Kiwanis Club hosts first annual Rocky Knob Triathlon


The Appalachian Online

Kaitlan Morehouse

The Boone Kiwanis Club is inaugurating the first ever Rocky Knob Triathlon on Sept. 20 to raise money for its Eliminate Project, a project that fights to vaccinate neonatal tetanus in expectant mothers worldwide.

The triathlon starts at the High Country Fairgrounds with an eight-mile run, followed by a four-mile kayak on the New River and a 19-mile bike ride back to the highway, up and down Rocky Knob and back to the fairgrounds. The route will be marked. Registration is open at $75 for individuals, $110 for a team of two and $150 for a team of three.

Students from ages 18-24 are offered a special $50 sign-up deal.

Mike Varner, a current triathlon committee member and incoming president, said the committee encourages teams to participate.

Kiwanis International is a civic organization dedicated to the welfare of children, according to For approximately $1.50, third-world mothers can receive three injections to prevent the neo-natal tetanus death of their babies.

According to, the goal of the triathlon is to fund a $10,000 commitment to Kiwanis International’s Elimination Project. Kiwanis International has completed half of its projected $110 million goal.

Triathlon committee member Gerry Staninger said he has been a part of the Boone Kiwanis Club for 15 years and currently serves as its secretary. The triathlon was started by committee Chair Sonny Sweet, but Staninger has been filling in for him due to illness.

“[Sweet has] been giving us good advice,” Staninger said. “He has been our guiding influence.”

Staninger said the club has received permits, raised funds, designed T-shirts and received permission from landowners and the county to use Rocky Knob Park, a mountain bike park located just outside of Boone town limits off of U.S. 421.

“Our committee is doing all of these various things to make the triathlon a success,” Staninger said.
The triathlon committee is working with the Boone Kiwanis Club in order to promote and establish the event, Staninger said.

Dev Looper, the volunteer coordinator for the event, said the Boone Kiwanis Club is pooling a wide variety of volunteers from the community in order to support the triathlon.

“The most notable is the ASU Circle K Club, which is a branch of the Kiwanis [Club],” Looper said.

The university’s Circle K Club’s president, Alyssa Nardi, will be bringing a group of Appalachian students to help set-up, break down and clean up the event, Looper said.

Volunteers will be there to assist as necessary at Wahoo’s Landing, Todd Island, Rocky Knob Park and at key points along the route with water, Band-Aids and snacks. Police officers will monitor highway crossings and EMT personnel will also be available.

The competition is sponsored with volunteers by ASU Circle K Club, Watauga High School Key Club, Blowing Rock Boy Scouts and the Watauga Aktion Club, which is a part of Watauga Opportunities.

“Our main sponsor is Appalachian Regional Orthopedic and Sports Medicine,” Varner said. “The other sponsors are Alray Tire, Wahoo’s Adventures, M-Prints, Pepsi and Magic Cycles.”

Looper said the Blowing Rock Boy Scouts, under the direction of Kevin Clark, are camping out on the river and providing security for the kayaking portion of the event. Watauga Opportunities, a service program for developmentally challenged adults in the local community, put together the packets and designed the T-shirts.

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Story: Kaitlan Morehouse, Intern News Reporter