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Elite junior triathletes to race with top performers in the Morton Plan Mease Triathlon

Aspiring young athletes will compete with some of the world's top triathletes in this year's Morton Plant Mease Triathlon on July 12.

The fourth annual event has been chosen as the site of the 2009 USAT Florida Region Junior Championship. The race will give elite junior triathletes, ages 15 to 19, a rare opportunity to compete alongside champions. It is also an opportunity for the USA Triathlon organization to identify potential future Olympians. It will also be used as a junior qualifier for the 2009 International Triathlon Union Sprint Distance World Championship.

"These young competitors will participate in the elite wave, giving them the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities to the USA Triathlon scouts who are there to identify the best junior talent the southeast has to offer; there aren't many races that allow them to do that," said Philip Lahaye, Morton Plant Mease Triathlon race director. About 50 junior elite triathletes are expected to participate.

Elite competitors registered for this year's triathlon include Heather Gollnick of Lakewood Ranch, a five-time Ironman champion and female winner of the 2006 Morton Plant Mease Triathlon and Palm Harbor's Spencer Smith, a three-time World Triathlon champion and two-time Ironman champion. He has competed in every Morton Plant Mease Triathlon. Nina Craft is this year's Gasparilla Marathon female winner. Craft holds the 2007 Florida Ironman title, breaking the course record by 20 minutes. She was also the winner in the 2007 Ironman Brazil. The Clermont resident is competing in the race for the first time.

The course begins with a 1/3-mile open water swim in the Gulf of Mexico at Sand Key Park. From there, the 13-mile bike route crosses Sand Key Causeway, heads through Clearwater Beach and over the Memorial Causeway, then winds through downtown Clearwater and Belleair and over the Belleair Beach Causeway. Competitors complete the race with a 3.1-mile run through Sand Key Park.

A $4,000 purse will be distributed to the top five Elite/Open Division male and female finishers. Custom plaques will be awarded to the top five male and female finishers in each division and top three teams in each relay division. All race finishers will receive a custom medal.

Race fees are $70 per person and $85 per relay team. After Sunday, fees increase $5. Entry fees are nonrefundable. Participants can register online at Registration closes on July 8 and no registration will be offered on the day of the race.

Registration is limited to 1,000 entries.

Proceeds from the triathlon will help fund the purchase of an infant simulator for advanced training of emergency care workers.

Seminars, classes and support groups

NAR-ANON FAMILY GROUP MEETINGS: 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Mondays (except holidays) at 517 Crystal Beach Ave., Crystal Beach; 7 p.m. Tuesdays at First United Methodist Church, Fellowship Hall, Room F108, 421 Main St., Dunedin; and 7 p.m. Wednesdays at St. Paul's Methodist Church, Room 102, 1199 Highland Ave., Largo. E-mail nara or visit

OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS MEETINGS: 10:15 a.m. Mondays at Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, 1555 Windmill Pointe Road, Palm Harbor; 11 a.m., Thursdays, First Presbyterian Church, 455 Scotland St., Dunedin; 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 7:30 and 10 a.m. Saturdays at Palm Harbor Presbyterian Church, 2021 Nebraska Ave.; and 2 p.m. Saturdays at the Dry Dock, 1733 Alt. U.S. 19, Tarpon Springs. Call (727) 327-4555 or visit

RECOVERY INC., SUPPORT GROUP FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at Grace Lutheran Church, 1812 N Highland Ave., Clearwater. Call (727) 525-1749.

TOPS (TAKE OFF POUNDS SENSIBLY): 9-10 a.m. weigh-in, 10-11 a.m. meeting every Thursday at United Methodist Church, 1025 Union St., Clearwater. Call Beulah Little at (727) 461-7101. There is a fee for this class.

Hands for hope 'chemo brain' support group: 6 p.m. Monday (the first Monday of the month), Cheek-Powell Heart and Vascular Pavilion, 455 Pinellas St., Clearwater, (727) 462-7500.

early stage alzheimer's support group for patients: 1 p.m. Monday and July 20, Ptak Orthopaedic and Neuroscience Pavilion, Room 114. RSVP to (727) 298-6384.

birth center tour: 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Mease Countryside Hospital, 3231 McMullen Booth Road, Safety Harbor, (727) 462-7500.

Elite junior triathletes to race with top performers in the Morton Plan Mease Triathlon 06/29/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 29, 2009 7:05pm]
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