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Captiva Island set to host its first multi-sport event, the triathlon

By Staff | Aug 12, 2011

Photo by CAROL ORR HARTMAN LeeAnn Suarez feigns cheering on Mark Blust, as both are participating in the inaugural Galloway Captiva Triathlon in September at South Seas Island Resort.

Captiva Island will be making an addition to its history book, when the inaugural Galloway Captiva Triathlon races into the South Seas Island Resort. This unspoiled retreat of 330 acres encompassed by two-and-a-half miles of white beaches along the Gulf of Mexico nestled at the north-end of “paradise” will provide most of the scenery for the event.

It started as an idea that has flourished into an entire weekend of fitness and family fun on an exquisite Southwest Florida island. Kate and Ken Gooderham, veteran planners behind the triathlon, have paired up with USA Triathlon Advance Level 2 Coach and 12-time Ironman Angie Ferguson to bring this multi-sport event comprised of two children’s triathlons and an adult sprint length triathlon Sept. 17-18.

“It has been a lot of work,” Ken noted about planning an event with more than 500 participants (including individual team members) spanning the entire 4-mile island. “The first is always the toughest because everything is done from scratch,” Ken and Kate concurred.

To launch the weekend, a children’s triathlon for ages 6 to 9 will begin at 8 a.m. Sept. 17 with a 110-yard swim in the Gulf followed by a 1.5 mile bike ride inside South Seas and finish with a half-mile run along the edge of the resort’s golf course. At 8:30 a.m. children ages 10 to 13 will swim 200 yards, bike 3 miles and run 1 mile along the same course.

“This is a lifetime activity,” said Kate. “It’s good for the kids and makes it more of a family event.”

A practice run along South Seas Island Resort’s Golf Course was full of laughs between tri-athletes LeeAnn Suarez and Mark Blust. The triathlon will take place on Captiva with a majority of the events at South Seas. There will be two children’s tri Sept. 17 and an adult sprint length event Sept. 18. Sign up now for a weekend full of family fun.

On Sept 18, the adult tri-athletes will set off for a 400-yard swim in the Gulf, 10 miles of biking to Blind Pass and back to South Seas and end with a 5K run along the resort’s golf course. The transition area will be located just off the beach near the golf course. Since the event is sanctioned by the USA Triathlon, the national governing body for multi-sport disciplines, rules and safety policies have been carefully put into place.

“The rare course makes it interesting,” Ken said.

With 500 cyclists pedaling down Captiva Drive, the road will unavoidably be closed from 6:45 to 8:45 a.m. during the adult triathlon. An electronic message board will be situated at Blind Pass warning motorists of the closure a few days before the event. For safety sake, Kate said there would be approximately nine lifeguards in the water along with Lee County Sheriff’s boats for the swimming portion of the event.

However, volunteers are essential to make it all happen. Kate and Ken said manpower is critical for the two-step registration process and guarding the transition area. But you can volunteer to be a part of the event in the following capacities on Sept. 18:

o Swim course: To help organize the starting waves at the beginning, help athletes head from the water to the transition area and watch for distressed swimmers. Must be in place by 6:50 a.m. and until the last swimmer exits the water.

o Bike course: Warn athletes about road hazards, watch out for vehicles on the course, assist with setup and tear down of barricades. Must be in place by 7 a.m. and until the last racer returns to the transition area.

o Run course: Watch for athletes in distress, warn them about course hazards, assist with setup and tear down as needed. Must be in place by 7:30 a.m. and until the last runner crosses the finish line.

o Timing: To help Alta Vista distribute timing chips to athletes prior to the race. Must be in place between 5:45 and 6:45 a.m.

o Finish line: Help athletes remove timing chips after the race, to help any athlete in distress, give them water and answer any questions. Must be in place by 8:30 a.m. and until the last racer crosses the line.

o Water stations, food set-up or volunteer where help is needed

“It is a great way to experience the event,” Kate noted about volunteering for a triathlon, something she and Ken did for the 2009 Ironman World Championship.

While the Galloway Captiva Triathlon will be a weekend of fitness and fun for the whole family, the event is also helping raise money for a local charity Fort Myers-based CCMI chosen by title sponsor Sam Galloway Automotive. As a non-profit agency, CCMI serves more than 14,000 meals each month through its soup kitchen and Meals on Wheels program.

In addition, CCMI educates 40 children in its Community Montessori Preschool, provides weekend backpacks full of food to more than 2,500 children each school year and oversees a mobile food pantry. Sam Galloway Automotive supports several different charitable organizations, including CCMI. This year, Sam Galloway Jr.’s annual soup kitchen benefit for CCMI raised $800,000.

To create the Captiva triathlon, Kate and Ken established the not-for-profit corporation based in Fort Myers dedicated to combining fun, fitness and support for local charities through multi-sport events Southwest Florida Events, Inc.

Sign up now to be a volunteer in the inaugural Galloway Captiva Triathlon by contacting race director Kate Gooderham at 489-2616 or race coordinator Angie Ferguson at 246-2920. For more information on the event or accommodations, visit www.captivatri.com.