INDYCAR Ironmen compete with purpose

Tony Kanaan would have rather treated his body to a long weekend off from training, but that just wouldn't do given the circumstances. So he'll join fellow IZOD IndyCar Series drivers Vitor Meira and Alex Lloyd in competing in the Rohto Ironman 70.3 Miami on Oct. 30 in honor of former teammate Dan Wheldon.

He's the one honored to participate, weariness notwithstanding.

The trio will wear matching triathlon Pearl Izumi jerseys with Wheldon's logo on front that will be donated to the ongoing eBay auction of sports memorabilia and other items, with all proceeds being directed to the Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund.

Kanaan, who will wear jersey No. 77 (Wheldon's car number in his final two races), will ride a custom-built Trek Concept Speed bike with the Lionheart logo that was part of Wheldon's helmet scheme that also will be donated to the auction.

Kanaan and Meira competed in the Ford Ironman World Championships three weeks ago in Hawaii and, compounded by the IZOD IndyCar Series race weekend Oct. 14-16 and the mental anguish of Wheldon's death from injuries suffered in a race crash, they've had little time to decompress let alone grieve.

The 70.3 is a 1.2-mile swim in the Atlantic Ocean, a 56-mile bike and a 13.1-mile run – all half distances of their Kona adventure. Firestone Indy Lights driver Gustavo Yacaman also is scheduled to compete.

"I hadn't decided if I was going to do it or not because of Kona being so close to it. I'm tired," said Kanaan, who competed in the inaugural event in 2010. "But the more attention we can catch for the cause – the auction – is great. Then I had the idea to do the bike, and the thing about doing the bike is you can't just put it up for auction. The bike needs to race so it explains why I'm doing it."

Meira was going to gauge his body before committing to the event, but now there's a purpose to participating.

"We have to go in hammering as best as we can for Dan," said Meira, who joined Kanaan for the 2010 Miami event as a warm-up for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, Fla., last November. "Our legs are still recovering a little bit from Kona.

"I was planning to do it anyway for fun. Now easy is just a matter of how fast we want to do it, and we always want to do it as fast as we can and fast as we can means going to the limit."

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