Beech Island resident Doug Gurley is no amateur to a triathlon competition.


“I've been doing it for, yeah, 30 years,” Gurley said with a smile. “It is one of those things that takes months of training. You go through months of swimming, biking, and you have to train your mental state also to get over the nervousness of when you start, because there are so many people swimming at the same time ... I do it solo most of the time. But I do train with Outspoken Bicycles in Augusta two to three days a week. I also run with my daughter and swim a lot.”


Athletes from 16 years of age to those in their 60s got an early morning jolt of physical activity on Saturday morning during Langley Pond's eighth annual Langley Pond Sprint and International Triathlon. Roughly 300 swimmers, joggers and cyclists showed up around the Olympic-sized pond to compete in the AAA Car Care South Carolina Triathlon Series, hosted by Set Up Events and the Aiken County Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department.


Some participants drove a few miles down the road, like Gurley, to participate, but others drove hundreds of miles from North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.


As Mark van der Linden, director of the Aiken County Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department, watched the athletes swim, an individual who had never visited Langley Pond before complimented the facility and its multiple outdoor capabilities.


“That really shows us the hard work we've put into this place, and that what we've done really works,” van der Linden said. “People really enjoy coming out to these events, and then, in turn, supporting what we do. It just shows us all the hard work we've put in is really worth it.”


This triathlon was van der Linden's second experience watching the crowds of athletes as director.


“The organization and events that Set Up Events does just makes it very easy for everyone,” van der Linden said. “They are all very professional, and it's such a quality program.”


While training for a triathlon may take months, years for some, Gurley said the best part is really just the fun of it.


“I had to come out to this – it's local,” Gurley said. “It's just a fun time; I love it.”


When asked how old he is, Gurley answered with a smile.


“I'll be 64 on Sept. 7,” she said.


For more information about Set Up Events, visit www.setupevents.com.


To contact the Aiken County Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department, call 803-642-7559 or email prtdept@aikencountysc.gov.


Maayan Schechter is the local government reporter with Aiken Standard. Follow her on Twitter @MaayanSchechter.