By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Athletes will test their mettle against four challengers – the climate, the terrain, the water and each other the next couple days during SmartSynch Oxford Endurance Weekend.
Athletic events in August? The timing was a result of quietude, not cruelty.
“We were trying to find something in the summertime that would attract visitors to Oxford,” said City Planner Tim Akers, who spearheaded the event’s creation.
The multi-sport contest started Friday night with the Rowan Oak 5K, followed by a party for participants.
This morning features TriOxford, a mini-triathlon made up of 300 meters in a pool and 13 miles on a bike followed by a 5K run. This afternoon continues with two loops of an 11-mile circuit in the Plein Air Classic bike race.
Sunday from early morning until mid-afternoon is the most watchable event – the Criterium, which centers on the Square.
“With the Criterium, bike racers make loops … several blocks around downtown,” Oxford Tourism Director Mary-Kathryn Herrington said. “Every couple of minutes you’re going to see bike racers come around, and they sometimes have crashes – it’s a little bit more intense to watch.”
The Oxford Endurance Weekend is also a chance to enjoy some time in the quintessential college town between sporting events. The Yocona International Folk Festival will host an international bazaar at the Powerhouse all day Saturday, and several new restaurants have opened in the past several weeks around downtown.
“There’s a lot of great shopping and lots of back-to-school sales going on, because stores are getting ready for all the students to come back,” Herrington said. “It’s a good chance to enjoy a quiet weekend before the frenzy of football season and school starts.”