Go Jump in a Lake, Triathletes

Memorial Day is a quiet weekend when it comes to organized runs, bike rides and other group events in Orange County. Most people, it seems, prefer relaxing at family get-togethers to working up a sweat.

Some folks, however, will be turning down that second helping of barbecue in anticipation of next weekend's big event--the 1994 Orange County Performing Arts Center Triathlon, to be held June 5 in Mission Viejo.

The triathlon is two events, really. First is the amateur event, expected to draw more than 1,000 competitors. It will include a one-kilometer freshwater swim in Lake Mission Viejo, a 30K bike ride (over part of the same course used in the 1984 Olympics) and finally an 8K run.

Afterward is the professional race, a lap-style event at the longer "international" distance: a 1.5K swim, 40K bike ride and 10K run. The event was recently named the Triathlon Federation/USA's "International Distance Triathlon of the Year." Also, for the first time, the race is the U.S. qualifier for the 1994 Goodwill Games to be held this summer in St. Petersburg, Russia (the top three U.S. male and female finishers automatically qualify).

Some of the top triathletes in the world are scheduled to attend. Australia's Michellie Jones, winner of 1993's World Triathlon Championship and the 1993 OCPAC, leads the women's field, to be challenged by the top U.S. competitor, Karen Smyers.

Among the men will be Spencer Smith, who won the men's version of the 1993 World Triathlon Championship, along with Dave Scott, six-time champion of the Gatorade Ironman in Hawaii.

Also competing will be Brad Kearns, who won the OCPAC in 1990 and 1991, and Irvine native Andy Carlson, the OCPAC runner-up last year.

Total purse is $20,000, and the top male and female finishers will each win a Mazda Miata. For amateurs, awards will be given to the top performers in 22 age groups and 13 open and corporate relay divisions.

Blending the two events, amateur and professional, offers an opportunity for competitors and spectators alike. The amateur race starts at 7 a.m. and the professional at 11 a.m., both at Lake Mission Viejo. Spectators are welcome but are advised that only street parking is available.

There is no race-day registration for the amateur event (the professional race is by invitation only). Call event organizers ahead of the race for entry information or go to the Triathlon and Fitness Expo on June 4 at Crystal Court in Costa Mesa.

The day is expected to raise more than $60,000 for the Orange County Performing Arts Center, and organizers are looking for volunteers to staff aid stations and help in other ways on race day.

Call (714) 556-2122, Ext. 556, for more information. Overall, more than $500,000 has been raised in eight years.

What: 1994 Orange County Performing Arts Center Triathlon.

When: Sunday, June 5. Amateur race at 7 a.m., professional race at 11 a.m.

Where: Starts and finishes at Lake Mission Viejo.

Whereabouts: From the San Diego (5) Freeway, exit at Alicia Parkway and head east several miles to the lake. Look for street parking.

Wherewithal: $65 for members of Triathlon Federation/USA, $70 for non-members (free to spectators).

Where to call: (714) 846-0813.

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