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Sports

The ins and outs of triathlon weekend

By JESSICA MUNDIE
Published April 25, 2007


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The 24th annual St. Anthony's Triathlon weekend of events will take place along St. Petersburg's downtown waterfront Friday-Sunday.

Spectators will bring their sunscreen and lawn chairs, ready to watch more than 4,000 of the fittest triathletes on the planet, including amateurs and professionals from 46 states and 15 countries.

Cowbells will ring at the most popular viewing locations along the race course, including Coffee Pot Bayou Bridge best place to watch the runners; 3rd St. S. and Bayshore Drive near the St. Petersburg Pier (can view cyclists riding in both directions); and the race start at Spa Beach (good photo opportunities and chance to listen to knowledgeable race announcers stage the excited triathletes at the swim start).

On Friday, athletes check in at the sports and fitness expo from noon-7 p.m. near Straub Park. Admission is free and there will be multisport experts who will speak at valuable clinics and seminars.

Racing starts Saturday at nearby Northshore Pool, with the Meek & Mighty Mini Triathlon (for kids age 7-14 and rookie adults) at 8 a.m. This triathlon features a pool swim and is user-friendly to many beginners.

Spectators and volunteers will gather early at Northshore Pool, home of St. Pete Aquatics and St. Pete Masters teams. Photo opportunities also are plentiful here, and with the predicted good weather, a crowd will gather to cheer on the triathletes, who jump off their bikes and run into the pool carrying their caps and goggles (the swim is the last segment in this unique mini-triathlon format).

Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and U.S. Olympic team triathlete Hunter Kemper, 31, of Longwood both got their multisport career starts as youths who competed in Florida's kids sprint events, including Meek & Mighty Mini Triathlon. Look for Kemper this weekend, who likely will be on hand to cheer the Meek & Mighty competitors. Kemper is a hometown favorite to win the main event Sunday.

On Sunday at 7 a.m., fans and onlookers will gather at Spa Beach, next to the pier. Race distances are swim 1 kilometer, bike 40K and bike 10K. The finish line is at Vinoy Park.

The first wave of triathletes jumping into the water will be the professional men and women, racing for $56,000 in prize money. This field is the best ever assembled here, including an international collection of the sport's Olympic and world championship stars.

Among the professional men racing this weekend are U.S. Olympians Kemper and Andy Potts (recently won Ford Ironman 70.3 California Triathlon); Australians Chris "Macca" McCormick, former world champion and multiple Ironman Triathlon winner, and Craig Alexander, who won last fall's Ford Ironman World Championship 70.3, in Clearwater Beach.

The St. Anthony's Triathlon roster of professional women includes defending women's champion Becky Lavelle, who won in 2005 and '06; Canadian Samantha McClone, who won at Ford Ironman World Championship 70.3, in Clearwater Beach; and Sarah Haskins, who finished second last year at St. Anthony's Triathlon.

Watch for these top-ranked local triathletes in the new elite amateur division on Sunday: Sharon Beltrandelrio, 40, of Clearwater; Kailand Cosgrove, 17, Tarpon Springs; Kathy Frailing, 40, Largo; Holly Petrak, 40, Tampa; and Andres Munera, 36, Tampa.

The elite amateur division was created for triathletes who consistently place in the top 10 overall. Elite amateur male competitors must provide proof of completing an international distance triathlon of two hours, 10 minutes or faster; females must provide a 2:25 finishing time or faster.

At the Spa Beach start, the two waves of elite amateurs will start after the professional wave starts.

Elite amateur winners (male and female) will not be eligible for professional prize money but will win a complimentary entry into the 2008 St. Anthony's Triathlon along with hotel accommodations at the St. Petersburg Hilton for next year's race.

For more information on spectating, participants, past results and volunteering: www.satriathlon.com or call event manager Philip LaHaye at (727) 825-1271.

Times correspondent Jessica Mundie can be reached at sptimescycling@yahoo.com.

[Last modified April 24, 2007, 22:57:16]


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