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Kelly Williamson won the women's division of the Ironman 70.3 Branson triathlon Sept. 19. About 80 amateurs from Springfield participated, including executives in the legal, accounting and financial fields.
Kelly Williamson won the women's division of the Ironman 70.3 Branson triathlon Sept. 19. About 80 amateurs from Springfield participated, including executives in the legal, accounting and financial fields.

After 5: The Extreme Side of Sport

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Potential triathletes, start your training regimens now.

Following the Ironman 70.3 Branson’s debut Sept. 19, the second in a three-year contract is on the calendar for Sept. 18, 2011, says Kathleen Bullock, Branson Convention and Visitors Bureau spokeswoman.

Joining the 25 professional triathletes and 1,300 amateurs who participated were a projected 4,000 spectators, organizers say.

“They lined the course and then came down to Branson Landing,” Bullock says of the viewers along Table Rock Lake for the swim, the Ozark Mountain High Road for the bike route and at Branson Landing for the finish line.

The event is one of a growing number of triathlon events or triathlon-style events in the area, and Springfield boasts at least one triathlete who competes on a world-class level.

Trevor Croley, a Springfield insurance agent at Croley Insurance and Financial Inc., has participated in triathlons since he was in college but started down the professional track about five years ago. He finished 13th in the age 35 to 39 men’s sprint division triathlon and 10th in the age 35 to 39 men’s aquathon, a run-swim-run format, Sept. 18 in the International Triathlon Union World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

It was the second straight year Croley finished 10th in the aquathon, and he was the top U.S. finisher overall.

In Branson, Bullock says 1,350 of the 1,450 who registered participated, a high rate for triathlons. She says most races have an attrition rate of between 20 percent and 30 percent.

Participants representing 41 states – including 300 from Missouri – and seven countries competed, Bullock says. Among the amateur participants, 80 were from Springfield, including Kurt Larson of Larson Law Firm, Joel Alexander of City Utilities, Brian Asberry of Neale & Newman LLP, Dwight Rahmeyer of Trust Company of the Ozarks and Alan Nippes of Samek Fritz & Co.

Professionals from around the world were competing for a $25,000 prize, and the event was one of 34 qualifiers for the 2010 Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Clearwater, Fla.

Competitors swam 1.2 miles in Table Rock Lake, biked 56 miles through Ozarks mountains and ended by running 13.1 miles through downtown Branson. The Branson bike course is considered “one of the toughest on the Ironman 70.3 circuit,” according to www.ironman.com.

A pair of Americans, Kelly Williamson and Ben Hoffman, won their respective women’s and men’s divisions, while Hoffman won overall.

The Branson Ironman should help grow local interest in similar events, Croley says.

“This used to be an extremely crazy thing for people to do,” he says. “As people have gotten into running, doing marathons, it seems like a logical step to try and do these endurance sports. There are so many more people in it today than in the past.”

Potential triathletes in the area have opportunities to get involved with triathlon-style events and a club devoted to multisport events.

The Springfield-Greene County Parks Board will hold its annual Urban Challenge, an event that includes biking, running, walking and paddling, on Oct. 2 at Lake Springfield.

The fourth-annual Republic Tiger Tri was held in August with 396 participants, and the Y-not Tri indoor triathlon was in February at Springfield YMCA’s Ward Branch.

The Republic event, a partnership between the city’s parks and recreation department and the Ozarks Multisport Club, has grown each year since its 2006 inception, says Jared Keeling, Republic parks and recreation director.

“It’s turned out to be an absolutely wonderful partnership,” Keeling says. “They have a little more of the knowledge as far as race production, and we can provide day-of assistance, registration, so it’s been a wonderful partnership.”  

Keeling says Republic’s fifth-annual event will be Aug. 13.[[In-content Ad]]

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