Tyson Pompelia crosses the finish line during last year’s Heart O’ Dixie Triathlon. Pompelia will be trying to win again in this event which will be held July 28.
Tyson Pompelia crosses the finish line during last year’s Heart O’ Dixie Triathlon. Pompelia will be trying to win again in this event which will be held July 28.
Tyson Pompelia, the defending two-time champion for the Heart O’ Dixie Triathlon, says he is getting ready for the 39th running of the event which is scheduled for Saturday, July 28.

Pompelia, a veterinarian in Collinsville, won last year’s event in 1:59.02. His goal this year is to prove on his time.

“I’m looking forward to coming back and competing on this course again,” Pompelia said. “The swim is fun and I enjoy the bike ride. But the run is tough. The road is hard and is pitched so you are running on the side and trying not to run off in a ditch.

“It’s hot and you are tired, but then you come to the gates of the Neshoba County Fair. You start getting some momentum there. People are cheering for you and encouraging you, especially when you get to the Grandstands.”

 Pompelia has been running and competing for nearly six years.

“My first race was the Race For Grace Triathlon that they used to have,” Pompelia said. “After that, I decided to try the Heart O’ Dixie. I was questioning that decision my first time out. It was raining and I was biking down the highway and big log trucks were passing me. But I have gotten used to that.”

Usually, rain is not a problem, it’s the heat.

Pompelia said his goal is to improve his time every year. In his first year, he finished 175th overall. He finished 12th the next year and third overall during his third try, He won in 2016 with a time of 2:02.04 and finished with a 1:59.02 time last year.

“I am very competitive and I like to challenge myself,” Pompelia said. “I set two goals. I want to win and I want to do better than last year.

Pompelia said he trains about 12 to 15 hours a week. He has been competing in other events. He won the Heatwave triathlon which was held at the Barnett Reservoir earlier this summer. And he placed fourth overall in an event in Chattanooga, Tenn., which drew around 800 runners.

This weekend, he will be competing in the Sunfish Triathlon which is being held at Bonita Lakes Park in Meridian.

The Heart O’ Dixie is a fund-raising project of the Philadelphia Sertoma Club. All of the money it raises goes back into the community.

At this point, 130 people have registered for this year’s Heart O’ Dixie. For more information, please see the Heart O’ Dixie website.