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International Sports and Local Fun At Nathan Benderson Park

Nik Wallenda

Whether preparing for world-class rowing events that will draw the international attention of athletes, media outlets, and visitors from all over the world, hosting Olympic time trials, or just ensuring the grounds and paths are well-kept and trees trimmed for the growing number of locals who enjoy taking a brisk walk or run around the lake, Nathan Benderson Park has become a sensational venue for a variety of sports and recreational activities.

This weekend’s events at the park bring the American Youth Cup Series II, part of a series of three regattas that will ultimately produce a country that amasses the most points and wins the coveted American Youth Cup.  Other events at the park include international championships, cross country runs, canoe races, 5K and 10K runs, corporate training events and much more. For locals, the park has meant having a large, centralized venue for exercising, picnics, paddleboarding, kayaking and a host of other recreational activities.

Eton College Rowing Team

There are only a handful of sites around the country that have the necessary natural attributes to be classified as a world-class rowing and recreational facility.  What began as a shell excavation pit for neighboring construction evolved when the county purchased the property in the 1990s.  A large donation from the Benderson family facilitated plans to turn the park into an international rowing and wellness destination.

Nathan Benderson Park boasts 600 acres of beautiful grounds which include a 400-acre lake with 2,000-meter racing lanes, coaching lanes, wave attenuation, athletic training center, grandstands, and a maintenance and testing facility.  The 2016-17 Florida state budget will put aside $2.5 million for Nathan Benderson Park to facilitate the construction of finishing towers, a boathouse, and other amenities for the facility.

Nathan Benderson Park

The pinnacle event to date that will be held at Nathan Benderson Park will be the 2017 World Rowing Championship, which is expected to attract 1500 athletes from over 70 countries.  This will be the first time in over two decades that the event will be held in the United States and Sarasota is poised to receive millions of dollars in revenue from guests needing hotel rooms, restaurants and ancillary services.  

For locals, Nathan Benderson Park has become a diverse venue where one weekend you might be seeing the next great Olympic hopeful participating in time trials, and the following weekend might find you enjoying a leisurely bike ride around the lake, enjoying native birds and greenery along the way. What has attracted the interest of athletes around the world has also solidified the notion that Sarasota has it all.  Not only are visitors treated to pristine weather and beautiful natural surroundings, but Sarasota has also proven it is a major player in the athletics arena, capable of attracting and hosting international sporting events.  If you haven’t been to Nathan Benderson Park lately, it’s an exciting time to catch up on all of the great activities that are happening there.  For more information, please visit their website at www.worldclassrowing.com.

United States Rowing Championship

Photo credits:  Exploring Nathan Benderson Park by: Carol Vanhook on Flickr, commercial use allowed
Nik Wallenda trains for June 23,2013 Grand Canyon Walk at Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota, Florida June 16, 2013, commercial use allowed,Eton College from Benderson Facebook Page

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