences racing or not.

The Wildman Triathlon Experience takes place on September 21st, 2024 in Lawrenceburg, KY. Find out more information or register for the race here.