The 11th annual Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Triathlon will kick off with the swim portion at Venice Beach at 7:15 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 3.

Presented by Herbalife, the Los Angeles Triathlon has become one of the largest and most prestigious triathlons on the West Coast, and was named Triathlete Magazine’s “Best Urban Triathlon” in March, event organizers noted. The swim, cycling, run event attracts nearly 3,000 participants every year, from first-time recreational triathletes to some of the best of the professional field.

The 2009 men’s and women’s champions, Javier Gomez of Spain and Lisa Norden of Sweden, are returning this year to defend their titles. The professionals will be competing for a prize purse totaling $40,000.

Challenging Gomez and Norden in this year’s Los Angeles Triathlon are former champions Greg Bennett (2006, 2007, 2008, AUS/USA) and American Sarah Haskins (2005). Bennett’s wife, Laura, a 2008 Olympian and ranked No. 1 in the 2010 ITU swimming rankings, will be attempting to win her first L.A. Triathlon in this year’s race.

The race includes two distances — Sprint (.4-mile swim, 14.1-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run); and Olympic (.9-mile swim, 24-mile bike and 6.2-mile run). A relay option is also offered for athletes who prefer to race as a three-person team.

Athletes begin with the swim at Venice Beach and transition to the bike course to ride towards downtown Los Angeles. Once downtown, athletes will run north on Grand Avenue, turn around at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and head back towards the finish line at L.A. Live.

Triathletes from 11 different countries, as well as at least 30 U.S. states will compete.

“After 11 years, I’m happy to say that this event is stronger and more popular than ever,” said Jack Caress, owner and founder of the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Triathlon. “Besides being a great event for professionals, this triathlon is easily doable for recreational triathletes, our ‘weekend warriors.’ Amateurs are just as important to this race as the pros.”

Registration is still open until Thursday, Sept. 30 at: Athletes can

also register at the Health and Fitness Expo on Friday and Saturday, Oct.1 and 2 at the J.W. Marriott L.A. Live. There is no race day registration.