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Crystal River attracts 200-plus competitors

The ninth annual Crystal River Rotary Triathlon was at Fort Island Gulf Beach Park on Friday.

The Crystal River area's popularity among adventure racers, mountain bike riders and triathletes was evident in the 279-person field.

The event was won by Will Iaia of Denver in 1 hour, 6 seconds. Race distances were a quarter-mile swim, 15-mile bike ride and 3-mile run.

Tampa's Rob Skaggs tried hard for a win, missing it by 2 seconds after finishing as the overall runner-up.

Skaggs told his fellow athletes that he will return to the same location Aug. 2 for the Twilight Tri.

Dave Rowland of North Redington Beach won the Crystal River triathlon's top Masters award with a time of 1:01:45.

Ashley Carusone, 18, of High Springs was the fastest female, 1:07:55. St. Petersburg's Lisa Plescia placed second and was the top Masters female with a 1:09:38 performance.

For information on Fort Island Gulf Beach events, contact race director Rick Brown, (352) 563-6672 or rickcrtri.com.

ORLANDO RACE: Coaches and junior development team triathletes traveled from Clermont's National Training Center to Belle Isle for the Orlando Sprint Triathlon on Sunday.

Last-minute timing glitches at Warren Park delayed the start of the event at Lake Conway.

The flat and fast race was won by multisport coach Ric Rosenkranz of Clermont. He completed the quarter-mile swim, 11-mile bike ride and 3-mile run in 51 minutes.

Rosenkranz's wife, Sara, a USA Triathlon coach, was the top female, winning in 57:10.

After the competition, the two coaches had an outdoor cycling clinic at Warren Park.

Sporting her magic-marker race numbers on her arms and legs, Sara pedalled her bicycle aboard a Blackburn trainer. The coaches answered questions about proper bike fit and aerodynamics.

"I think the hillier the course, the more you could make a case for road-bike geometry" Sara said. "But in these flat Florida races, the aero triathlon position you get on a 650-wheel tri bike is the way to go."

The coaches, also personal trainers, met while studying kinesiology in graduate school at University of Kansas.

They married in 1991, moved to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, then relocated to central Florida after the completion of Clermont's National Training Center.

Making use of a goniometer, which looks like a ruler but expands to measure an athlete's body angles on a racing cycle, Ric talked about Lance Armstrong and the theory of having a flat back during time trials.

"Lance had an injury in his lower back when he was younger," Rosenkranz said.

"Lance will never get that familiar hump out of his back. But guys at that level, they know what works," Rosenkranz said. "He is one of the best time trialists in the world."

Belle Isle city clerk Bev Bateman played host to the Mini Clinic Under The Trees. She hopes Bill Brooks, mayor of the town of 6,000, attends the next triathlon.

"I met Gary Garrett when he came into our city hall, talking about bringing a triathlon to Belle Isle," said Bateman, an Orlando native.

"I had never heard of a triathlon, but now I see that these people are some of the nicest and healthiest people I have ever met."

Physically Challenged winner Jeff Sapper of nearby Oakland also spoke at Warren Park.

Sapper, 47, racing in his wheelchair, is a familiar sight at triathlons and road events. He says he usually gets more cheers than the overall race winners.

"I have been working to get triathlon included in the Paralympics in Greece next year," Sapper said. "That project keeps me busy night and day.

"Fred Sommer gave me my triathlon start at his Clermont races, and our team is getting more and more recognition.

"After my silver medal at Worlds in Cancun last November, people recognize me more," Sapper said. "But we still have a lot of work to do, and hopefully our team can compete in Greece."

The Paralympic competition is shortly after the Olympic Games, summer and winter.

To contact Sapper, director of Winter Garden's Physically Challenged Sports Foundation, call (407) 656-6187 or send an e-mail to jsapperpcsports.org.

For information on Garrett's triathlons and duathlons, go online to www.dutrievents.com.

SUNDAY'S CRASH: Members of the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club and St. Pete Mad Dog Triathlon Club are visiting each other in the hospital and assessing damages to their equipment after the accident with a motorist in St. Petersburg.

"One minute, our group was riding along at 18 miles per hour, kind of relaxing and talking," triathlete Debra Ryder said.

"Next I knew, I had to dive off the road when I saw bodies flying, hitting the hood of the car, and I heard people screaming.

"I'll never in my life forget that sound of bicycles crunching," said the 51-year-old, who was cycling with her husband, James. "I'm so glad our son was not riding with us. We were lucky nobody was killed."

In November, Ryder will compete in her first Ironman Triathlon, at Panama City Beach. The event, which features a 112-mile bike segment, requires more training.

"We have been trying to ride more miles, getting closer to Ironman Florida," Ryder said. "I guess that means you will be exposed more because you are out there on the road more."

After the crash, Ryder, a Redington Beach nurse, put her bike on the grass and rushed to see if she could help the hurt cyclists.

"The neighbors all came out with cell phones for us to call our families and with sheets to cover up with, and also with water to drink," Ryder said.

For updates on the cyclists or to send cards or letters, go online to www.stpetemaddogs.com.

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