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OCEANSIDE: Thousands Swim, Bike, Run in Oceanside Triathlon - By: Manny Lopez

March 27, 2010

oc tehya

More than 2,300 athletes from around the world descended upon Oceanside Saturday to compete in the Ironman 70.3 California triathlon.

The event featured a 1.2-mile swim in the Oceanside Harbor, a 56-mile bike ride through Camp Pendleton and a 13.1-mile run along the Strand for an awe-inspiring 70.3 combined miles of competition.

Although, only half the distance of a full Ironman triathlon, the Oceanside event was just as exciting for the thousands of spectators that lined the race course to cheer on the athletes and yell out encouragement. Some held inspirational signs and banners as competitors headed toward the final stretch.


Tehya Foussat, 15, and her mother, Christine Foussat, hold signs
representing people who will be participating in the Ironman in
Tehya's behalf Saturday. (Photo by Bill Wechter - Staff photographer)

"It was awesome; there were so many people yelling my name," said Kate Major, an Australian living in Encinitas, who placed fifth overall in the women's category. "It's so nice when you're a foreigner, but you're treated like a local. That's what makes San Diego so special."

Hal Jacobs, son of Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, was on hand to support his brother Jeff, who finished in 200th position, with an overall time of 4:49. "What they can do is incredible," Hal Jacobs said. "They're absolutely amazing athletes."

According to John Duke, director of content for Ironman, the average triathlete trains about 15 hours per week. "It's something that they really have to do that's important to their lifestyle," he said. Duke described San Diego as one of the best places in the world to live and train, owing primarily to its great weather.

For many of the top athletes in the sport, competing in the Ironman is about winning prize money, endorsements and the prestige that comes along with it.

But for Martin Reisert, a middle school teacher at Oak Valley Middle School in Rancho Bernardo, it's about competing for something much bigger.

Reisert has been running to raise funds for Tehyathon, a nonprofit organization named after one of his former students, Tehya Foussat, who was born with spina bifida, a developmental birth defect caused by the incomplete development of the spinal cord.

"Seeing the look on her face and raising money for her charity far outweighs any prize money or endorsements," said Reisert. "The reward increases 100 fold when you do it for someone else."

He said he encourages others to do the same and hopes to inspire more triathletes to compete for Tehyathon. The organization works to raise awareness about spina bifida and helps the homeless throughout San Diego.

Germany's Michael Raelert captured the win in the men's race with an overall time of 3:58:27 and Mirinda Carfrea of Australia took the top spot in the women's on her 29th birthday, with an overall time of 4:20:29.

The Oceanside event was the first of seven related triathlons that will take place across the country this year. Many of the sport's top athletes competed for $30,000 in prize money and one of 20 qualifying spots for the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, in October.


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