The Los Angeles Triathlon, an event where professional and amateur athletes walk, bike and swim along a course that covers over 30 miles, begins with the swimming portion of the event at 6:45 a.m. Sunday, September 9th, at Venice Beach adjacent to the Venice Pier (ocean end of Washington Boulevard), Venice.

Following the ocean swim, the point-to-point course winds through Hollywood by bike and finishes in downtown Los Angeles after the completion of the running segment.

Athletes begin by swimming from the Venice Pier to an area of the beach near Venice Boulevard. They then bike east down Venice Boulevard, head north on Fairfax, eventually making their way to Hollywood Boulevard along the Walk of Fame en route to the STAPLES Center in downtown Los Angeles.

In all, the 24-mile bike route travels through Venice, the Fairfax District, Museum Row, Hancock Park, Hollywood, Chinatown, Elysian Park and Downtown L.A. areas. The triathlon concludes with a running portion mainly along Grand Avenue downtown. The 6.2 mile run course also hits Pico Boulevard and Figueroa, 11th and 12th Streets, ending at Gilbert Lindsey Plaza at Staples Center.

Organizers report that registration is up seven percent this year and more amateur and recreational athletes have signed up.

The triathlon was first developed in 1973 to add endurance to traditional track workouts as well as break the monotony of standard routines. The three-sport training caters to recreational athletes and fitness buffs who want variety in their exercise regimes, organizers say.

The first triathlon competition was held in 1974 at Mission Bay, which put the triathlon on the map of professional sports, organizers say.

Triathlon divisions include Olympic distance triathlon (pros, elite amateur and age group), sprint distance triathlon, three-person relay teams and a bike-only segment.

So what kind of athlete is drawn to participate in the triathlon? Statistics that organizers have compiled about this year’s competitors are that:

ï they are 75 percent male;

ï female competitors range in age from 12 (bike-only competitor) to 65;

ï male competitors range in age from ten (bike-only) to 84 years old;

ï the ten- and 12-year-olds are a brother and sister from Beverly Hills who will ride 24 miles;

ï the youngest women triathletes in this year’s contest are 16 years (two California competitors);

ï the youngest men are 14 (three Los Angeles County competitors);

ï the average age of all competitors is 36;

ï 56 percent of participants are Los Angeles Triathlon first-timers; and

ï 31 competitors have never missed a Los Angeles Triathlon event since its inception.

Expected to participate are athletes from 28 states, the District of Columbia and ten different countries (United States, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Switzerland, South Korea, Germany, England and Canada).

Among competitors, 70 percent will attempt to go the full Olympic distance, 22 percent will go the shorter “sprint distance,” six percent will participate in relay teams and two percent will do the bike-only portion of the event.

In addition to professional athletes and amateur athletes, the Los Angeles Triathlon has a category called the “elite” amateur athlete. These athletes are not professional, but they take their training and competition seriously on the level that pros do, organizers say. Some are preparing to go pro, while others hold full-time jobs and compete on weekends. In many cases, elite amateur finish times are competitive with pro times. The elite amateur athletes in the Los Angeles Triathlon — three of whom are from Los Angeles; one from Long Beach — are vying for a chance to compete in the Toyota U.S. Triathlon Open Championships in Dallas in October, where the total field is 30 men and 30 women. The top five in each of the four qualifying events — at Minneapolis, New York Chicago and Los Angeles — go on to compete in Dallas.

The Los Angeles Triathlon has 2,100 guaranteed spots for competitors. Registration is $185 for athletes doing the full Olympic distance, $165 for the shorter sprint distance, $260 for the relay teams, $65 for the bike only portion, $175 for pros, $180 for elite amateurs, $120 for members of collegiate triathlon teams; and $105 for high school students. Shuttle passes are $20 for the athletes to get back to their vehicles.

New this year, Toyota’s Engines of Change program will provide valet service for 100 of the athletes, chauffering their vehicles from the Venice Beach starting point to the downtown Los Angeles finish point at the STAPLES Center.

Street closings begin on Sunday morning at 5:30 a.m. starting in the Venice Beach area. The City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) closes and opens the streets in waves ending downtown. There are designated street crossings along the route to enable vehicles to cross the course safely and at the discretion of a traffic control officer. These crossing points can be found at http://trafficinfo.la city.org/index.html/.

Registration, (714) 978-1528 or www.latriathlon.com/.

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