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Brockett wins, Royal survives in half-Ironman

Bob Brockett captures his age division while Phil Royal's doubts turn to excited optimism as he finishes the Gulf Coast Triathlon.

Midway through the most grueling race of his life, Phil Royal had one prevailing thought: "I'm never doing this again."

When it was over, Royal had decided that maybe triathlons aren't so bad.

Royal and Crystal River dentist Bob Brockett recently competed in the Gulf Coast Triathlon in Panama City, a half-Ironman event consisting of a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike leg and 13.1-mile run.

Brockett, a longtime triathlete, won the Clydesdale over-40 division with a time of 5 hours, 15 minutes, 11 seconds. He finished 8 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher.

"The conditions were brutal," said Royal, who was competing in his first half-Ironman event. "It was hot and it was windy, which made the water very choppy. It was just absolutely brutal. Imagine going out for a long run at 11 a.m. with the temperatures in the 90s."

Royal, a Citrus County school resource officer at the Renaissance Center, is competing in smaller triathlons this summer in preparation for his first Ironman competition in November.

He finished the Gulf Coast Triathlon in 5:47.25, but admits that midway through he was second-guessing himself.

"It's so funny to say you enjoy it because while I was doing it I was saying, "I'll never do a full Ironman, I'll never do this, why am I out here?,' " Royal said. "But then within an hour after it, I was ready to train again. Literally, hours after the race I was already thinking about the Ironman I'm going to do in November.

"I'm real glad I did it. I wish my run had been stronger because that's where I lost a lot of time. But based on the conditions, I'm happy."

Royal competed in a triathlon in Madeira Beach on Sunday that consisted of a half-mile swim, 15-mile bike leg and 3-mile run. He finished 15th out of 55 participants.

"Compared to (Gulf Coast) it was nothing because it was so much shorter," he said. "But I felt a lot better and everything was faster, which made you feel better. I beat some guys I don't normally beat, so that was real cool."

Brockett and Royal will compete in the Ironman of Florida in Panama City in November.