By Pete Williams
But rarely is it possible to attempt two triathlons in one day. This year, through a quirk of Leap Year scheduling, the early morning Top Gun Triathlon and Twilight Triathlon (7:30 p.m.) both take place on July 28.
The promoters are encouraging triathletes to complete the “Sunrise Sunset Triathlon.” Athletes who manage to attend both events, which are roughly 100 miles apart, will receive a Sunrise Sunset T-shirt, along with T-shirts for each of the events.
“We’re getting a lot of interest from people who want to do both,” says Chris Mohling, whose DRC Sports company puts on the Twilight Triathlon. “It’s an unusual opportunity for triathletes to test themselves.”
We’re big fans of both well-organized events, staged by promoters who each put on multiple events apiece at the July 28 venue. The 12th annual Top Gun Triathlon, with its quarter-mile swim in usually calm waters, along with a 10-mile bike and 5K run, at beautiful Fort De Soto Park in St. Petersburg, is a favorite among first-timers, drawing about 1,100 athletes. It’s the second of three Fort De Soto triathlons staged each year by longtime race director Fred Rzymek.
The sixth-annual Twilight Triathlon (quarter-mile swim, 10-mile bike, 3-mile run) is one of four events DRC Sports puts on from the end of W. Fort Island Trail in Crystal River. It’s the only one that starts in the evening, and most athletes finish as the sun sets. That’s not an unusual experience for Ironman athletes, who can take 12 hours or more to complete a race, but it’s not something sprint triathletes experience often. At the Twilight Triathlon, athletes must have lights on their bike and wear reflective clothing on the run.
The Twilight Triathlon is held at a smaller venue that accommodates about 400 athletes, but it’s a popular beach site. Athletes typically hang out for an hour or two after the race for the post-event party.
The toughest part of racing in two triathlons on July 28 might not be the distance of the events or between events but rather managing sleep and recovery. Most athletes typically get up around 4 a.m. for a morning triathlon.
“There’s probably going to be a nap involved for most,” says Rzymek, who will work his own Top Gun event and then race the Twilight Triathlon. “There aren’t many people who can say they’ve done two triathlons in one day.”
(Listen to our interview with Twilight Triathlon race director Chris Mohling on The Fitness Buff Show HERE.)