AIKEN --- Hundreds of athletes and spectators will head to the Valley this weekend for the second annual Langley Pond Sprint Triathlon.
The spring event -- set to begin at 7 a.m. Saturday -- is one of several competitions that have helped turn Langley Pond from a rowdy hangout to a family-friendly sporting locale.
Aiken County Parks and Recreation Director Brian Sanders said organizers expected just a couple of hundred people to show up last year at the first triathlon, and were surprised when about 500 attended.
More are expected this year, he said.
Mr. Sanders said he is not surprised by the event's popularity, because Langley Pond has become a major draw from rowing events, once pulling in about 1,000 spectators and athletes for a one-day competition.
"Langley Pond got an undeserved reputation for a long time," Mr. Sanders said. "There is pollution in there, and it was the rowdy place for people on Friday and Saturday night. But we've cut the rowdy out."
Police and state fish and wildlife officials have helped turn the pond into a family-friendly area, with a swimming section and frequent events, he said.
"You can't go out there and sneeze the wrong way anymore," Mr. Sanders said.
National sporting organizers took notice. The triathlon last year got Langley Pond high praise from the competitors, Mr. Sanders said, and many are coming back for this weekend's triathlon.
The event is free for spectators, but competitors have to pay $65 to $130, depending on their events. The triathlon will feature running, swimming and biking.
Athletes can register runtil racing day, and they can e-mail organizers at email@example.com in advance.
The games begin at 7 a.m. and are expected to end around 12:30 p.m. Staging will be held at Langley Pond Park off U.S. Highway 1 just behind the Reid's Grocery Store in Langley.
Mr. Sanders said workers will be there to direct parking.
Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Langley Pond Sprint Triathlon
WHERE: Langley Pond, off U.S. Highway 1
WHEN: 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday
COST: Free for spectators, various fees for participants
INFORMATION: (803) 642-7559