Group gets FIT for annual triathlon

Seven years ago, the Fighting Illini Triathlon team, or FIT, came together to form a triathlon training group. For the past two years, FIT has been functioning as an official club sport at the University.

“FIT is for anyone and everyone who wants to join,” said club president Jill Proffitt, junior in LAS. “It is not an elite club, as it offers specific workouts for the specific person.”

The club has grown from 15 people to 60 participants, and Proffitt said she hopes to see it continue to grow.

One of the main focuses of FIT is preparing for their second annual Tri-the-Illini triathlon that will take place on April 24, 2010, Proffitt said. Although the event is far off in the future, the club needs to begin planning for it now.

“Jill has just finished most of the official paper work for the event, but we also have to contact our sponsors, figure out the race course, and plan the food and entertainment,” said Jason Fanning, vice president and senior in AHS.

When planning the race course, the group tries to cover as much of campus as possible because it is not just students participating, but also community members of varying ages, Fanning said.

“Last year we had 400 participants, which is pretty good for its first year,” Proffitt said. “This year we are putting the cap at 800 participants.”

Along with planning for the event, FIT also has to keep up with their training year round. There are four planned swim workouts and two running workouts every week for the members, but attendance is not mandatory at these events, Proffitt said. This is so the workouts may fit into as many peoples’ schedules as possible.

“What I really like about the club is that they are pretty flexible with the workout schedules and are willing to adjust to your schedules,” said club member Andrew Park, sophomore in LAS.

Park is a new addition to the club this year and said he has been loving it.

“I wish I joined the club last year,” Park said. “There is a great variety of people involved and it has been nice to meet people outside of my major.”

Proffitt said the club is open to anyone with much experience or no experience with triathlons.

“We have separate swimming, running and biking coordinators who send out weekly workouts for all levels of ability,” Proffitt said.

By sending out weekly workouts, the participants can exercise on their own if they are not able to make it to the scheduled workouts, Park said.

While the Tri-the-Illini is FIT’s main event, they also participate in other triathlon throughout the year, Proffitt said. The group recently participated in an event in Iowa. The group is also working with Campus Recreation to start an indoor triathlon at the Activities and Recreation Center, or ARC.

In order to pay for all the supplies FIT uses, they hold fundraisers and collect $40 a month in dues from each member.

“FIT is actually a good deal because with fundraising we save money on equipment because triathlon can be pretty expensive,” Park said.

The club isn’t all exercise, though ­­— social activities help make the group fun as well. The executive board plans social events for their members such as holiday parties, bonfires, team dinners and barcrawls, Proffitt said.

“Being a part of the club is like having a home away from home,” Proffitt said. “People push you to do well and we look out for one another; you really get a team feel without having to be on a college sports team.”