The first annual Unofficial Bob-O's Bandit Biathlon was a fun, well-organized event attended by several of the best multisports athletes who either currently reside in or formerly resided on the South Jersey shore. The swim-run covered distances of just about a mile in the ocean and just about a four mile run on the Ocean City beach. The swim started at 40th street and went North to 34th street, while the run went from 34th street to 50th street and back.
For almost twenty years, the Ocean City Beach Patrol has hosted the Annual Ocean City Biathlon the weekend following July 4th. The event typically drew a crowd of 200 to 400 people and was a well-respected stop on the New Jersey racing circuit. This year, citing a lack of volunteer participation and the event's money-making ability, the beach patrol decided to cancel the race.
But where there's a will, there's a way, as Bob and Bill Pugh of 34th Street could tell you. Bob spread the word while Bill manned the escort craft, and soon, the event was alive again. A new generation of Tortuga Golden Striders manned the finish line and cheered our names as we each approached, then crossed the line.
Lance Muzslay, a world-class Ironman triathlete, flew in from Arizona for the weekend, while I (a not-so-shabby sprint-focused triathlete) also came up from Orlando, FL. We knew ahead of time that the event had been relegated to the racing graveyard, but were pleasantly surprised to discover it had been given CPR of a sort.
The Pugh family has been a primary sponsor of the original event since its inception, and they chose to continue with an unofficial event on their own terms, not in defiance of the beach patrol, but in the interest of keeping a long-standing, traditional racing event alive. For years, former members of the OCBP have returned to Ocean City for one night of racing and camaraderie - at the Biathlon.
I'm happy to report that the tradition continues.
It was a great day. There were many smiles, words of encouragement, and even some competitive fire. After we all finished, beer and pizza were to be had back at the Tortuga headquarters. Old stories were rehashed, while new stories were in the making.
So if you're in the Tri-state area, and you're wondering what event you should attend the weekend after July 4th weekend since they cancelled the Ocean City Biathlon -
Saturday at 6pm, we'll be there.
Marty Gaal, Orlando, FL 37:57
Lance Muzslay, Phoenix, AZ, 39:29
Fred Klevan, Ocean City, NJ, 41:46
Name and Address Withheld, 42:10
Bob Pugh, Philadelphia, PA, 42:46
Mike Munger, Philadelphia, PA, 44:00
Name and Address Withheld, DNF
Brianne Harrington, Orlando, FL, Timekeeper