UNIVERSITY PARK -- Almost 400 international and local triathletes will flock to Nathan Benderson Park this weekend for the area's second Sarasota-Bradenton Triathlon.
The races, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, will decide continental championship winners. Participants will complete a one-lap, 750-meter swim; a three-lap, 20-kilometer bike ride; and a one-lap, 5-kilometer run.
The PATCO (Panamerican Triathlon Confederation) North American Junior Championship race for women ages 16 through 19 will begin at 9:45 a.m. Saturday, followed by the men's Junior Championship race at 11 a.m.
The women's PATCO Sprint Triathlon Championships will begin at 12:30 p.m., followed by the men's Championship race at 2 p.m.
The PATCO Mixed Team Relay Pan American Championships will be held at at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.
Many of the international athletes completed a triathlon in Clermont last weekend and are sticking around for the Sarasota-Bradenton Triathlon.
"This is a vision we have along with USA Triathlon to bring athletes to Florida for the warmth and to train for back-to-back weekends," said Bill Burnett, founder of Streamline Events, the race organizer.
Registration for the triathlon is still open, and participants of all abilities are encouraged to sign up.
Registration costs $85 per participant. All athletes must also be members of USA Triathlon; if you aren't a member, a one-day membership costs $12 and can be paid when you register.
"This is a wonderful course for a beginner because it's a flat course. Beginners will feel safe competing in the event," Burnett said.
Chris Juall, a member and former vice president of the Sarasota Storm Triathlon Club, said swimming is the best way to train at the last minute for this race.
"Get out in the water in a wetsuit and glide in the Gulf or in a pool. Just get used to the wetsuit and swim a short distance -- doesn't have to be very far -- just something to get you used to the restriction of a wetsuit," said Juall, who has been competing in triathlons for seven years.
Nathan Benderson Park is the ideal place to hold a triathlon for the closed course and the pristine views for spectators, Juall added. More than 1,000 spectators are expected to show up for the event.
"It is without question the best venue I have ever seen for triathlons even though it's new and isn't complete yet. It has potential the be the best in the nation for sure," he said.
To register for the race, or to sign up to volunteer, visit sarasotatri.com.
Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow @sabrinarocco on Twitter.