Defending champion wants to set record

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Delbert Marriott hopes to break the 6-year-old course mark.

Defending Steamboat Classic Triathlon champion Delbert Marriott still is promising a course record Sunday.

But if he doesn't break the mark, it's because he has other fish to fry.

Marriott will be using Sunday's Steamboat Classic as a tuneup for the Duathlon National Championship next weekend in Mason, Ohio.

"A lot of times, I'll just do these for workouts," said Marriott, 37, of Sikeston. "Instead of a hard training run, I'll just do the race as a training run."

The Steamboat Classic record unofficially is 1 hour, 13 minutes and 51 seconds, set by Barry Knight in 2000. The course -- a 500-yard swim in Central Municipal Pool, a 15 1/2-mile bicycle ride and a five-kilometer run -- has changed over the years, and this year will add a little extra distance on the bike portion to address a traffic situation.

Marriott expects that will mean another minute to his cycling time.

"It doesn't matter; I'm hoping to go 1:12," he said.

He won last year in 1:16:35.

"My goal times -- and it's one thing to write it down but another thing to do it -- is 7:10 in the pool, 35:00 on the bike and hopefully 28-something for the run, and it takes about a minute on the transitions," Marriott said. "I'm going to be somewhat conservative because the object is to qualify for the worlds [duathlon meet]."

Marriott can do that with a top-three finish next weekend in an event that includes a 10K run, a 40K bike ride and a 5K run.

For the Steamboat, Marriott expects some good athletes to push him, but he finds the teams to be better competition.

"I prefer to race against the teams because once I get the lead, it's hard to keep pushing. With the teams, someone is fresher than you are and there's a chance someone can run you down," Marriott said.

The event begins at 9 a.m. at Central Municipal Pool and competitors are sent into the pool in waves of 32 every 20 minutes.

Race director Chad Siermann of the Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department said the event has 170 preregistered competitors, which surpasses last year's total. The field has room for more competitors with registration planned for 6:30 to 8 a.m.

"Last year was really cold," said Siermann, who thought that may have deterred some entrants.

It did not stop Marriott from making the most of his transitions to worry about putting on warmer clothing.

"Delbert was the only one who came out of the pool half-naked and kept going," Siermann said.

"Last year, I was an unknown and I kind of surprised people," Marriott said. "I expect five or six good athletes this year and some really fast transition times."

He gave a clinic earlier this month that demonstrated some techniques.

Marriott this year seems to be in good shape. He won the Parris Island Triathlon -- a 500-meter swim, 13-mile bike ride and 5K run -- in March, topping a field of 350 athletes in a time of 54:12. That was 27 seconds off his course record time but a 59-second improvement over his time there the previous year.

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