LOCAL triathlete Richard Pearson is in with a good chance of taking home some of the $4500 in prize money on offer in Olympic distance Open category at the BCU Coffs TRI on March 3.
Event promoters Village Sports has organised the handy prize pool and the 23-year-old has elected to compete in the Open category rather than in his age group so he can not only test himself against some of the fastest athletes in the race, but give himself a chance to pick up some much needed cash.
Pearson is travelling to the US for five weeks in May with other local athletes to train and compete in triathlon races in California with the goal of becoming a professional triathlete or obtaining sponsorship.
In the lead-up he will step his training up to 25 hours per week.
Other Coffs locals expected to push Pearson all the way to the finish line in the BCU Coffs TRI are Daniel Stein and Reece Edwards along with Port Macquarie's Cameron Pensini and professional triathlete Ben Hammond from Manly.
Pearson said his goal was to finish in the top five.
In the Olympic distance race he will be swimming 1500m in the harbour, riding 40km out to Sawtell and running 10km around the Jetty Foreshore.
Pearson has been enjoying a stellar season with some excellent results in races up and down the coast. He is the current course record holder for the Coffs Tri Club sprint distance race.
In last Sunday's Trial Bay Triathlon, he finished third overall in a time of 1hr 11min 10sec.
He also claimed third overall in the Queensland Long Course Triathlon Championships in Goondiwindi earlier this month.
In November he raced in the Kingscliff Olympic distance triathlon.
Racing in the Open men's category Pearson combined a solid swim and a very strong bike to finish seventh overall in a time of 1:58.32.
Pearson has been putting in some solid training under the watchful eye of coach Andrew Rowlings.
He is currently training 15 hours per week but working at the Coffs Harbour Memorial Pool has its advantages.
"I've been able to sneak in additional training sessions and my swimming has really improved," Pearson said.
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