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Archive for Sunday, August 19, 2001

Triathlon: Dobbins duo dominant

Wife-husband team claim pair of victories at Florida event

August 19, 2001

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Travelers to exotic lands tend to spend their vacations on the beach with fruity drinks in hand, sightseeing or shopping.

Such relaxing behavior bores Kent and Liz Dobbins.

The Lawrence residents would rather swim a few hundred meters in the choppy ocean surf, run a handful of miles in tropical heat and pedal a bike around an island's hills and valleys.

"We're not very bright people," said Kent, a 56-year old Lawrence optometrist. "We do a lot of triathlons. We've done them in Lawrence, Kansas City, Topeka, Texas, Florida, Hawaii, St. Croix and in Europe."

Recently, Kent and Liz Dobbins won their respective age groups at the National Sprint Triathlon championships in Key Biscayne, Fla.

The event was not an Olympic triathlon which, like Hawaii's Ironman has a 2.5-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run.

The shorter version consists of a half-mile swim, 10-mile bike ride and three-mile run.

Kent won the men's 55-59-year old division in 1 hour, 5 minutes. Wife Liz topped the women's 44-49-year old division after she crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 11 minutes.

"That time was not incredibly fast," said Liz, a 48-year old DeSoto school district physical education teacher. "But it was good enough on that particular day."

By chance, the couple's heats started at the same time something that normally does not happen, Kent said.

"She is a faster swimmer than me," he said. "But I catch up to her on the bike and stay ahead during the run."

Liz's faster time in the water might have something to do with the fish lurking beneath the surface.

"My wife thought about sharks," he said. "I wasn't concerned, though. I figured they'd get the people ahead of me first."

Liz said she just wanted to "swim faster than the sharks."

Kent said he and Liz compete in six to 10 races a year and train every day.

"We do two events a day," he said. "Sometimes we run and bike, other times we swim and run or swim and bike. It depends on the day and time we have. On Sunday we go on longer bike rides."

The training has paid off.

In 1997, Liz placed 18th overall at the World Championships in Switzerland. She was the sixth fastest U.S. competitor.

Liz began competing in triathlons shortly after her father was hospitalized with heart problems in 1985.

"My dad's health got me into this," she said. "I took heed of that. I've always been active and athletic and triathlons are cross-training."

Kent said he became involved after a friend introduced the sport to him.

Almost two decades later the two have been around the globe to swim, bike and run in different competitions including the most famous triathlon, the Ironman.

"That is a long day," Kent said of the Ironman. "It ceases being a race and becomes an endurance contest. You have to find a pace and keep it to finish the race. When you're done it doesn't matter where you finish overall, but you compare your time to those of people in your age group to see how you did."

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