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Storm Tri Club moves triathlon from Siesta Beach to Benderson Park

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stormtriclubmeetingAfter years of beach triathlons, the Sarasota Storm Tri Club is shifting gears ...  running in a different direction ... diving into something new. What I’m trying to say here is that the club is moving Sunday’s Florida International Triathlon to Benderson Park.
Goodbye, Siesta Beach.
Hello, Interstate 75.
Nicole Chapman, president of the Sarasota Storm, thinks the rowing lake off University Parkway just might be the future of FIT.
“Once this facility is finished, it’s going to be like Disney World for triathlons,” she said. “We’re really excited about it.”
Chapman expects some racers to miss Siesta Key. She hopes others will be curious about swimming, biking and running out of Benderson Park.
I know I was curious about the park. That’s why I went to the Tri Club meeting out there last week.
It’s always fun to drive past past a bunch of “Do Not Enter” signs.

stormtriclubshoeRowing $20 million
Benderson Park, in case you haven’t heard, is the Sarasota County rowing facility that came out of a real estate development. What started out as a $5 million project has become a $20 million county investment — so far — in drawing national and international events.
That’s a lot of oars in the water.
What tickles me is the very idea of rowing as a sport to subsidize. That’s so Sarasota. It’s hard to imagine more of an Ivy League sport, or one that draws more wealthy and priviledged athletes.
Well, maybe polo, but you know what I mean — and there’s already a polo club in Lakewood Ranch.
Maybe I’m missing the point. Maybe the whole idea is to draw well-to-do rowers, families and friends to Sarasota. And maybe naming a park after a developer makes perfect sense.
It’s all about the money, right?

stormtriclubproneIsland of fitness
Having said all that, Benderson Park is pretty impressive. It’s still under construction, but it already looks like an island of fitness just off the interstate.
Local crew clubs row back and forth on the lake. Besides the triathlon this weekend, there will be a 5K run and paddle boarding races and demonstrations.
The Sarasota Storm Tri Club looked right at home on an island in the lake.
I always get a kick out of the local triathletes. Lots of healthy, high-spirited people. Lots of folks with tattoos on their calves and ankles.
Chapman stood on a picnic table to talk about this weekend’s event. She wore a red Storm jersey with black cycling shorts that said “Chappy” on the backside. She had a spectacular set of bruises on her leg from a recent cycling accident.
The Tri Club isn’t sure what kind of crowd to expect for the first FIT at Benderson, but volunteers have to be ready.
"Regardless if there’s 100 people or 200," Chapman said, "we’re going to put on a good race for them."

bendersonparkmap

Interested?The Florida International Triathlon will begin at 7 a.m. Sunday at Benderson Park, 2500 N. Honore Ave., Sarasota. There will be sprint and international distance races. On Saturday, there will be a Girls on the Run 5K at 8 a.m., along with stand-paddle boarding races and demonstrations. For more information, visit fitriathlon.com.
Last modified: April 30, 2013
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