April 17, 2013

Spackman triathlon, boat regatta celebrations set

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A big birthday bash is coming to Southern Illinois University Carbondale as two popular events will return to campus on Saturday, April 27.

The day will mark the 40th annual Great Cardboard Boat Regatta and 30th annual Doc Spackman Memorial Triathlon.  The events will include cake, refreshments and special entertainment as the two longstanding traditions celebrate their longevity.

The triathlon and boat regatta are both family friendly events with no drugs or alcohol permitted.  Spectators are welcome and there is no cost to attend.  Bring your lunch or snacks and picnic beside the lake.

The day of water-focused fun begins with the triathlon sign-in from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m.   The 385-yard swim, five-mile bike and two-mile run kicks off at 8 a.m. at the campus boat dock.  Participants can compete individually, or in two- or three-person teams with each team member completing one or two legs of the race.  The event features a brand-new course this year.

The deadline to pre-register is 6 p.m., Thursday, April 25, at the Student Recreation Center administrative office.  The registration fee is $20 for individuals or $30 for teams.  The competition is limited to the first 25 teams and 300 individuals to register.  Participants may register on the day of the race, although the cost is $5 higher.

All ages are welcome.  Those younger than 18 must have a signed waiver from a parent.

Teams will compete in the junior or senior division, depending upon the combined ages of team members.  Teams with combined members’ ages of 104 or lower will be in the junior division, with teams whose ages total 105 or above will compete in the senior division.

The triathlon honors the late Robert “Doc” Spackman, a nationally known physical fitness expert and longtime SIU athletic trainer.  There are prizes for the top male and female overall winners, the top three finishers in individual age groups, and teams finishing highest in each team category.

Kathy Hollister, retired Recreational Sports and Services assistant director and Spackman Triathlon organizer, said it’s “wonderful” that two longstanding campus events are still celebrated annually. Several members and generations of Spackman’s family and relatives from Las Vegas, Denver, and Virginia plan to attend.

“I hope many alumni, past triathlon participants, and new triathletes take advantage of this family affair,” she said.

For more information, contact Brenda Winkeler at the Student Recreation Center at 618/453-1267 or by email at bwink@siu.edu.

The action continues at Campus Lake as Alpha Chi Sigma presents the Great Cardboard Boat Regatta at noon.  Started 40 years ago as a freshman art and design class project by Richard Archer, the race history includes more than 4,000 participants, an estimated more than one-half million visitors, and an international following.  More than 2,000 schools and organizations around the world have staged their own versions of the regatta, where only the human imagination limits the shapes, sizes and appearances of the cardboard boats.

For many years, Larry “Skip” Briggs and W. Larry Busch, now both retired professors in the School of Art and Design, coordinated the race. Alpha Chi Sigma, the campus professional chemistry fraternity, and faculty adviser Mary Kinsel stepped in in 2010 to keep the tradition going.

The goal is to finish the race in the shortest time without sinking.  The show goes on rain or shine.

Registration begins at 10 a.m. and the cost is $15 per boat.  There are three competition classes:  human-powered (Class I), mechanically powered (Class II) and instant boats (Class III).  Instant boats are those made that day from kits available at the regatta.  There is also a youth heat for participants under the age of 14.

Organizers will present a number of trophies and awards to participants at the conclusion of the cardboard craft race.  There will be prizes for the top three finishers, the most creative use of cardboard, and of course, the Titanic Award for the most spectacular sinking. 

Kinsel said building a boat and participating in the longtime race tradition at SIU is great fun for families, clubs, teams and organizations as well as for individuals.  She said she has already received entry commitments from local schools, youth organizations, and even a member of the U.S. military who will be home on leave from Kuwait.

To get started, participants may buy 7-foot by 8-foot cardboard sheets for $3 each from Alpha Chi Sigma at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the James W. Neckers Building.  Participants may contact Kinsel at 618/453-6428 to arrange a pick-up time for the materials, or use their own corrugated cardboard.  Those needing additional boat regatta information may contact Kinsel or email cardboardboatregatta@siu.edu.

For more information about either event, check out the flyers/registration forms online at www.reccenter.siu.edu