Photo |  Courtesy Mobile Baykeeper

Some 700 to 800 race participants will join more than 3,000 spectators in Fairhope this weekend for the Publix Grandman Triathlon.

Mobile Baykeeper is a vital environmental community organization that has served the area since 1997, working throughout the year to help provide for “clean water, clean air and healthy communities” along Mobile Bay.

But being a nonprofit, Baykeeper depends on events to gather resources in order to continue testing the water quality of local rivers, educating students on the importance of watersheds and monitoring industrial projects. That is where the 14th annual Publix Grandman Triathlon, set for this weekend, comes in.

Photos courtesy of Mobile Baykeeper | The Publix Grandman Triathlon begins with a one-third mile swim, followed by a 18.6 mile bike race and 3.1 mile run.

“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Hanlon Walsh, Baykeeper’s communications director. “That is the reason we serve as host. The Grandman is a perfect example of what Baykeeper is all about. We strive to keep the bay clean in order to swim, fish and play.”

All the activities are centered around Fairhope Municipal Pier. Competitors start at 7 a.m. Saturday, June 2, by jumping into the bay for a swim covering one-third of a mile.

“Last year we switched the start by using two finger-piers to allow the swimmers a more efficient way to get going,” Walsh said. “It was a big hit and we plan to do it again. This part of the race connects swimmers to our natural resources.”

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 and a trip back along the bay before finally ending at Fairhope Park.

“This is a great race for first-time participants,” Walsh said. “It is a beautiful course.”

For those unsure of their abilities to complete the entire course, a team option is available.

“You can use your strengths,” Walsh said. “If you like to ride bikes or run but are not a great swimmer, you don’t have to do the whole thing. Either two or three people can form the team.”

For the second straight year, Baykeeper will host the Publix Jubilee Kids Triathlon. It will start Sunday at 7:30 a.m. and is open to children ages 7 to 15.

“We are keeping the kids race because it did well,” Walsh said. “We had over 100 participants despite some issues with the weather. We are looking for 200 this time.”

Baykeeper has dedicated charities they support during the triathlon. Back for the third 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 assist those in need to complete each section of the course.

Activities will begin that Friday, June 1, with a health and fitness exposition at the pier from 4-7 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.

Walsh pointed out that the Grandman has grown into one of the largest events in Baldwin County. He noted there are usually 700 to 800 participants in the races along with 200 volunteers who help to keep the races going. When spectators are added to the mix, there are up to 3,000 people in Fairhope for the weekend.

To learn more about all the events, to register or to volunteer, visit mobilebaykeeper.org, send email to grandman@mobilebaykeeper.org or call 251-433-4BAY (229).


Former USA soccer players go pro

Three former University of South Alabama soccer standouts have signed professional contracts and will continue their playing careers in Europe.

Rio and Steffi Hardy, from Workington, England, will play for Grindavík, a club located just outside Reykjavik in Iceland’s Pepsi League. They departed after participating in USA’s graduation ceremony.

Tiina Trutsi, a Tallinn, Estonia, native, has signed with Barcelona Football Academy in Limassol, Cyprus.

Rio finished second in school history in both career points (103) and goals (43), and is the school’s all-time leader in game-winning goals (13). Steffi earned First Team all-Sun Belt Conference honors three times and was the 2015 SBC Defender of the Year. Trutsi set new career highs in goals (4), assists (4) and points (12) in her senior season.


2018 alligator hunt approaching

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will open online registration for the state’s 13th annual regulated alligator hunts June 5 at 8 a.m.

Registration must be completed by 8 a.m. on July 11. A total of 260 Alligator Possession Tags will be distributed among four hunting zones. The administrative fee to apply for an Alligator Possession Tag is $22 and individuals may register once per zone. While the tag is free, the selected hunters and their assistants are required to have valid hunting licenses in their possession while hunting.

The Southwest Alabama Zone will offer 150 tags. The locations cover private and public waters in Baldwin and Mobile counties, and private and public waters in Washington, Clarke and Monroe counties that lie east of U.S. Route 43 and south of U.S. Route 84.

Only Alabama residents and Alabama lifetime license holders age 16 or older may apply for tags. Alabama lifetime license holders may apply for an Alligator Possession Tag even if they have moved out of the state.

To register for the 2018 alligator hunts, visit www.outdooralabama.com/alligators/alligator-hunt-registration during the registration period listed above.


Free Fishing Day set for June 9

On Saturday, June 9, Alabamians and visitors alike will have the opportunity to fish for free in most public waters including both freshwater and saltwater. Free Fishing Day is part of National Fishing and Boating Week, which runs June 2-10.

Approved by the Alabama Legislature, Free Fishing Day allows residents and non-residents to enjoy Alabama’s fishing opportunities without having to purchase a fishing license.

The fishing license exemption on Free Fishing Day does not affect some lakes and piers that may still require fees and permits. Fishing in a private pond requires the pond owner’s permission. Anglers can visit outdooralabama.com to find a great fishing spot for Free Fishing Day.