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Friends Who Train Together Develop Triathlon Together

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A meeting arranged by a mutual acquaintance led to a decades-long friendship, and now, a triathlon.

Bob Cuyler and Bill Leach are organizers of the inaugural Pacific Coast Triathlon, scheduled for July 26 at Crystal Cove State Park, located between Laguna Beach and Corona del Mar.

The race begins with a half-mile ocean swim along a rectangular course in El Morro cove. The next leg is a 12-mile bike race on a recently resurfaced stretch of Pacific Coast Highway from Pelican Point to the Laguna Beach city limits. The southbound lanes of PCH will be closed to traffic, but the northbound lanes will be used for traffic in both directions.

The final leg is a three-mile run along the cliffs overlooking the ocean, and on the beach for a short span.

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Cuyler and Leach got together about 15 years ago. Cuyler was the dentist for Jeff Horn, a friend of Leach’s. Cuyler mentioned he would like to get together to run with Leach, who even then was well-known in triathlon circles.

The two have since built a bond training for and competing in “between 300 and 400 triathlons, in about nine countries,” Cuyler said.

Last year, Cuyler was attending a Kiwanis meeting, during which the club’s president, Tina Hoover, said she wanted to put on a fund-raiser. Cuyler suggested a triathlon, and Hoover “volunteered” him to organize it.

Cuyler conceived the course and showed it to Leach, who has been involved in promotions for the Human Race Triathlon, which was renamed this year as the Kring & Brown Newport Beach Triathlon and took place in May.

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Leach knows a thing or two about courses. He was the cross-country coach at Irvine Valley College for eight seasons before resigning in May. He was also an outstanding athlete--an All-American water polo player at UC Irvine and a member of the first national water polo team.

But Leach wasn’t sure how this race proposal would be received by city fathers. The course features “everything you’d want in a race,” Cuyler said. “Ocean breezes, clean water in a protected cove, great scenery--it’s all there.”

Which has been a problem in the past. The optimal time to hold a triathlon is between April and October, but that’s also peak tourist time for most coastal cities, and it can be difficult to gain their cooperation when it comes to shutting off roads and blocking off beaches.

“I thought the powers that be would nix it before we got it off the ground,” Leach said. “But that park is unincorporated. Neither [Laguna Beach nor Corona del Mar) has tried to make an obstacle. . . . Even Caltrans has been cooperative.”

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Among those already registered are John Brazelton, a teacher at Newport Harbor High and the county’s top finisher at the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii in 1997. Tony Richardson of San Diego, who finished second in this year’s Carlsbad Triathlon, also is registered, as is Emilio De Soto, another nationally known competitor.

Diane Ito of Long Beach, whom Cuyler calls one of the best women triathletes in the world over 50, is expected to compete. Barbara Wright, a physical education instructor at Orange Coast College is also registered.

The race is a way for Cuyler and Leach to give back to the community, Leach said. Among the beneficiaries is the Corona del Mar High School Foundation. Cuyler has two children who attend the school, where Leach teaches history.

Proceeds also benefit Orange County Junior Lifeguards and Kiwanis Youth Programs. The event is a USTS championship qualifying race.

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The day’s events will feature a first-timers’ race, along with a junior lifeguard race and a children’s race. For first timers and children, the distances are shorter: a 200-yard swim, a four-mile bike race and a 1.5-mile run.

The competition begins at 7 a.m.

Fees are $60 for the sprint race; $45 for junior lifeguards; $30 for first timers and children 9-14, and $95 for relay teams.

For information, call (949) 675-3498, or visit the web site: www.pacificcoasttriathlon.com

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Ruth Wysocki is looking to defend her world-record performance Saturday in Newport Beach, where she will compete in the 14th Bastille Day 8K masters event.

Wysocki, from Canyon Lake, won last year’s race in 26 minutes 19 seconds to set the record in the women’s elite masters category.

Craig Young, from Colorado Springs, Colo, will return to defend his victory in the men’s masters division race, which he finished in 24:05. He was the Indy Life Circuit masters grand prix champion for 1997 and is atop the 1998 standings after two events.

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Other top runners expected to compete in the race, which begins at 6:30 p.m., are Steve Plasencia, Peter Koech, Jeanne Lasee-Johnson, Jane Welzel and June Machala.

Edith Allen, 86, of Laguna Beach will also compete. Allen was the top-ranked age-group runner (85-89) in 1997.

The Bastille Day 8K offers $5,000 in masters prize money.

The day’s festivities begin with a 25-mile bike ride at 2 p.m., followed by open 5K and 8K runs at 5 and 5:30. A jazz festival and international food fair will also take place behind The Sutton Place Hotel. Proceeds benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County.

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About 2,000 are expected to participate in the Fiesta 5,000, starting at 6 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 9, in San Clemente.

The five-kilometer race, in its 10th year, is part of the city’s street festival, which features a raffle, health fair and brunch. Participants may run or walk the course. There are nine age-groups, and the fee is $22.

For information, call (949) 492-1131.

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The 44th annual Huntington Beach Distance Derby, the county’s longest-running road race event, begins at 7 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 15.

The five- and 10-mile courses begin and end at the new pier plaza. Early registration fee (before Aug. 8) is $10 without a T-shirt, $16 with a shirt. After Aug. 8, the fee is $15 with no shirt, or $20 with shirt, while they last.

The race will be held regardless of weather. Wheelchair participants are welcome. For information, call (714) 661-6062.

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Staff writer Bob Rohwer contributed to this story.


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