B.J. Morrow will be a busy man Saturday. He is the race director of the 35th Annual Heart O’ Dixie Triathlon. He and his wife, Shannon, will be competing in the triathlon as well.
B.J. Morrow will be a busy man Saturday. He is the race director of the 35th Annual Heart O’ Dixie Triathlon. He and his wife, Shannon, will be competing in the triathlon as well.
B.J. Morrow will be a busy man this Saturday.

Morrow, a seven-year member of the Philadelphia Sertoma Club, will be the race director of the 35th Annual Heart O' Dixie Triathlon. And, he and his wife Shannon will be competing in the annual event as well.

"It is going to be a busy day, that is for sure," Morrow said. "We knew that we would be competing and that I would be the race director. We have been training off and on for the past six months to get ready to compete. We have been swimming, riding our bikes and running. We have been training harder the last three months. And now the triathlon is here.

"As far as the triathlon is concerned, once the first competitor hits the water at Lake Tiak-O'Khata, the race pretty much runs itself. I will have a couple of guys helping at the start and someone at the finish line. It will work out."

The Heart O' Dixie race course covers a lot of ground. The triathlon starts with the .5 mile swim at Lake Tiak-O'Khata starting at 6:30 a.m. The swim is followed by a 27.5 mile bike race which progresses through the rolling red clay hills down Highway 25 to Philadelphia. It concludes with a seven-mile run to the grandstands at Neshoba County Fair.

As of Monday, 276 people have entered to compete in the triathlon this year. Morrow said that club is hoping for around 300 competitors, adding that usually a good number signs up on the final week. There is no registration on race day but you can enter as late as Friday night at the race meeting at Lake Tiak-O'Khata.

"We have a good representation from our surrounding towns and all of Mississippi," Morrow said. "But we also have people coming from different states such as Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and as far as Houston, Texas."

Morrow said that competitors start making it to the grand stands at the Neshoba County Fair and the finish line about two hours after the start. They will be coming in until around 11 a.m. He added that the radio clubs and law enforcement agencies help club members keep up with the competitors throughout the morning.

The triathlon is a fund-raiser for the Philadelphia Sertoma Club and pays for the many programs and donations they give throughout the year.

Morrow pointed out that the volunteers on race day are the key to success for the Heart O' Dixie.

"We have volunteers along with clubs and agencies helping us every step of the way," Morrow said. "The aid stations for the competitors are so important and different groups just show up and take care of them each year.

"And we have different law enforcement agencies helping to keep things safe. We have different medical groups who will be there. We thank everyone who helps."

Victor Stanfield of Gulfport is the defending men's champion while Sara Gibson is the defending women's champion. Stanfield finished the race last year in a time of 1:57:56.