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Triathlete got bug in Beijing

September 06, 2008|Pete Thomas | Times Staff Writer

For Julie Swail Ertel, who will be among competitors in Sunday's Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Triathlon, it's not so much a case of what she gained by competing in the Beijing Olympics.

It's more of a case of what she lost, which is several pounds and more than a week's worth of training.

"Three days before I left I got the Chinese stomach bug," she explained on Thursday, after popping the last of her prescribed antibiotics.

But what an incredible 17 days it was for the Orange Coast College fitness instructor, who lives in Irvine.

She finished 18th on a hilly and challenging Beijing course but was proud to have represented her country and enjoy the spectacle with teammates, while paying strict attention to her diet.

"All the food I ate was flown in by the United States -- and I still got sick," Swail Ertel said.

Swail Ertel is the only athlete from the 2008 Olympics entered in the Los Angeles Triathlon, which was won last year by Australia's Emma Snowsill, the Olympic gold medalist, who pulled out of this year's race citing demands of her newfound fame.

Her time was 2 hours 3 minutes 30 seconds. Another Aussie, Greg Bennett, was the men's winner in 1:51:49, and is trying for a three-peat.

This year's race starts at 6:45 for the pros, 6:55 for the elite amateurs, and 7 a.m., in 15 waves, for everyone else. It features nearly a mile swim at Venice Beach, a 24.8-mile bicycle leg to the Hollywood/downtown L.A. areas, and a 6.2-mile run to the new finish line at L.A. Live/Nokia Plaza near Staples Center.

For course maps and other information, visit www.latriathlon.com.

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pete.thomas@latimes.com

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