Triathlon benefits eye research

By Kate Carpenter

Swim 800 meters, bike 18.5 miles and run four miles. To add to those already intimidating numbers, competition and speed are also factors. While that may not sound like the usual relaxing Sunday, that series of events is exactly how more than 400 athletes are going to be spending theirs.

The Susan Bradley- Cox Triathlon for Sight will take place this Saturday and benefit the Eye Research Fund for the College of Medicine.

“At the University of Kentucky, there are about 30,000 eye patients a year,” race director Beth Atnip said. “There wasn’t much money being set aside for research of eye diseases including macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.”

The race is named after Susan Bradley Cox, 74, who is the Lexington Triathlon Coach for the Kentucky Leukemia/Lymphoma Society and the head coach of the UK Masters Swim Team. She is the triathlon’s swim course coordinator. She is also training to compete in the world championships for short course triathlons in her age group.

The event was designed to provide start-up funds for eye research and to inform the public about eye disease. Over the past eight years, the event has raised close to $200,000.

Dr. Sheila Sanders, director of Glaucoma Service in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at the College of Medicine, saw a need to change the lack of eye research funding through a fundraising event. She co-founded the triathlon.

One area of research this race benefits is the study of the way blood vessels grow in the eyes in diabetic patients. In addition to diabetics, this research is applicable to other fields beyond eye treatment, such as cancer research. Because of this additional application, this research becomes even more beneficial to the community.

“We have a lot of people who race in honor of people who have visual impairments,” said Sanders.

Another major contributor to the event is Delta Gamma, a sorority that has made contributing to fighting eye disease one of its causes. They provide about 120 volunteers, some of them on site by 5 a.m. making preparations for the race.

“We couldn’t do it without them,” said Atnip.

This event will begin at 7:15 am on Sunday. You may still register online until midnight on Friday and on Saturday you can sign up on site from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. as well as 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m., adjacent to the UK football stadium. An individual entry is $70 and a team is $105. This includes a long-sleeve t-shirt, race belt and food and drinks.