Dangerous conditions have lifeguards on high alert during “Beat the Heat” Sprint Triathlon

Dangerous conditions have lifeguards on high alert during “Beat the Heat” Sprint Triathlon

Journal entry: Nov. 10, 2013 – Daytona Beach, FL

An hour before sunrise the sound from the parking lot was of an angry ocean – waves crashing, wind screaming – mother nature roaring its displeasure at the coming of the sun.

Karla was here to compete in her first sprint triathlon and the kids and I were here to cheer her on.

As the competitors gathered their gear, sand whipped across the parking lot, stinging the right side of my neck and biting my cheek.

A rumbling sound drew my attention to the beach. Somewhere close, still hidden behind a veil of darkness, lurked the churning ocean. I caught a shimmer of moonlight dancing atop an enormous white-capped wave.

When I think of that morning I think of that wave, at the peak of its power, cresting above a sand bar before racing out of view and smashing onto the beach. The violent crash still brings a shudder of fear as I think, “How are they going to swim in these conditions?”

The more experienced racers had gathered in small groups and were talking in hushed, excited voices. “It looks bad,” they agreed.

We mulled about as race organizers gathered away from the water’s edge, debating whether they should cancel the 400 meter swim and alter the race. Then in then end, it was decided that the event would continue and those who wanted too test their mettle could race.

The athletes were happy. This was a sanctioned event with prize money for the winners. A season-long points race hung in the balance.

Sunrise was spectacular, its deep hue’s of orange and pink and purple filling the sky. Then the whistle blew and the athletes ran into the sea.

And by all accounts the struggle during the swim was intense and personal and the fight with the waves and the current was very real.

The dangerous conditions had lifeguards on high alert, as they patrolled in well rehearsed unison, guiding weaker swimmers and encircling the pack until the last athlete was safely back to shore.

32 participants, including Karla, received notice: 
201 Karla        Katon              1:54:33 1:01:03    2:41   40:06

Despite having been halted during their swim, all emerged victorious. Maybe not in numbers, but in self-discovery, as each had pushed themselves to the limit.

After catching her breathe from her swim, Karla gave the girls a quick hug and hurried into the transition area to gather her bike and continue her race.

For me the bike and run events were almost an afterthought, as the race was won the moment everyone emerged safely from the sea.

Official Race Results

Photographs by Chris Katon


Feature: For the Family – Hilton Head Island, SC

Feature: For the Family – Hilton Head Island, SC





Blessed with natural beauty, white sandy beaches and temperate climate, Hilton Head Island has earned a reputation as one of the most family friendly vacation destinations in the United States.

At the top of many must visit lists is a climb to the summit of the iconic lighthouse in Harbourtown.

Visitors will learn about the island’s rich natural history and are rewarded for their climb with spectacular views of Harbourtown Golf Links, Harbourtown Yacht Basin and Calibogue Sound.

Active families enjoy eco-kayak or stand-up paddle boarding tours through salt marsh estuaries, where naturalists and photographers have frequent sightings of alligators, bottlenose dolphin, manatee, bald eagles, hawks and osprey.

img_4654Thrill seekers will enjoy a visit to Zip Line Hilton Head for an adventuresome canopy tour. Dolphin sightseeing tours, sailing trips, parasailing, waterskiing and tubing are especially popular.

A custom pirate ship is outfitted for a pirate adventure tour. Sport fishing charters, night shark trips and a catamaran sunset cruise are also available.

A boat trip to Daufuskie Island offers a glimpse of what other sea islands were like before bridges and causeways opened them to development. Most native residents of the island are descendants of freed slaves, who have made their living oystering and fishing for decades.

Family-oriented singer, songwriter Gregg Russell can be found performing beneath the famous Liberty Tree six nights per week throughout the summer season.

At Lawton Stables a guided trail ride through the scenic Sea Pines Forest Preserve is offered. Young children will treasure a visit with Callie, the island’s pet deer.

IMG_4489A visit to Coligny Beach is an open invitation for people watching, where the flip-flop-tapping rhythm of steel drums and Jimmy Buffet songs sets a casual mood.

Jennifer Moscar of Atlanta, who is formerly of Bluffton, took photographs of chocolate ice cream mustaches on her two young children as they splashed and danced through the water spouts in the Coligny Beach Fountains.

Thousands of family’s annually enjoy Harbourfest at Shelter Cove, where Shannon Tanner has entertained audiences for the past 25 years. Live entertainment, bouncy houses, food, arts and crafts, and evening fireworks display are featured.

For the Freeland family of Rochester, New York, an afternoon at Islander Beach was an opportunity to construct an elaborate sand castle of a giant alligator, drawing admiration from a family of four on Fat Tire bicycles out for an evening ride along the shore.

OLD TOWN KAYAK TOUR 952013Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, which includes more than 4,000 acres of salt marsh estuary and small islands.

Many families also enjoy championship caliber golf, tennis, cycling and miniature golf. Others relax during a game of bocce or kite flying. In addition, Sandbox Children’s Museum, a video arcade, bowling alley and several movie theatres are also available.

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Cape Cod Outdoors – Skydiving

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“Skydive Cape Cod has been voted one of the top three skydiving locations in the United States and is the only drop zone in New England that jumps over the beach.

On a clear day clients experience views from one end of Cape Cod to the other; from Falmouth to Provincetown, and Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket to the Boston skyline.”

Read my story here

Published: CAPE COD OUTDOORS The Enterprise • July 2013

On the Water with Jason DuBose, Director of the Outfitters Center at Oldfield Plantation

On the Water with Jason DuBose, Director of the Outfitters Center at Oldfield Plantation

Okatie, SC – Visitors from land arrive here through a canopy of moss covered oaks, past fields of grazing horses to a period era filling station and general store. On the back side of the property is the waterfront office of Jason DuBose, certified River Pro and Charter Boat Captain who is Director of the Outfitters Center at Oldfield Plantation.

“I’m lucky in that I get to spend most of my day on the water as a guide for our owners and their friends,” DuBose said. “Oldfield has a real active charter fishing program, so on any given day I could be anywhere from casting for Red Fish in the flats to trolling for Wahoo or Tuna in the Gulf Stream.”

On property, ponds are stocked with Bass, Brim and Catfish to keep the anglers happy.

“Oldfield is host site for the only Orvis Fly Fishing School in the state,” he said. The program is coordinated at Bay Street Outfitters in Beaufort, where staff members have trained to become Orvis certified instructors.

According to DuBose, a special arrangement with Turkey Hill Plantation in Ridgeland offers owners and guest’s access to 18,000 acres of outdoor adventures including “a sporting clays course, private shooting instruction and some of the best quail hunting in the state.”

“Being a private community most of our amenities are geared towards our residents and their guests, but we do offer monthly nature seminars with guest speakers that are open to the public,” Mr. DuBose said.

Other outdoor activities at Oldfield include the popular golf course, tennis instruction and equestrian center, where trail rides, instruction and summer camps are managed by Equestrian Director Jude Dontje.

For more, read “The Great Outdoors” in the November issue of Hilton Head Monthly Magazine.

What in the world is foot golf?

Hilton Head Island, SC – Heritage Golf Group is bringing the family friendly sport of Foot Golf to the Low Country. The new sport combining soccer and golf is a fun way to introduce kids and non-golfers to the sport. Using all the same principle as a round of golf, a foot golfer encounters all the same hazards and obstacles found on a golf course. Players kick their way around a strategically designed 9 or 18-hole layout. I came away from yesterday with three thoughts: (1) Anyone can kick a soccer ball; (2) It’s not as easy as you’d think; and (3) I’m definitely going back! Look for my full story in Hilton Head Monthly Magazine next month.

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