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Woodruff too fast for biathlon field

Race director Steve Strange was quite pleased when St. Petersburg triathlete John Woodruff showed up at the Palm Pavilion for his annual Strangeman's Beach Biathlon on July 31.

It meant there would be a tough run/swim/run competition, and winning this beach biathlon gives local athletes their share of bragging rights, at least for the remainder of the hot summer.

Woodruff, owner of Dig Me Sports, a Largo triathlon store, made it look easy as he took off with last year's winner, Rene Plascencia, and widened the gap.

"The water was rough, but for those of us who swim out there in the gulf, we were at an advantage over the pool swimmers," said fourth-place finisher J.P. Atherholt of Oldsmar.

"John broke away with the guy who won last year, and that guy looked like he missed a buoy. He just quit!" Atherholt said. "They were so far ahead, he could have just coasted and still got second."

Instead, Clearwater High School track runner Will Hickok got second.

Another running talent, Micah Adriani, won the women's race, with Redington Beach Mad Dog Patricia Farese second, followed by St. Petersburg physician Jennifer Steel, who is coached by Woodruff.

CLYDESDALE/ATHENA SPRINT: Big guys and gals have to get ready. Exclusive Sports Marketing will hold the USA Triathlon Clydesdale/Athena Sprint Triathlon Regional Championship on Sunday, Aug. 22, at Siesta Key.

Strict weigh-ins will be conducted. The women's Athena class minimum weight is 140 pounds; male Clydesdales must weigh at least 185 pounds. There will be special top-five awards for 40-plus and for weights of 185-199, 200-224 and 225-plus.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer John Cannon of Tampa has helped generate interest in these triathlon classes, and at the Strangeman's Beach Biathlon, Steve Adams of Tampa won the "Big Man" category, followed by St. Petersburg's Tony Rivas.

The regional championship at Siesta Key will include a sprint triathlon for age-groupers, and a pre-race dinner will be hosted by Cha Cha Coconuts at St. Armand's Circle in Sarasota on Saturday.

For further information, visit www.exclusivesports.com, or call Steve or Jason at (561) 241-3801.

BAY AREA WOMEN EXCEL: No sooner did St. Petersburg's Laura Drake place sixth overall at Ironman Europe in Roth, Germany, on June 27 (in 9:53:18) than Alison Hayden of Tampa led out of the water to finish fourth overall at Ironman Switzerland near Zurich on Aug. 1 (10:18:29).

Hungarian Peter Kropko, 32, a member of the St. Pete Mad Dogs, was overall winner of Ironman Switzerland. For several years he held the world record for the marathon (2:36) within an Ironman race. His sister, Susan, may relocate her own Ironman training to Tierra Verde later this year.

CLERMONT'S 100TH RACE: Fred Sommer, creator of Central Florida Triathletes and CFT/Sommer Sports, invites all triathletes and relay team members to celebrate his 100th race at Sprint Series race No. 4, on Aug. 29 in Clermont.

Sommers has enjoyed seeing his sprint fields grow to more than 900 entrants, and the distance (swim one-quarter mile, bike 11 miles, run 3 miles) encourages many first-timers, some competing on mountain bikes and hybrid trail bikes.

For information on this summer's final Clermont sprint, and the free barbecue awards dinner, visit www.cftsommersports.com, or call Fred at (352) 394-1320.

TARPON SPRINGS TRIATHLON: Summer vacation must be coming to an end, because the familiar Tarpon Springs Sprint Triathlon fliers are circulating at bay area running and biking shops.

Race director George Nicholas will host the 11th annual event on Sept. 11 at Howard Park in Tarpon Springs. Race distances: swim .25 of a mile, bike 10.5 miles, run 3 miles.

Many local athletes make this their first race, but elites like John Woodruff, Mike Hofstetter, Danny Nolan, Jennifer Steel and Kathleen Kaye sometimes show up for the fun. This event is also notorious for challenges among U.S. Cycling Federation racers like Todd Pardoll, Jim Zimmer, Sam Miller, Jeff Nitz, Jim Marshall and Tony Prioli.

For further information, visit www.cuattheraces.com, or call Nicholas at (727) 934-7478.

RELAY TEAM REQUESTS: Palm Harbor cyclist Dianne Franz is looking for fellow female master and grand master triathletes to form a relay team for bay area competitions. Interested swimmers and runners ages 40 and up can call her at (727) 786-6714.

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