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Clearwater Beach preps for worlds

Published August 2, 2006

An international field of triathletes that enjoys the half-Ironman distance events is being assembled and will compete at the Ford Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater Beach on Nov. 11.

That race distance is half the standard Ironman distance triathlon - competitors will swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13. 1 miles, for a total of 70.3 miles.

Qualifying races are being held from England to Mexico, and locals are ramping up their training plans in hopes of standing on the stage with their age group top 10 at the awards.

According to swim coordinator Bev Buysse, who is a national champion lifeguard and a world class triathlete from St. Petersburg, the triathletes who will come for the Ford Ironman 70.3 World Championship will be treated to a warm welcome, and an accurate 1.2-mile swim course near Pier 60, which Buysse is measuring.

"I think that the race planning for the 70.3 is going really well for this high-profile event," Buysse said. "Swim, bike and run segments will be seamless, and the venue is going to thrill the European triathletes who will love our weather and the beaches. I hear that Steve Meckfessel and his staff are already working overtime to make this a success."

The official Ford 70.3 Ironman World Championship guide for competitors will appear online during the first week of September. Check for details at

SAND KEY CLINIC: Buysse also is a USA Triathlon Level 1 coach, and she played host at last Saturday's free Amino Vital Chainwheel Drive Triathlon Clinic at Sand Key Park.

Three dozen rookies, or "tri-newbies" as they are often referred as, perfected their skills with drills on many aspects of triathlon, such as swim starts and exits, sight breathing, transition area setup, fast transitions, bicycle etiquette, running and nutrition.

"I'm now getting back in shape after taking time off for school," said St. Petersburg's Jaime Chianese, who works as a cardiology technician at Bayfront Hospital. "My workout plan is aimed at triathlons, and that's the sport I'm using to get back in shape. It's more fun to do three sports."

Like many of the tri-clinic participants, Jim Stanton of Clearwater got his first triathlon under his belt at last month's Morton Plant Mease Triathlon. Now Stanton, 34, says he is excited to be competing in the Clydesdale division at Top Gun Triathlon at Fort DeSoto Park on Saturday.

"After racing at the Morton Plant Tri, I'm totally hooked on the sport of triathlon," Stanton said. "It's lots of fun, and it's fun to train for. We all have lots to learn, and I know my wife is going to talk me into buying a triathlon bike. That will help me go faster, and I'll be ready for next season."

To be placed on the mailing list for future tri-clinics, contact Buysse at or check out .

TOP GUN: Florida Race Place Magazine publisher Joe Fernandez of Tampa is busy putting the finishing touches on the sixth annual Top Gun Triathlon, set for Saturday at Fort DeSoto Park.

Race distances at Top Gun Triathlon are swim .25 mile, bike 11 miles and run 3.1 miles. This race is sanctioned by USA Triathlon. Post-race awards party honors top five finishers in each USAT division, including age group, Clydesdales, Athenas and relay teams.

"We always get a mix of elites and first-timers at this triathlon," race organizer Fred Rzymek said. "The elites like to go super fast, and some of them form a training ride for after the event. And the first-timers like it because, even with this heat we have had, it's not too intimidating."

To volunteer or register, call Fernandez, at 813 874-7223.

FAMILY FITNESS WEEKEND: Fort DeSoto Park will be a popular place for multisport competitors this month. In addition to the sixth annual Top Gun Triathlon Saturday, Fort DeSoto will be the site of the 20th anniversary Family Fitness Weekend Aug. 18-20.

The Family Fitness Weekend offers racing for kids and adults - the Coca Cola Classic Sprint Triathlon, Powerade Duathlon, Kids Triathlon & Duathlon, Lean Cuisine Ocean Mile Swim, In-Line Skate and a 5K running race.

For more information on the Family Fitness Weekend, go to or call Linda Meyer at (561) 241-3801.

ADOPT-A-ROAD: Suncoast Cycling Club members are active with many summer projects, including planning for the club's upcoming Adopt-A-Road Cleanup Ride.

"Riders, volunteers and support vehicle drivers are needed for this special project," said Suncoast Cycling Club member Patricia Crow of Tarpon Springs. "Our next Adopt-A-Road Cleanup Ride will be at Bailey's Bluff and Anclote Road on Aug. 6 at 12:30 p.m. Riders can even sign up for Suncoast membership."

For more information on joining this active bicycle club in north Pinellas County, log on the club Web site at or call the Suncoast Cycling Club hotline at (727) 781-2925.

WINTER WINS: St. Pete Beach triathlete Rachel Winter (Fit For Life Team) celebrated a family vacation to the U.K. by winning last month's Race For Life Cancer Research UK, a 5-kilometer offroad running race. Winter beat a field of 4,000 women, with a time of 20 minutes, 21 seconds.

"Rachel usually cross trains at this time of the year," said Tom Adams, a training partner and Fit For Life Team teammate who rides with Winter on St. Pete Beach. "Her win in this race shows the benefit that most triathletes know about mixing up your training, especially during the summer months in Florida."

[Last modified August 1, 2006, 12:46:25]

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