Month: August 2012

Rocket Man Florida Triathlon

I first learned of a possible Kennedy Space Center triathlon in summer of 2011,  believing chances of it ever really happening had to be well under 50%. For almost four years Mitch Varnes had been asking Space Center officials for use of the venue as part of a triathlon course. Security concerns with regard to the Space Shuttle program had always made it a very short conversation. Then as the shuttle program slowly tapered, Varnes began to get less pessimistic responses and the word ‘maybe’ entered the discussion. That word evolved until reaching the point of today and announcement of the Rocket Man Florida Triathlon. It has not been easy keeping my lips sealed during the past 25 days!

July 19th:   A phone call from Mitch Varnes explained  how we had one of the few last opportunities to drive the proposed Space Center bike course before the event.  The next day at 8:30am I was in the front seat of a NASA van with my ‘GoPro on a stick’ poking out the window. The result is a 4 minute movie I created for and

The highlight of the races will be the KSC bike course.  Some may ask why the Classic-plus and International-plus bike distances are equally long at 34 miles. The KSC road network and desire to include the most historic locations along the route made this necessary.

The Classic will have a .5 mile swim and a 4 mile run with the International having a typical .9mile swim and 10K run. These distances are subject to change but as race information becomes available the Facebook fan pages of  and RocketMan will update, hopefully with maps, etc.

 For those who ride in Brevard County, the bike distance is exactly the same as riding from Indialantic to Sebastian Inlet and back. Riders will cross the Max Brewer Bridge, enter the north KSC gate, take a long straight road south and loop around the VAB, launch pads, etc. then return north. The Half distance of 56 miles will take cyclists north on an added ride along Playlinda Beach to a turn around and back to T-2.

Registration begins in two weeks, September 1st, on the Rocket Man website. This site and companion Facebook news feed will update in the same manner as with Pineapple Man Triathlon. There will be information on the run courses and T-zone. Meanwhile, follow the RMFT website  countdown clock currently showing 263 days and 15 hours… then it’s blast-off time!

Full Press Release



KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. — History will once again be made at NASA’s manned launch facility on May 5, 2013, when the space center opens its gates to triathletes competing in the bicycling leg of the Inaugural Rocketman Triathlon at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. 

The multi-race event will include three separate distances – Classic, International and Half — and marks the first time in history that Kennedy Space Center’s secured gates have been opened for a privately coordinated public sporting event. 

Athlete participation in this event is expected to reach capacity,  and registration will open at 9 a.m. on September 1, 2012 through

“It’s great to be part of a community event like this one,” said Jon McBride, retired NASA Astronaut and current Astronaut Encounter Coordinator, at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.  “Physical fitness is important to a well-rounded life, and we are proud to have the beauty of KSC and its adjacent Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge as a portion of this triathlon.”

Cyclists will pass by and in direct view of  key space program elements including the Shuttle Landing Facility, Mate/Demate Device, the Shuttle Tow Way, the Orbiter Processing Facilities, the Crawler Transporter, the Mobile Launcher Platform, the Vehicle Assembly Building, the Launch Control Center, the Launch Complex-39 press site and its famous countdown clock and the Crawler Way.

 The highlight of the bike ride takes cyclists down the same roadway used by space-bound astronauts and around the perimeter of Launch Pads 39-A and 39-B – the launching points for all of NASA’s Space Shuttle and Apollo missions to the moon.

“What a great way to show off our natural resources in Titusville and the Space Coast,” said Brevard County Commission Chairman Robin Fisher.  “I’d like to very much thank Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana and his team for opening up the center to this special event and for allowing all the triathletes this tremendous opportunity.”

The Rocketman Triathlon’s start, finish and transition areas will be based in nearby Titusville at its riverside Space View Park.  The swim portion of the race will be held in the protected waters of the Indian River Lagoon, and the run course will be along Titusville’s riverside and historic downtown areas.

 ”As the Gateway to Nature and Space, Titusville is the perfect site for this event, which will traverse the Kennedy Space Center, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, the Canaveral National Seashore and downtown Titusville,” noted Titusville Mayor Jim Tulley.  “We are excited to have this in our community and look forward to it becoming an annual event.”

The allure of such an iconic venue is sure to draw triathletes from around the United States and the world; basically enabling them to participate in a self-paced VIP tour of the center. 

“I cannot think of a more dynamic bike ride than this triathlon course through Kennedy Space Center,” said Space Coast Office of Tourism Executive Director Rob Varley.  “This is going to be a great sporting event and one that is sure to be a positive economic impact for our community.”

The Rocketman Triathlon is created and produced by Smooth Running, LLC, of Indialantic, Fl.  Smooth Running’s Principal Mitch Varnes has orchestrated many of the Space Coast’s biggest individual sporting events, including the Sebastian Inlet Pro surfing tournaments, several triathlons and running races and the Melbourne & Beaches Music Marathon Weekend – East Central Florida’s premiere weekend-long distance running event.

 “The Rocketman Tri has been years in the works, and I couldn’t be more appreciative to NASA, Titusville, Delaware North Companies and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for allowing it to happen,” said Varnes.  “It is an awesome course all the way around,” he continued. “The attention will rightfully be focused on the ride through the space center, but I think the athletes will be every bit as impressed with their journey through the Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  There are lots of amazing race courses around the world, and I would stack this one up against any of them.”

Detailed information on the Rocketman Triathlon and a course video are available through