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First Nature Coast winter event is set

Most people think of Crystal River Mall as a place to shop.

On Sunday, some athletes will be running and bicycling around it.

They will be taking part in the first Nature Coast Winter Duathlon. It's scheduled for 8:30 a.m. just off U.S. 19 near K-Mart.

Chris Moling, race director, said it's gaining participants after two fall events.

"I have 50 preregistered," Moling said. "That's more than we had in the two previous races. We are expecting a good turnout. This might turn out to be a spring duathlon."

Moling said the weather is expected to be beautiful, with temperatures in the 70s.

The event consists of a 2-mile run, 10-mile bike ride and 2-mile run. Unlike triathlons, there is no swimming.

Todd Fitzgerald of Dunnellon won the fall races. The Dunnellon High School senior runs cross country and trained at the national triathlon center in Clermont last summer.

DRC Athletic Event Management is sponsoring the Nature Coast Winter Duathlon. Proceeds will benefit the Sheriff's Explorer Post.

"Duathlons are gaining in popularity," Moling said. "This is good for people who don't swim or are not good swimmers. It is a sprint distance and really easy to do."

It's fun for the fans, too.

"It's a good spectator event," Moling said. "People can watch their athletes in transition. The race doesn't take that long."

The preregistration fee is $35. Entry on the day of race also is available. For information, call (352) 726-4407.