OKLAHOMA CITY - Hundreds of athletes are set to converge on Lake Hefner Saturday for the Redman Triathlon, and athletes -- as well as organizers -- are keeping an eye on what may happen with the weather.
The transition area's set, fencing is up and buoys bobbed in the high winds on the lake Thursday, as the waves were whipped up by strong southerly winds. In the distance, a system of weather that race organizers are keeping an eye on.
"There could be a whole myriad of things that could occur," said race director David Wood. "We’re either going to be full-on, or we’re going to be some modified version and we’ll just have to make that call race morning."
The race is a big one for many athletes, having spent months preparing for the competition, which is also the 2018 USA Triathlon Ultra-Distance National Championships.
With the race just days away, some athletes spent Thursday doing some last minute preparations, including Rian Smoak and Bryce Wooten. The two are competing in tandem, with Smoak towing, pulling or pushing Wooten through the half-triathlon race.
"Keeping (Wooten) safe back there is paramount," said Smoak. "We’ve been watching the weather over the last week and see what it’s going to do or not do, when it’s going to hit."
"We got so much adrenaline for this," said Wooten, 21, who has cerebral palsy and requires a motorized wheel chair to get around. "We’ve been training for this for months, it’s just rain."
The duo, whose exploits can be followed on Instagram, are competing in their first triathlon together. However this isn't their first race. They also competed in this year's Oklahoma City Memorial half marathon.
"But the goal was to end up doing this race," said Smoak, 45. "(Wooten's) very unfamiliar with the life of triathlon, so this will be new to him."
Ahead of Saturday, Smoak, Wooten and family and friends did a trial run with the swim portion in a friend's neighborhood lake Thursday evening to work out the kinks. Once Wooten was secured and comfortable situated in the inflatable kayak, Smoak attached a tow rope to a belt around his waist and set off for a quick swim. Far shorter than the 1.2 mile open water swim they'll face Saturday.
"(Bryce is) very contagious with his personality. He has cerebral palsy, and does not let that slow him down one bit," said Smoak. "I have different abilities. so does he. but together we can do amazing things.”
"I had to hire a personal trainer to get me ready for this," said Wooten. "We’re just ready to make stuff happen and show people what we’re made of.”
Bad weather, or not.
"We’re just going to have to roll with it," Smoak said. "Be safe, take our time and have a great day."