Photos | Courtesy of Mobile Baykeeper
The mission of Mobile Baykeeper is to provide “clean water, clean air and healthy communities” along Mobile Bay. The nonprofit environmental organization accomplishes this by testing the water quality of local rivers, educating students on the importance of watersheds and monitoring industrial projects.
This is where the 15th annual Publix Grandman Triathlon comes in. The event is the largest fundraiser each year for the group.
“The race is a perfect fit for Baykeeper,” said Casi Callaway, the executive director of Baykeeper who serves as the Grandman race director. “It is a way to show off Mobile Bay and our waterways.
“The competitors jump off Fairhope Municipal Pier to start. That is a fabulous way to connect to the Bay.”
Although the Grandman is the main attraction, it is just one section of the weekend. The action starts on Friday with a health and fitness exposition sponsored by Lyon Fry Cadden Insurance Agency at the pier from 3-7 p.m. A meeting for first-time competitors will take place at 6 p.m.
“The expo is open to the general public who may wish to visit the vendors,” said Justine Herlihy, Baykeeper’s development director. “It is a great family event. We will have live music and a lot of health-related booths along the south side of the park. In addition to bike and cycle shops being present, we plan to have chiropractors, massage therapists and yoga instructors.”
Action returns to Fairhope Municipal Pier on Saturday. The competitors jump into the Bay starting at 7 a.m. for a swim covering one-third of a mile.
“Water quality was an issue for last year’s race, but we have done our own testing to fill in any gaps from the [Alabama Department of Environmental Management] (ADEM) sites,” Herlihy said. “The last eight or nine tests have been fine. To see the latest data, you can download a swim guide app on our website.”
Next is a bicycle race that covers 18.6 miles. The course begins in Fairhope before continuing into the countryside and along Mobile Bay.
The final segment includes a 3.1-mile run. Again the course includes Downtown Fairhope, a trip back along the Bay before finally ending at Fairhope Park.
For those unsure of their abilities to complete the entire course, a team option is available. Either two or three people can forge a unit to complete the race.
Baykeeper has dedicated charities they support during the triathlon. Back for the fourth year is myTeam Triumph: Southern Alabama. This is an athletic ride-along program created for children, teens, adults and veterans with disabilities who would normally not be able to experience endurance events such as triathlons or road races. Volunteers (known as Angels) assist those in need (known as Captains) to complete each section of the course.
“They have their own following,” Herlihy said. “Groups will come out to cheer them on throughout the course.”
On Sunday, some younger faces will step up to compete in the ninth annual Publix Jubilee Kids Triathlon. Volunteers from the Eastern Shore Triathlon Club created the race before Baykeeper took over the logistics three years ago. The club still helps Baykeeper with Rickie Richey serving as race director.
Astoria Jellett, Baykeeper’s communications coordinator, said the race is open to children ages 7 to 15. There will be a long course (200-yard swim, 3-mile bike, 1.75-mile run) for the older competitors and a shorter course (75-yard swim, 1-mile bike, 0.75-mile run) for the younger entries.
“We are excited about the races coming together as one,” Herlihy said. “It creates a family-friendly event.
“The City of Fairhope looks at this as a race weekend now and not three separate events. It is a great economic boost. We expect people from at least nine states.”
The Grandman has grown into one of the largest sporting events in Baldwin County. Herlihy noted there are usually 700 adults and 100 children participating in the races along with 200 volunteers who help to keep the races going. When spectators are added into the mix, there are up to 3,000 people in Fairhope for the weekend.
“This is an exciting time of the year,” Herlihy said. “The weather is getting warmer and families are coming to the coast. The Grandman has grown into something spectacular.”
To learn more about all the events, to register or to volunteer, visit mobilebaykeeper.org/grandmantriathlon, send email to email@example.com or call 251-433-4BAY (229).
McGill-Toolen adds another trophy
The recent success of the athletic program at McGill-Toolen Catholic High School has been quite impressive. In the previous five seasons, the Jackets have claimed state titles in football, men’s basketball, in both men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s tennis, women’s soccer and two crowns in volleyball.
The trophy case will have to be expanded again. The latest entry is the baseball squad, which recently captured its first state championship.
Head coach Tim Becker’s team had a massive clash with powerhouse Bob Jones High of Madison. After McGill won the best-of-three opener 8-6, the North Alabama squad evened out the series with an 11-7 victory.
In the decisive third game, Nathan LaRue hit a two-run double in the sixth inning to put the Jackets up 7-4. After coming on in relief in the seventh inning, LaRue managed to snare a line-drive shot and threw to first baseman Chandler Best to secure the game-ending double play. Matthew Glover, the third of four McGill pitchers, earned the win.
McGill’s Spencer Hadley had two hits and an RBI in the final game plus one hit and two RBIs in game two to earn Class 7A Championship Series Most Valuable Player. The Jackets finished with a 32-8 record.
“We are so proud of how our players competed and battled throughout all four rounds of the 7A State Playoffs,” Becker, who previously led UMS-Wright and St. Luke’s to a pair of state championships, told Lagniappe. “This final series against Bob Jones was the best series of playoff baseball I have ever been a part of.
“This 2019 championship season goes out to all the great players and coaches whoever put a ‘McT’ uniform on. This will always be remembered as the ‘first ever’ state baseball championship.”
Because McGill’s graduation ceremony took place during the playoffs, Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi hosted a special ceremony for the Jacket seniors. Joining Glover, Best, LaRue and Hadley were Jennings Clayton, Michael Ellis, Carson McClain, Ted Prescott, Sam Satterwhite and Luke Williams.
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