The third annual Duathlon in Exile series sponsored by SBR sporting goods in Irvine opens Sunday, with a new twist for the third and final event in the series on June 20.
That race is a qualifying event--the only qualifier in the Southwest--for the World Duathlon Championships to be held in Paris in October.
Race organizer and SBR owner Dennis Ferguson said he has already received race registrations from as far as Washington state, Kansas and Minnesota.
"It's going to be real competitive," Ferguson said. "The June 20 event is going to be a spectacle."
The Irvine area has many multisport athletes who are very competitive in their age groups, as well as a few professionals (such as Andy Carlson, winner of last year's National Triathlon Championship in Las Vegas). So the SBR series has always been competitive.
"We definitely get a lot of top age groupers," Ferguson said.
The three events are at the sprint distance, with a 5K run, a 20K bike ride and another 5K run. The course has been changed this year, and the event will begin and end at the Irvine transportation center. The bike segment will consist of three loops on a closed course.
"It's really flat," Ferguson said. "I think record times will definitely be shattered here." Also, because of the loop course, "it's a lot more spectator-friendly."
In the first two years, the series has averaged a healthy 300 competitors per event.
This year, Ferguson is hoping to reach 400 per race. Proceeds from the event, sponsored by the Irvine Co., will benefit the athletic program at Irvine Valley College.
The second event in the series is May 9. Ferguson prefers that racers register in advance at the store (5405 Alton Parkway, Suite F, Irvine), but race day registration will be available for all three events.
Looking ahead: March 25 is the registration deadline for the Jimmy Stewart Relay Marathon, to be held March 28 at 8 a.m. in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. In the popular event, which attracts some top middle-distance runners, five-person teams divide the 26.2-mile marathon distance.
Because the race is a major fund-raiser for the Child Study Center of St. John's Hospital and Health Center in Santa Monica, entry fees are steep: $500 per team ($125 for teams sponsored by nonprofit organizations). For information, call (310) 829-8968.