Hot Shots

SUN 8/1
When August rears its ugly head, many of us would rather watch Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reruns than work out. There are people, however, who actually take pleasure in pushing their bodies to dizzying limits. For these fools more machine than man, we present the Midwest Meltdown.

The Meltdown, Sunday at the Kansas Speedway, includes the “Hotter Than Hell” triathlon, the “Devils Du” duathlon and the “Speedway Sprint.” The diabolical theme that surrounds the day of races seems appropriate — Kansas City in summer bears a striking resemblance to the environment of, say, Hades.

“We’ve taken all of the necessary precautions,” says Bill Marshall, the event’s organizer. “But it’s not meant to be easy. It’s going to be tough.”

We’re most excited to watch the aptly named “Hotter Than Hell,” Kansas City’s first half-ironman triathlon in 15 years. The competition, one of the few such events in the Midwest, begins with a two-lap swim around Wyandotte Lake, followed by a 56-mile bike ride around Wyandotte County and a 13-mile run on the Kansas Speedway.

“The Speedway has become popular in Kansas City and provides a unique atmosphere,” Marshall says. By “unique atmosphere,” we think he means that the asphalt lends even more heat to the race, providing further impetus for racers to keep on truckin’.

We’ll be happy to cheer for these beefy muscleheads from the comfort of the stands. Fortunately for us wimps, the Speedway offers a spectator-friendly environment (read: beer and food). Onlookers also can entertain themselves with a raffle; prizes include free tickets from Southwest Airlines. Proceeds go to the Down Syndrome Guild of Kansas City.

The races begin at 6:45 a.m. Sunday, but other events throughout the weekend include a Friday party, a Saturday pasta dinner and a T-Bones baseball game. For more information, call 913-385-8466. — Zach Jones

Do It Derby-Style

FRI 7/30
It’s the time of year for cotton candy, Ferris wheels and vehicular annihilation. Along with the smell of hot dogs and gasoline, rules like “All drivers must complete an aggressive hit on alternating competitors within 90 seconds” make us look forward to the Douglas County Fair Demolition Derby. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it’s a combination of smashing cars into each other until only one is left and … actually, that about covers it. The wet dream for car enthusiasts and lawyers starts at 7 p.m. Friday in the rodeo arena of the fairgrounds (21st Street and Harper in Lawrence). Tickets are $10; call 785-841-6322 for information. Christopher Blunk

Street Con

SAT 7/31
The AND1 Mix Tape Tour may be a chance for local basketball players to join the touring streetball outfit, but that doesn’t mean the odds are fair. Before the main event inside Kemper Arena (1800 Genessee) at 7:30 p.m., an “Open Run” outside from 4 to 6:30 encourages the members of KC’s talent pool to exhaust themselves playing each other before the top three contenders go inside to take on the touring ballers. Anyway, registration starts at 3:30 p.m., and organizers recommend that 18-and-over competitors get there early. We recommend carb-loading like crazy. Call 816-931-3330 for tickets, which start at $16.50. For more information, see — Michael Vennard

Garden Variety

SAT 7/31

All too often, people think gardening is strictly a summer activity — plant in May and pull up in September. However, with a little planning, we’ve found that we can enjoy fresh vegetables damned close to year-round. Now’s the time to get busy, though, if you want home-grown lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli and other organic goodies on the table well into those wretched winter months. Before we stick our hand spades in the soil, we’re heading to Longview Gardens (11801 East Bannister Road) at 10 a.m. Saturday for a free workshop on growing vegetables in fall. For reservations or more information, call 816-765-5664. — Joe Miller

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