© St. Petersburg Times, published October 21, 2002
Peter Kotland, 30, of Spartanburg, S.C., won the Great Floridian Triathlon in Clermont in 9 hours, 23 minutes, 20 seconds.
Naples triathlete Sara Weaver, 38, was the top woman for the second straight year, finishing in 10:40:07.
Weaver's 2001 time of 10:34:56 is the course record for women. Saturday's windy conditions, along with a slight bike course change, preserved the record.
The event drew 900 competitors and again received USA Triathlon's designation as the U.S. national championship in the Ironman distance (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and 26.2-mile run).
Triathletes jumped into Lake Minneola at 7:30 a.m., and the last competitor finished at 1 a.m. Sunday. The top bay-area finisher was newcomer Kim Donaldson, 41, of St. Petersburg, who was second to Weaver in 11:03:16.
Donaldson won the Jacksonville Marathon last season in 3:01 and was fifth in her age group in her first Ironman at Lake Placid, N.Y., in June.
"When I did Ironman USA at Lake Placid in 11:50, nobody could believe it," Donaldson said. "It was my first Ironman triathlon, and I only started doing triathlons the year before. I added some more long rides up in San Antonio, and decided at the last minute to race in Clermont. I figured we would see what I could do in my own back yard."
For race results log on: www.greatfloridian.com.
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii -- Larry Parker's race number said it all: 343.
The New York firefighter wore it to remember the 343 firefighters who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Parker of Ladder 129 in Queens also wore a T-shirt with the names of all 343 printed on the back for the bicycle ride and run.
"There were some rough spots, and they carried me," said the 39-year-old Parker, from Amityville, N.Y., after he finished the 2.4-mile ocean swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and 26.2-mile run in 10:17.
His time was eight minutes faster than his finish in 2000.
"It wasn't for me this time, so it didn't matter how I did," he said. "It was very emotional. I got too emotional three times on the course and hyperventilated. The cameras were following me and I lost it."
Parker was on vacation training for last year's race at the time of the attacks. He spent the next two weeks helping in the rescue effort at the World Trade Center. He canceled his plans for that year's race and then had trouble getting motivated to try again this year.
But running in memory of his fallen brothers got him motivated.
"I'll never forget these guys," he said, "I knew a lot of them."
The crowds and volunteers also were supportive, Parker said.
"They also lifted me," he said. "It was a magical day."
Tim DeBoom, from Lyons, Colo., ninth after the second leg, rallied in the marathon to repeat as champion in 8:29:56.
Natascha Badmann of Switzerland won her third straight women's title in 9:07:54, her best time in the competition.
-- Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.