It's nearly time for the 34th annual Heart O' Dixie Triathlon and preparations are under way like clockwork, according to race director Shan Winstead.

The annual event will be held Saturday, July 27, and is sponsored each year by the Philadelphia Sertoma Club.

The race course covers a lot of ground.

The triathlon starts with the .5 mile swim at Lake Tiak-O'Khata in Louisville.

The swim is followed by a 27.5 mile bike race which progresses through the rolling red clay hills down Highway 25 to Philadelphia.

It concludes with a seven-mile run to the grandstands at Neshoba County Fair.

"There are many small steps to make that five hour event happen," Winstead said. "Basically, every member in the club has a job and many have been doing it for years. We know what to do.

"On race day, there are so many people like that who help with the triathlon. Some, we don't ever talk to. They take care of things every year. That's what makes the Heart O' Dixie successful."

More than 300 competitors are expected for the event.

The Heart O' Dixie is the longest continuing triathlon in the United States and is sponsored by the Philadelphia Sertoma Club.

Winstead said preparations begin in January when they put up the website where people can enter.

Other tasks such as planning the T-shirt are taken care of throughout the year.

Nathan Davis of Ruston, La., won last year's race with a time of 1:57:42.