Archive for Wednesday, July 9, 2008

SM Triathlon seeks boost from DeBoom

July 9, 2008

For the past 23 years, fitness fanatics and those wishing to test the limits of their endurance have known that one area event offered the ultimate Kansas City metro area rite of passage - the Shawnee Mission Triathlon.

The scenic triathlon course through the hills and waters of Shawnee Mission Park has been both pleasing and tormenting area racers since the 1980s. Its normal July start time has meant participants have sometimes been subject to heat as well as to the course's twists and turns. Yet every year, more and more triathletes flock to the park for a race that has become a local staple and a legitimate national fixture.

This summer, the 2008 race has further established the triathlon's legitimacy with the appearance of one of triathlon's greatest athletes - Tim DeBoom.

DeBoom, winner of the 2001 and 2002 Ironman World Championships and current No. 1-ranked American at the Ironman distance, arrives at the Shawnee Mission competition after having taken fourth at the 2007 World Championships. His appearance in the Shawnee Mission Triathlon not only boosts the race's competition level, but it also serves as a prelude to DeBoom's appearance in the Leadville 100 Ultramarathon Trail Race in August.

Race Director Chad Tower, in his third year serving as the competition's organizer, noted the reaction by the local race community of enlisting a competitor the stature of DeBoom was one of wonderful surprise.

"When we announced that he was coming to Kansas City, we had a lot of comments about people not believing it," Tower said.

The Shawnee Mission race is set for 7 a.m. Sunday, July 13, at Shawnee Mission Park. There is both a short course and a long course for the event, and each course will use paths on the Mill Creek Streamways system for at least part of the race. DeBoom's race, the long (international) course features a 1,000-meter swim, 18-mile bike race and a 4.5-mile run.

DeBoom, who will be joined by wife and fellow highly-ranked triathlete Nicole DeBoom, will be accessible to the public and interested racers this week as he makes a variety of appearances leading up to the race. On Friday, DeBoom will appear at BikeSource at 135th and Quivira to speak with customers and to welcome racers who wish to pick up their race packets. The DeBooms then will be at the packet pickup at the course at 4 p.m. Saturday and will speak to racers there.

Tower said he's noticed a significant increase not only in the number of participants through the past 10 years, but also in the quality of competition.

Local area racers like the Schloegel family (featuring last year's winner Ben Schloegel and his cousins Bob and Matt), who participate in races across the country, have helped elevate the caliber of racing.

It also helps when your course is one of the most scenic in the area and your race is one of the most well-organized.

"We have one of the most beautiful parks around," Tower said. "Our race is on a closed course, so the safety factor for our athletes is really good."

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