It is historic. It is fun, and most important, it is an inspiring collaboration of local businesses joining forces to support Coronado’s youth. The Optimist Club of Coronado’s Annual Sports Fiesta is in its 47th year. The Optimist Club of Coronado was started by 26 charter members in 1970. Its first Sports Fiesta was held in 1971 raising $1,460 for its Youth Fund.
Of course, this year’s event features the staple of the Sports Fiesta over the last 47 years, the longest continuously-running triathlon in the world – a 400-yard ocean swim, a 1-mile run on the beach and a 4-mile bike ride on Naval Air Station North Island. And, for competitors who like to go longer distances, there is also 1-mile rough water ocean swim and a 5K run on Naval Air Station North Island. The 1-mile swim, the 5K, and the triathlon make up what is called “The Big Three.” At the end of the day, the Hard Rock Award goes to the top three male and female contestants who complete “The Big Three” based on fastest combined time.
Competitors must be at least 8 years old. The beauty of the triathlon race is its short course. “The whole event takes about half an hour,” says Dave Hansen, who along with his brother Al, has taken part in the Sports Fiesta triathlon since its inaugural event. “The fastest ones are in the low 20 minutes and the slower ones in the mid 40 minutes, but overall it’s about a half hour event and most anybody can do this.” The more competitive types can also do the 5K run and/or the 1-mile ocean swim.
What has become a Coronado tradition led to the founding of the world famous Ironman triathlon in Hawaii. Coronado resident and retired Navy SEAL Dan Hendrickson had participated in the early Sports Fiesta triathlons. He was stationed in Hawaii with Navy Commander John Collins, who had also taken part in the Optimist Club’s triathlon. Collins decided a race including a grueling swim, bike and run would settle which athlete was best among swimmers, bicyclists and runners. “Several of us had experienced triathlons here in San Diego and the most notable one being the one here in Coronado,” Hendrickson recalls, “and decided that we needed a little more rigor in the race and put together what later became the Ironman Triathlon.”
New this Year – fun activities for all
To ensure there are fun activities for all ages, this year’s event will include much more than recent Sports Fiestas, and have events both Saturday and Sunday. In addition to the regularly held sporting events, there will be a beach volleyball tournament at North Beach, a Lawn Bowling tournament at the Spreckels Center Lawn Bowling Green, a corn hole tournament, pickleball tournament at the Marriott, a golf cart decorating contest and a picnic (bring your own food and drink (no alcohol)); or you can order from Panera, which will be taking orders and delivering to Sunset Park.
Most important, proceeds from the Sports Fiesta provide the bulk of annual funds the Optimist Club of Coronado distributes to roughly 50 youth groups including; the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, NJROTC, Coronado schools’ athletic teams and club teams, scholarship programs, robotics, oratorical and essay contests, Miracle League and many more.
“We’re looking forward to gathering with our friends and neighbors in such a positive way for such a good cause. This event is a great example of our community’s strength, which is uniting to support each other… in this case, to support our kids,” said Coronado Optimist Club President, Don Crawford.
Local businesses are encouraged to support Coronado’s youth by becoming partners in the Sports Fiesta. Gold Medal sponsors are those who contribute more than $1000. Silver Medal sponsors provide between $400 and $999 and Bronze Medal sponsors give $250 to $399. Sports Fiesta contributors donate up to $250.
To participate, donate or just plan a fun summer day at Sunset Park and Coronado’s world-class beach, go to optimistclubofcoronado.org and click on the 2018 Sports Fiesta tab at the top of the page.