Floating Past the Pain


This is a flesh-and-blood athlete from last year’s triathlon (a ghost rider doesn’t sweat).

As though hosting one of the country’s most scenic triathlons weren’t enough — all the top-ten lists include it — the Lake Lure Olympiad, happening for the 14th year in and around Rumbling Bald Resort, triples the options of pain (“fun”). The event’s “three races in three days” approach includes a 10K Dam Run on Friday; the triathlon itself on Saturday (comprising a 750-meter swim in Lake Lure, a 22.3-K bike course, and a 5K run); and a “Race to the Rock” on Sunday. That finale is a grueling 5K run or 25-mile bike ride to the top of Chimney Rock.

The Olympiad raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for area nonprofits, and this alone makes it a beloved local event. But not everyone’s cut out for extreme sports, and those who’ve spent their training months exercising only their texting thumbs shouldn’t have to miss out. New this year is a “ghost athlete” option, where those who prefer to chill out rather than ice their extremities can support the event and receive recognition — their way. 

The idea came from Leniece Lane, who helps out with the Rutherford Housing Partnership Gears and Gables Race in May. Lane “competes” as a “Ghost Rider” in that 65-mile cycling event. “I’ve always been an athlete,” she says. But for her, that means team sports, not marathon cardio. “I played softball, basketball, volleyball and was on the swim team, but anyone who knows me knows that running is not my thing. Never has been. I despise running. That’s why I always played court sports.”

Like her, lots of people, she figures, “just don’t like to run, or else have some sort of medical condition and can’t.” She also mentions “athletes that have competed in the past but have a conflict this year or are unable to be here for it.”

For all of the above, there’s now a “fund run” of sorts — opting out of exercising but supporting the cause instead. Ghost athletes can make any monetary donation, to be dispersed to the long list of benefitting service organizations that include Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge Fire, EMS, & Police Departments; Friends of Mountain Branch Library; and Friends of Chimney Rock State Park. Those donating $50 or more get a complimentary “swag” item.

“Personally, I love it,” says Lane. “It keeps me from feeling guilty about not participating due to my lack of love for cardio.”

The 14th Annual Lake Lure Olympiad happens Friday, August 10 through Sunday, August 12. Opening ceremonies on Friday night (5:30-7:30pm) are for spectators and athletes alike and include water-ski performances, a boat race, and free ice-cream sundaes. For event details and registration information, see lakelureolympiad.com.

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