Running on titanium

Published January 10, 2007

By the time he was in college, Shawn McNair was already on crutches. At age 36, the multisport athlete's knees were shot.

"I literally couldn't walk," said McNair, a real estate agent in Pasco County who will start his running comeback in Saturday's St. Pete Beach Classic. Two years ago, St. Petersburg physician Brian Burke performed bilateral surgery, replacing McNair's knees. New titanium knees have given him back his athletic ability, McNair said.

He will run the 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) race Saturday, aiming for a pace in the 8- to 9-minute per mile range. Burke, he said, will run the race with him. "He's going to whip me, no doubt about it," McNair said. But that's okay. He is ecstatic at literally being back in the running.

McNair and Burke will be among an expected 1,800 to 2,000 runners in Saturday's 10K, 5K, mile and kids' races. It is the fourth year for the St. Pete Beach Classic, virtually all of which will be run on Gulf Boulevard and Blind Pass Road. Roads should be clear by 10:30 a.m., said Wendy Johnson, president of Motion Sports Management, which puts on the race.

The event is based at the Tradewinds Sandpiper Resort, 6000 Gulf Blvd. A health and fitness expo is scheduled Friday and Saturday, and a beach party and bonfire will be behind the resort at 7 p.m. Friday.