Runners, cyclists, swimmers form new club

Runners, swimmer and cyclists of Kitsap: Meet Jim Felty.

Felty, 51, and a handful of like-minded citizens are spearheading a movement to bring a triathletes club to Kitsap County.

The group, which has yet to become official, met for the first time Tuesday at Silverdale’s Round Table Pizza to gauge the interest level of community members, elect chair members and a president, assign additional duties and lay out what needs to happen for the club to grow.

Nearly 50 people attended.

“I was praying for 15 or 20 people, to be honest,” Felty said. “That was just fantastic.”

The idea to form a triathletes group or club or team — Felty said a meeting is planned for Jan. 20 to vote on an official name — originated when Felty and Lisa Ballou, who coaches the Kitsap Tri-Babes, a female-only group geared toward beginners and intermediates, talked about forming an additional group.

“When we talked, she was interested,” Felty said of Ballou, who has competed in four Ironman competitions and spoke Tuesday about group cohesion. “Together, we moved forward.”

While the specifics of when, where and how often the group will meet are yet to be determined, Felty said the main goal is simply to bring together fellow runners, swimmer, cyclists and triathletes who want to train and improve their times.

“Ultimately, the goal is to establish and maintain a swimming, biking and running club that supports all three sports as well as triathlon,” Felty said. “(We) would love to eventually develop some events that help get our youth out and about.”

A 32-year member of the Navy, Felty said he’s traveled the world and has always been able to find a group of people to train with. After relocating to Kitsap County in July, Felty discovered Kitsap had no such group other than the Tri-Babes.

“I’ve always been able to find a group of like-minded people,” he explained. “Basically, find a core group of people to have an active lifestyle with.”

That urge led to Tuesday’s meeting, which attracted residents from as far as Port Angeles. Sixteen more people called Felty Wednesday to inquire.

“My phone has blown up,” Felty said. “We (also) had some high school athletes and some senior athletes in attendance.”

How the group will be financed is still in the works, Felty said, and it still needs a volunteer Webmaster to build and design a Web site.

For Ballou, whose Tri-Babes currently has more than 200 members, the new group will serve to complement both her group and the growing triathlon interest in Kitsap County.

“I’m very supportive of what (Jim) is doing,” said Ballou, who typically doesn’t teach advanced triathlon. “The overlap I see is if my women want to improve, they can go to him.”

Felty, who lives near Wildcat Lake, was elected the group’s president and said his only three rules are to have fun, be safe and always return with the same number of people you set out with on a run, swim or ride.

“If you leave with 27 people, come back with 27,” he said.

The Jan. 20 meeting is scheduled for 6-7:30 p.m. at Round Table Pizza in Silverdale and Felty is coordinating to bring in a guest speaker. He anticipates another solid turnout and encourages those interested to attend.

“The thing is there are just a lot of people who want to train with others,” Felty said.

For more information, contact Felty at (360) 315-5609.

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