SIU holds first triathlon: The King Tut Strut


Kylen Lunn

Johnathon Phillips,41, dashes into Campus Lake. Phillips won second place overall at The King Tut Strut.

By Oreoluwa Ojewuyi and Joey Bernard

On your mark, get set, go! On Saturday, June 5, 2021 SIU hosted the first ever sprint distance triathlon: The King Tut Strut. The race began at 8 am. 50 competitors ages 16 and up, came out to show their physical abilities in three different events: swimming, biking and running. 

The race began with a zero point two mile swim in the SIU Campus Lake, followed by a five mile bike course from the south and west sides of campus. Finally competitors completed  a two mile run through SIU Campus Lake trail and ending at the Becker Pavilion. 

Caleb Hall, 33, won first place overall at the triathlon. Hall is an experienced triathlete who has competed at triathlons throughout the last 10 years. 


“I’ll run three to six miles every other day. I’ll bike usually Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and swim once a week. I also do a little bit of yoga and stretching,” Hall said. 

Hall said the mental preparation for a triathlon is more taxing than the physical. 

“The mental preparation is so much harder. Once you get used to the physical part of training it just becomes a part of your routine. It’s almost like once you get into the routine it’s hard not to do it” Hall said.

Antonio Martinez, 42, competed in his first triathlon eight years ago. Martinez said the mental part of triathlons is the most difficult to become accustomed to.

“In the swimming part you can hear a 1,000 voices in your head and all of them are self-doubt. Today I caved just because I knew myself and my body and didn’t want to take the risk,” Hall said. 

Martinez said the pandemic closing down cross fit encouraged him to do workouts outdoors. 

“I’ve been starting to bike more. Since the pandemic I recently invested in a mountain bike so I can take advantage of a touch of nature through bike trails,” Martinez said. 


Martinez did not do formal training for The King Strut Triathlon before he decided to register. 

“I signed up like 36 hours before. The last time I did something like this I ran a half-marathon in Omaha as an undergraduate. I only had like a week of training for it,” Martinez said. “I still have the mental attitude to at least try. Also I’m a believer in being vulnerable and putting yourself in vulnerable positions to test your courage and your mental strengths.” 

Jared King, 28, is the aquatics coordinator at the rec center. King helped organize the triathlon.

“I organized the swim portion in the facilities. Sally Wright organized the volunteers and how to mobilize them. Savannah Ashbaugh took care of all of the sponsorships and registration portion. We also had Jason Klaunch who was our timer and the whole meat and potatoes of this,” King said. 

It took about seven months to organize the event according to King.

“First we needed sponsorships and people to make this event a reality. We reached out to a lot of our local community and some national companies. After that we needed to secure our space and make sure we had the appropriate course,” King said. 

King said the organizers mapped the course in collaboration with the City of Carbondale and the Carbondale Police Department to ensure its safety for the participants. 

“There’s always something we can improve on. We’re taking in comments from everybody and getting open feedback on how we can make this [triathlon] even greater next year,” King said. 

King said the community and the overall uniqueness of triathlons excite him. 

“Where else do you get to do three different races all in one? That’s the coolest part of it to me and it’s really a test of endurance, mental fortitude, and athletic ability,” King said. “There were a lot of people who worked to make this happen. if it weren’t for this entire group this would have not gone as well as it did.”

Staff Reporter Oreoluwa Ojewuyi can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @odojewuyi

Staff Reporter Joey Bernard can be reached at [email protected] 

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