When the starting gun sounds Saturday to launch the TRIKW triathlon, at least 30 determined women will unleash the energy and determination they've been nurturing for months.
The name of their group is Team Island Jane, and the members have come together to help raise money for Samuel's House, an emergency shelter for Keys women and young children that also provides permanent housing for homeless men and women with children, as well as for intact families.
The competitors also hope to have a little fun while trying to stay in shape.
"Team Island Jane was built on the principle of women helping each other, and doing healthy things," said magazine publisher Dianne Scott, one of the driving forces behind the team. "My friend and colleague Allison [Delashmit] and I sat down one day and thought it up. We like the idea of Samuel's House, and thought that we could do more to help them. We decided that taking part in this run to raise money is a goal we can all achieve together."
Both women also decided that taking part in a regular training regimen wouldn't be such a bad thing.
"I decided about a year ago that I needed to get into better shape," Delashmit said. "My first goal was to do the Seven Mile Bridge Run, which I did. I started really enjoying exercising, and I wanted to challenge myself further, so I decided to do the triathlon.
"I've been doing volunteer work for Samuel's House for some time now, and Dianne and I decided to see if there was some way we could incorporate them into all of this," she said. "So, we approached [Samuel's House Deputy Director] Mindy McKenzie, who told us they were planning to upgrade their security system and could use some help paying for that, so that became part of the plan."
Scott and Delashmit began floating the idea of the run among their friends and readers of Island Jane, which Scott founded to remind the ladies of the Keys that there are social activities down this way that don't necessarily involve alcohol or unhealthy activities.
As Team Island Jane began to attract new members, many of whom had never even run a 5K before, Scott and Delashmit reached out to local fitness coach Amy Bradshaw, who also serves as co-director of the TRIKW, for help.
"We were all pretty nervous," Scott said. "But Amy loved the idea of what we wanted to do and offered to train us, for free, beginning in August. She said that with the right attitude and training, anybody could do a triathalon. We put it out there on Facebook, and before long we had a pretty good following. It's weird how quickly it took off."
To be clear, this isn't that body-busting "Ultra Distance" triathlon of Ironman fame, which involves running a full marathon, swimming 2.4 miles, and bicycling 112 miles.
The Key West event offers two options: Sprint or Olympic.
The Sprint course includes a nearly half-mile swim from Higgs Beach, a 12-mile bike ride along South Roosevelt Boulevard, and a 3.1-mile run along Smathers Beach. The Olympic course is a bit longer, including a near 1-mile swim followed by an almost 25-mile pedal and a 6.21-mile run.
There are also relay team divisions to allow teams to divide the course and still compete.
Team Island Jane will be fielding competitors in all divisions with the goal of raising $15,000 for the security upgrades.
Samuel's House founder and CEO Elmira Leto is thrilled to have Team Island Jane, and the community spirit they represent, in her corner.
"I think they're an amazing group of women we have fallen in love with because of all their dedication, and their hard work to help women and children of the community," Leto said. "We're getting an upgrade to our security system that's long overdue, and they've also committed to a couple of other things as well after the triathlon. It's a great feeling knowing that a big group of Keys women has your back."
The members of Team Island Jane will be present at the finish line Saturday to present a check to Leto and other members of the Samuel's House staff.
To donate to Samuel's House, on behalf of Team Island Jane, log onto www.razoo.com and search for Team Island Jane. Interested parties can also donate directly to Samuel's House by calling Mindy McKenzie at 305-296-0240, ext. 11.
For information, visit www.islandjanemagazine.com, or search for the Island Jane page on Facebook.