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Area athletes stay focused to compete

Events held in between the recent stormy weekends have produced top performances from area cyclists and triathletes.

The multisport competitors who chose to brave the weather and travel conditions swam, cycled and ran their way to national and world championships.

The athletes say it was tough to leave their homes and concentrate on racing with the latest hurricane approaching.

But when an entire season is focused on reaching the podium, even if it's in a faraway place, a difficult decision must be made.

On Sept. 18, a trip to Shreveport, La., for the USA Triathlon National Championships paid off for locals who qualified for the 2005 World Championships in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The following triathletes were among those who qualified for Team USA after the 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike ride and 10K run.

Myrna Haag, 45, Tampa, with a performance of 2 hours, 25 minutes, 26 seconds; Bo Webster, 60, Lutz, 2:32:52; Don Ardell, 66, St. Petersburg, 2:28:45; Dennis Gatto, 69, South Pasadena, 3:09:12; Larry Yost, 74, Treasure Island, 3:32:31; and Jackie Yost, 76, Treasure Island, 3:56:03.

HENRY WINS: Earl Henry (West Coast Wheelmen), of Pinellas Park, won the UCI Masters World Track Championships on the wooden indoor velodrome in Manchester, England, on Sept. 15.

Henry, 63, who works as an electrical engineering consultant, captured another world title in the 500-meter event, posting a time of 36.545 seconds.

Henry's coach, Lucy Tyler, had recommended the use of two solid disc wheels on Henry's track bike, and it paid off.

Henry and California's Victor Copeland (U.S. Postal Service Masters Team) have been trading national and world track crowns back and forth over the years.

Finishing at speeds in excess of 40 mph, Henry also won a silver medal in the sprint event.

MORE AREA VICTORIES: Christina Noordstar, 27, of Tierra Verde won the women's overall title in the Duke University Half Ironman Triathlon in Raleigh, N.C., on Sept. 25. High school running and swimming talent Alexandria Lechner, 16, of Clearwater, topped her division in the Central Florida Triathlon Summer Series in Clermont.

Bradenton's David Kyle won the Physically Challenged division in the USAT National Championships in Shreverport, and Patricia Hoffman, 54, of Palm Harbor, took the Female Masters Overall crown in the Crystal River Triathlon Summer Series.

EVENTS RESCHEDULED: Cycling and triathlon events have been postponed and rescheduled, while others have remained the same. Here's the latest news:

+ The Orlando Criterium now is set for Oct. 23.

+ The USA Cycling Florida State Road Race Championships will be Oct. 24 near Orlando.

There also will be in-line skating competitions Oct. 23 on the criterium course at 6 p.m. Evening racing for Pro 1-2 riders will follow.

For information, go online to www.buttar.com.

+ Cyclefest Weekend is Thursday-Sunday in West Palm Beach. Go to www.floridacycling.com.

+ The 10th annual Rails To Trails Withlacoochee Ride is Sunday at the North Apopka Trail Crossing. Registration is set for 7-9 a.m.

Participants may choose to ride any distance, and most pick 32 or 46 miles. A 92-miler will be available for those wishing to log Ironman distance training on the Withlacoochee State Trail.

Last year, nearly 1,000 riders took part in the fund-raiser. Go oline to www.railstotrailsonline.com or call (352) 527-3263.

+ Clearwater's multisport festival weekend is Oct. 9-10.

Triathlon information is at www.sandkeytriathlon.com, and Clearwater Bicycle Classic racing information is at www.clearwaterclassic.com.

NEW RIDES: The Suncoast Cycling Club will play host to a new weekly recreational Saturday ride, which will depart at 8:30 a.m. from Curlew Road and Alternate 19 in Dunedin.

"The pace will be casual, about 12-15 mph," organizer Dottie Jessup said.

"We started a casual Wednesday ride on the Pinellas Trail, and it's extremely popular," she said. "The Suncoast recreational Saturday ride is already attracting an interesting mix of casual riders."

For information, go online to www.suncoastcycling.com or call (727) 781-2925.

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