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2006 Press Releases
Preparations Underway for First Ever Morton Plant Mease Triathlon

Race Competitors to Include Ironman Champions

CLEARWATER, Fla., (June 19, 2006) - The racecourse is mapped and athletes of all abilities are gearing up to swim, bike and run in the first ever Morton Plant Mease Triathlon. The inaugural race sponsored by Morton Plant Mease Health Care kicks off at 7 a.m. on Sunday, July 16 at Sand Key Park, 1060 Gulf Blvd., Clearwater, Florida. The race will feature a 1/3-mile open water swim in the scenic Gulf of Mexico, a 13-mile bike over the Sand Key, Belleair Causeway and Memorial Causeway Bridges and a 3.1 mile flat, fast run along Sand Key's Gulf Blvd and finishing at Sand Key Park. The event will help raise funds for the Morton Plant Mease Foundation and the four hospitals of Morton Plant Mease Health Care, all community-owned facilities dedicated to health care research, diagnostics and patient-centered care.

"This is a tremendous opportunity to promote and benefit our community in what we hope will grow into one of the top triathlons in the nation," said Bryan Stanley, chair of the Morton Plant Mease Foundation's Skip Cline Young Leadership Society, presenters of the triathlon.

The number of people completing triathlons has more than doubled in less than two years and is the fastest growing sport in the world according to Inside Triathlon Magazine. Morton Plant Mease is also fortunate to have an experienced partner, St. Anthony's Health Care, assisting with planning and organizing the race. For more than two decades St. Anthony's has organized the St. Anthony's Triathlon - an event attracting world-class athletes.

Appearing at the Morton Plant Mease Triathlon will be Spencer Smith, three-time World Triathlon Champion and two-time Ironman champion. Also appearing - Marc Bonnet-Eymard, 2006 St. Anthony's Triathlon Overall Amateur Champion and Heather Gollnick, three-time Ironman Champion, former national and world champion at both the Duathlon and Triathlon level, and mother of three.

"While men between the ages of 35 and 39 remain our largest group of competitors, the field has really opened up to women in recent years. More and more women are competing in triathlons - a positive movement in women's health," said Nicholas Cardello, director of wellness services, BayCare Health System.

A $3,000 prize purse will be distributed to the top five elite male and female finishers. Custom plaques will be distributed to the top five finishers in the following categories: 14 years and younger; 15 - 19; 20 -25 and upward in five-year increments to 85 years, 85 and older; Clydesdale; Athena; Novice; Skip Cline member; and physically challenged. All race finishers will receive custom medals. In addition to individual competitors, relay teams are also invited to participate. USA Triathlon sanctions the event.

Race entry fees are as follows:

* $60 for individuals; $65 after July 9

* $75 for relay teams; $80 after July 9

Participants will receive a goody bag and race t-shirt. To register for the Morton Plant Mease Triathlon, log on to or contact Philip LaHaye, (727) 820-7791.

You may also participate in the race by becoming a volunteer. Volunteers are needed to assist with registration, distribute water to athletes and assist at the finish line. Volunteers are needed July 15 and 16 and can sign up by calling (727) 820-7790.

The Morton Plant Mease Triathlon is sponsored by the following companies:

* Acordia Insurance - a Wells Fargo Company, the fifth largest insurance brokerage firm in the world and the largest bank-affiliated insurance brokerage firm in the U.S.

* Colonial Bank - a $21 billion bank holding company headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama with more than 300 banking offices in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Nevada and Texas

* First American Title Insurance Company - one of the nation's leading, most experienced providers of title insurance, and number one in global title operations

Nationally recognized for health care excellence, Morton Plant Mease Health Care is dedicated to providing community owned health care services that set the standard for high-quality, compassionate care. Morton Plant Mease Health Care is comprised of the following hospitals - Morton Plant, Clearwater; Mease Dunedin, Dunedin; Mease Countryside, Safety Harbor and Morton Plant North Bay, New Port Richey.

Contact: Beth Hardy (727) 298-6199 Phone, (727) 419-4471 Pager or Amy Morrow (727) 461-8538 Phone, (727) 468-7586 Pager