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New course has mixed reviews

ST. PETERSBURG - The St. Anthony's Triathlon pro course underwent some changes this year.

By JOHN SCHWARB and PETE YOUNG
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 28, 2002


ST. PETERSBURG -- The St. Anthony's Triathlon pro course underwent some changes this year.

In previous years, the race began on Spa Beach. The mass of competitors sprinted into the water for the .93-mile swim, finished on the beach and ran up to the transition area at the midpoint of the Pier.

This year, competitors lined up for the start on a long pontoon at nearby Vinoy Basin and dived into the water to start the race, which included two loops in the basin. They climbed stairs out of the water to the transition area, which was moved to Bayshore Drive.

There also were minor changes to the bike and run route, notably the elimination of the final few hundred yards at the end of the Pier, which is under construction. A few segments were added to make up for the lost stretch.

The finish area was moved from the Pier to Bayshore Drive.

The consensus? Some liked the alterations. Joanna Zeiger, Barb Lindquist and Sheila Taormina said they believed the pros outweighed the cons.

Race director Steve Meckfessel said there were several reasons for the adjustments.

"First, the dive start is the most dramatic," Meckfessel said. "Second, it's more spectator friendly with the swim in Vinoy Bay. And third, we can have a more centralized spectator location with the transition and race finish near each other."

Longwood native Hunter Kemper agreed the swim was great for spectators, but for competitors, it was a struggle until the end.

"It's a free-for-all out there. If you don't get to that first buoy in the top five or 10 guys, that's it. You're stuck behind all those people," Kemper said. "I'd rather have a swim that's one big loop and allows swimmers to do their thing.

"I was still getting clobbered coming up the stairs. That never happens."

FUTURE STARS: The Meek & Mighty races for youths and novices welcomed big fields and solid finishes. Nine-year-old Casey Enderlein of Valrico won the 7-10 girls division in 25 minutes, 52 seconds, and Jonathan Nunez, 10, of Fort Myers won the boys in 21:44.

Allison Kessler, 13, of Atlanta won the girls 11-14 in 28:02 and Brent Sunnucks, 14, of St. Petersburg won the boys in 26:33.

Two 15-year-olds won the 15-and-older races. Kristan McIntosh of Orlando won in 28:42, and Todd Fitzgerald of Dunnellon clocked 24:31.

SHORTER DAY: Dade City native Alison Hayden has participated in several St. Anthony's triathlons but usually just to get work in for her bigger challenges, Ironman triathlons.

But this season, Hayden, 30, is concentrating less on the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run of Ironmans and sticking more to the Olympic distance of St. Anthony's.

She is training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and keeping the Athens 2004 Games in mind.

"I want to see what I can do at this distance," said Hayden, who finished 40th in 2:15:46. "I'm trying to get the experience and hopefully race at the top by the end of the season."

MAKE THAT $65,000: The purse got a $5,000 boost when a deposit St. Anthony's gave to the International Triathlon Union was funnelled back into the total winnings, Meckfessel said. The winners of each raceearned $7,500.

ALL NOT LOST: Lindquist's third-place finish vaulted her from No.3 to No.1 in the world rankings ahead of Siri Lindley and Loretta Harrop. Age groups

COURSE: Olympic distances, .93-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike, 6.2-mile run.

WHERE: The swim starts at the Pier in St. Petersburg and finishes at Straub Park. The bike and run start and finishes also are at Straub Park.

WHEN: Participants will start the swim in waves and can be identified by cap color. 7:30 a.m. -- clydesdales, lady clydesdales, physically challenged (navy); 7:35 a.m. -- men 30-34 (white); 7:40 a.m. -- women 15-29, military (dark green); 7:45 a.m. -- men 35-39 (bright green); 7:50 a.m. -- men 15-29 (silver); 7:55 a.m. -- women 30-39 (pink); 8 a.m. -- men 40-44 (purple); 8:05 a.m. -- men 45-54 (light blue); 8:10 a.m. -- women 40-over (yellow); 8:15 a.m. -- men 55-over, relay teams (red).

REGISTRATION: Closed.

ADMISSION: Free.

ROAD CLOSINGS: Expect delays from 7:10 a.m. until noon.

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