Major triathlon event in Venice this weekend

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SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. - Venice is gearing up for a big race this weekend. Workers have been setting up for the Rev 3 triathlon near the Venice fishing pier.

Hundreds of competitors are set to take off Sunday morning. In the meantime, they're helping the local economy win.

"It's a lot of work.  It's about a three day setup," says race director Eric Opdyke.  They are getting ready for more than 500 competitors.  Another 500 volunteers will be working along 70 miles of Suncoast roads.

It's called the Rev 3 triathlon.  "It's We are excited to be here. Many of us come from the Northeast and we are starting to get a little colder. It's exciting for us to be down here."

The race will start with a mile-long swim in the Gulf, followed by a 50-plus mile bike ride from Venice down into Englewood, Port Charlotte, North Port, and back.  It concludes with a 13.1 mile run.

Athletes like Richie Cunningham, who is leading the year-long series finishing up here, is happy to see Venice.  "When it is a nice place like this and you have good climate you can get out and do stuff instead of sitting in the hotel room and just waiting for the event to come around."

There will be a few winners on the course this weekend, and it is expected there will be a few in the community as well.

Managers of restaurants like Sharky's on the Pier are looking forward to an out-of-season shot in the arm.  "We love a good party. This is a new one for us because it is so large.  I don't have to do half the work, so it's really great for me. I get to enjoy it a little," says Kim Rasmusser.

Tourism officials believe it means an extra 600 room nights. Many are already in town. "Everyone brings their wives and family. It is certainly good for the area." says Cunningham.

It also includes a nationally syndicated airing of the event highlighting the area, says Opdyke. "That is a really exciting component. It is hopefully going to give Venice and Sarasota County a little more exposure on a national level."

Rasmusser agrees "You cannot buy advertising like that. It is wonderful."

Did we mention they're competing for $75,000? Perhaps a little loose change from those like Cunningham could also fall our way. "Hopefully if I win the series I will be spending a lot of that on a bit of drink. Ha."

The event is free to onlookers. It will start just before 8:00 Sunday morning.  There will be some traffic issues surrounding the course so be prepared for potential delays.

To view a map of the triathlon course, which winds through parts of Venice, Englewood, Port Charlotte, and North Port, click HERE.