The 14th Annual Heartland Triathlon starts today in downtown Sebring. The Triathlon is a two-day event with the kids running the course today and the adults taking their turn Sunday morning.

Today’s youth race is a traditional triathlon that is a multi-sport event that starts with a swim, then a bike race and ends with a run.

In the adult races there are several different types of races going on this year. There will be the traditional triathlon and a duathlon that consists of a short run, the usual bike race and then the usual run that triathletes compete in for those that don’t care to swim.

There will also be an aquabike that is a two-part race that is the swimming portion and the biking section for those that can’t or don’t like running. Sunday’s events are for ages 16 and up.

“This event got started with a handful of guys that were doing triathlons in other parts of Florida,” said Marking Director for Heartland Triathlon and Co-Owner of Legacy Bicycles, Kevin Shutt. “They wanted to bring that atmosphere to Sebring. They loved doing the races and it kicked off that endurance fitness that we see now. Back in 2006 it started to increase the number of people biking, swimming and running in this area. Highlands Peddlers is one of our big sponsors and they have seen an increase in participants in the bike club.”

There are 725 athletes signed up for the Heartland Triathlon. The race will begin at 7 a.m. both days. The youth race will have athletes ages 6 to 16 and the adult race will have participants 16 up to 80s. The nucleus of the event will be at the civic center where the transition station is located. The finish line is located on west center ave. For anyone that is downtown this weekend the place to watch is down by the library.

“We want the athletes to have a safe race,” said Shutt. “No crashes, no one get lost and not have a problem with motorists. We want to see people perform at their very best. This race was for beginners but now we have elite athletes that use this race as a ‘tuneup’ race. They come out before one of their bigger races to see how their bodies are doing or to test different nutritional strategies. There will still be a lot of beginners out and it is a very friendly atmosphere and everyone will have a great time.”

The course goes down Lakeview Dr makes a sharp left turn onto N Ridgewood and continues down Ridgewood to the Sebring Parkway and finish the race on Center Ave. This year’s course has been altered due to construction on the bike course. The route is mildly altered on the long course.

“Downtown Sebring is beautiful and we love to showcase that to our participants and spectators,” Shutt said. “We want them to visit restaurants and check out the shops downtown. The city put out the international flags and we are thankful for that. We hope our local merchants get some traffic.”

There will be road closures starting at 5 a.m. and detours this weekend during this event so please leave early to get to your destination. Please plan accordingly.

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