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Setting the big payoff in this ride

Published September 27, 2006

Touring bicyclists, enthusiasts, racers and their families from Citrus County are hosting the 12th annual Rails to Trails Bike Ride at the N. Apopka Ave. Withlacoochee Trail Crossing in Inverness from 7-9 a.m. on Oct. 1.

This ride is an enjoyable tour not a race and each fall attracts riders who want to get in fitness miles on a scenic, gentle course while supporting Florida Department of Environmental Protection Greenways and Trails.

All cyclists are welcome, and they will need the appropriate gear, including cycling helmets and properly maintained bicycles. Rides are 14 miles, 32 miles, 46 miles, 60 miles and 90 miles. Triathletes who are training for upcoming Ironman events may choose to loop around on the Withlacoochee State Trail, which is 46 miles on the most popular route.

For more information, call (352) 527-3263 or e-mail

STRANGEMAN'S BEACH BIATHLON: The 14th annual biathlon will start at Palm Pavilion in Clearwater Beach at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 14.

Clearwater race director Steve Strange, a top Clydesdale triathlete and cyclist, expects one of the biggest fields ever. The event consists of 2-mile run, .25 mile-swim, 2-mile run and .25-mile swim, and the field always features the area's top beach lifeguards, triathletes, swimmers and runners. Top five in most divisions will win awards.

"This year's Strangeman's Beach Biathlon will be the biggest yet," Strange said. "So many have called early because they want to race near the Ironman 70.3 swim course. I think the athletes are already getting into the spirit because of that race, which will be in November.

"They say they want to get a feel for the course here out on Clearwater Beach."

To register or volunteer, e-mail Suzanne Henslee at or call Henslee at (727) 642-3929.

GREAT FLORIDIAN: Fred Sommer and his CFT/Sommer Sports staff and volunteers welcome all multisport enthusiasts for race weekend at the Great Floridian Triathlon XVI at Clermont's Lake Minneola Waterfront Park on Oct. 21 at 7:30 am.

Widely known as "the people's Ironman" because there is no official qualifying race required, the GFT is a full Ironman distance triathlon: swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles.

Some athletes make a vacation of the Great Floridian Triathlon Festival, staying in Clermont hotels and condos or camping nearby. The St. Pete Mad Dogs are most active in Sommer's race-course water-stop competition, earning thousands in cash prizes for their imaginative water stops.

Many clubs and schools set up water stops along Lake Minneola, which help athletes survive the grueling 26.2-marathon run to the finish line in downtown Clermont. Runners must circle the lake three times.

In the past, members of the St. Pete Mad Dogs have constructed theme water stops, including a Halloween haunted house, a pirate ship and a Hawaiian luau, complete with music, palm trees and hula dancers. The GFT message board posts feature stories of camaraderie and encouragement amid the party atmosphere.

GFT is sanctioned by USA Triathlon. Top 10 awards will be given in most USAT divisions. The GFT is only one of three triathlons taking place on Oct. 21.

Other events include the 22nd annual Florida Challenge Triathlon (half Ironman triathlon distance: swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13.1 miles) and the shorter Super Sprint Triathlon.

In 2005, Joe Bonness (Naples Area Triathletes Team) became the first three-time overall winner of the GFT. Bonness' previous wins at GFT took place in 2001 and 2003. At 50, Bonness set another record as the oldest GFT winner in 9 hours, 56 minutes, 43 seconds.

Among the best recent female performances: Christina Noordstar (Team Hersports), 30, of Tierre Verde won the Florida Challenge Triathlon in 2003, the only female to reach the finish line of the half Ironman triathlon distance, under five hours, in 4:58:19.

Call Sommer to compete or volunteer at (352) 394-1320 or e-mail

SAND KEY TRIATHLON: St. Petersburg professional triathlete Hank Campbell continued on his winning streak by sprinting to a solid victory at last Sunday's triathlon in Clearwater's Sand Key Park.

Triathlon distances were swim 1/3 mile, bike 11 miles and run 3.1 miles, with Campbell, 27, winning in 55 minutes flat.

The women's winner was Hollie Kenney, 34, of Baltimore, Md., in 1:01:23.

Division winners included Brock Nardozzi, 19, Belleair Bluffs, 1:30:51; Kerry Sullivan, 24, St. Petersburg, 58:27; Gus Rodriguez, 28, St. Petersburg, 58:06; Bob Wagoner, 33, Seminole, 57:49; Robert Maue, 38, Clearwater, 1:00:38; Paul Norris, 46, North Redington Beach, 1:02:15; George Chase, 59, St. Pete Beach, 1:08:08; Harold Singer, 65, Largo, 1:18:48; Larry Yost, 76, Treasure Island 1:22:53; top Male Master Rob Gomez, 46, North Redington Beach, 59:18; Angelica Compton, 14, Clearwater, 1:13:08; Marni Rakes, 24, New Port Richey, 1:07:09; Elizabeth Kostreva, 27, St. Petersburg, 1:10:05; Joanne Wright, 31, Palm Harbor, 1:18:29; Tracy Parker, 36, Odessa, 1:00:46; Laure Blume, 40, Pinellas Park, 1:04:27; Terry Repp, 52, Palm Harbor, 1:16:51; Dawn Shea, 56, St. Petersburg, 1:37:16; Cathy deHaan, 64, Seminole, 1:39:07; Annette Frisch, 65, St. Petersburg, 1:26:04; Jackie Yost, 78, Treasure Island, 1:49:09; top First Timer Jacquelyn Magee, 23, Seminole, 1:18:16; and top Female Master Claudia Junqueira, 43, St. Petersburg, 1:03:42.

SARASOTA RACING: Local USA Cycling racers have been racing hard to earn Florida Series Points. Top local bicycle racers earning points last week include Carmine Pici (Team Hotmark/Sweetbay) of St. Petersburg Sheila Mitchell (Outspokin) of Largo Pascal Yugy (Team Gearlink) of Clearwater and Chris Magazino (BBC) of St. Petersburg.

[Last modified September 27, 2006, 07:26:41]

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