A Place of Warmth for Off Season Training During the Winter.

 Now that the majority of the country is in a deep freeze, and eventually people get tired of working-out indoors,
here is an option especially for the people in the North, Midwest and on the East Coast……….Sarasota, Florida.
It has all the amenities any triathlete could wish for including the weather. The winter months are especially ideal for
the athletes who do not enjoy the heat and humidity that comes along with the rest of the year in Florida.
 
In regards to swimming, Sarasota has an abundance of opportunities. There are two outdoor Olympic size swimming pools to
choose from. There are several indoor pools, too. And then there is the wonderful Gulf of Mexico and the endless white sand beaches.
Here is an opportunity to do a lot of open water swim training and with water temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s it is ideal 
for training in your wetsuit. Sarasota also boasts two Masters Swim Programs and guests are more than welcome. In fact, the 
USMS National Office is in Sarasota.
 
For bicycling there are endless miles to ride. For the triathletes who like the scenic views there are the barrier islands, including
beautiful Longboat Key. On the east side of Sarasota there are opportunities to do many century rides on well paved, little trafficked
rural roads and you never have to do the same route twice. An hour and a half, by car, north of Sarasota there is San Antonio where
one can do 40, 50, 60 miles of uninterrupted hill riding. There are several bike shops in Sarasota who cater to every level of 
experience and rentals are available.
 
For the 3rd discipline, the run, there are three major run stores who have plenty of fun runs a week coming and going from their shops.
If beach running is your thing there are miles of beach and there are also plenty of trails in Sarasota for the trail running adventurer, too.  Oscar Scherer State Park is ideal along with Myakka State Park. Sarasota has many gyms, too, including two LA Fitness facilities and two YMCA’s,
who all accept guest passes if some strength training is in your plans. Legacy Trail is a paved over railroad track that is over 11 miles long for those who like to ride their bikes and run where there are no cars. For some incline training for bike or run do bridge repeats on the
beautiful Ringling Bridge. It has wide sidewalks and wide bike lanes, over Sarasota Bay, with some spectacular views, especially at sunrise and sunset.
 

Finally, for the 4th discipline, entertainment. There are countless world class restaurants to satisfy any palate. There are plenty of 

nightspots and museums, such as the world famous Ringling Museum. There are concert venues, like the Van Wezel, that attracts stars from around the world. You have the Sarasota Ballet, the Sarasota Opera and numerous other entertainment options like 
Jungle Gardens, the Big Cat Habitat, Selby Gardens (for the botanical lovers) and, of course, all the different water sports, like
jet skiing, kayaking and para-sailing. Did I forget to mention golf or tennis? There is plenty of that, too. Ideal cross training opportunities.
And don’t forget that Sarasota is the spring training home of the Baltimore Orioles in March.
 
Sarasota has its own international airport and is only an hour south of Tampa International Airport. There are plenty of hotels
from the upscale Ritz Carlton to the clean, comfortable and reasonably priced Homewood Suites. So avoid the indoor winter training
doldrums and get a head start on the upcoming triathlon season in sunny Sarasota, Florida.The opportunities are endless for the casual
triathlete to the most discerning one. Probably the best opportunity of all is to relax and sit on the beach, sip a beverage and watch the
beautiful sunset over the Gulf of Mexico after a wonderful day of training and fun.
 
Carl Knutsson
USAT Florida Region Board Member
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