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St. Anthony's event wants more locals

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 7, 2001

Visiting and local multisports enthusiasts have been seen running the St. Anthony's Triathlon race course, winding down Brightwaters Blvd. past showplace homes and ending at the Straub Park finish line.

Runners sometimes stop at an imaginary Straub Park finish line, which is, in reality, a freshly scribbled chalk line on the tiny road near the Vinoy Basin. Each year, the St. Pete Mad Dogs refer to this as their howling hometown advantage.

Online registrations for the April 28-29 race have been streaming in at 100 per week, says St. Anthony's Triathlon coordinator Steve Meckfessel.

"This is a race director's dream, of course," Meckfessel said. "But, we need to get the word out to our local athletes.

"Folks who are buying plane tickets are registering by the hundreds, and locals figure they can wait," he said. "But, even though our field will be expanded to 1,600 and 100 relay team members, I think it will close out by March 1."

A safe race is Meckfessel's first concern, and the tight, twisty bike course makes it difficult to have more than 1,600 riders.

"Safety is first and foremost for us," Meckfessel said. "The venue itself can only handle so much, with new tree planting and the actual size of Straub Park.

"We also want to discourage illegal bike drafting, and the size of this field has to be maintained for safety and for this reason."

Participation in Florida's triathlons is at an all-time high. Organizers for this fall's Ironman Florida at Panama City Beach just announced that their field of 1,500 has reached maximum capacity. Athletes registering for races are less wary of using their credit cards on the internet, and busy competitors receive immediate online confirmation instead of waiting weeks for an envelope in the mail.

For St. Anthony's Triathlon information, including an updated list of 2001 entrants, log on to, e-mail Meckfessel at, or call (727) 825-1271.

WARD MEMORIAL PROJECT: Seminole's Roger Burke has signed up for St. Anthony's Triathlon.

In between coaching and his own training, Burke has taken on the job of raising the funds to sponsor a Pinellas Trail water fountain in honor of the late Ironman Jim Ward.

"How fitting it will be for weary travelers coming south at the 22-mile mark, or heading north on the trail, to know that the water assisting them on their journey is provided in the memory of our own Jim Ward," Burke said.

Burke hopes to see the water fountain installed on the Pinellas Trail, just north of 102nd Ave. N. in Seminole. The cost of the fountain will be approximately $3,500. To volunteer or contribute to the project, call Burke, (727) 392-2429.

TRIATHLON TRAINING: Lou's Bicycle Center, 8990 Seminole Blvd. in Seminole, the official shop of St. Anthony's Triathlon, is offering ongoing instruction on indoor trainers, wetsuit swimming and proper bike fit. For information, call (727) 398-2453.

USA Triathlon coach Diane Berberian will team up with former Olympic Trials rider Tony Prioli for the free Multisports Clinic, noon-4 p.m. Saturday at Chainwheel Drive, 1770 Drew St., in Clearwater. For more information, call (727) 441-2444.

IRONMAN INSTITUTE: Online triathlon training and clinics at Westin Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor offer the latest in sports medicine from the Ironman Institute.

Recent online coaching involves using the Computrainer, data on wattage, rpms, gearing and energy expenditure on rides. Technology continues to invade multisport training, as shown by the increasing number of heart rate monitors being sold and worn.

Many bay area triathletes have been tested by Ironman's Dr. Allen Hughes, who's in search of an accurate anaerobic threshold (AT) -- the number used to calculate heart rate monitor target zones to train in.

For more information on St. Anthony's training programs or AT testing, check or call (727) 781-3550.

OVEREND WINS AGAIN: Only Naples Ironman champion Joe Bonness can match the career accomplishments of Team Specialized superstar Ned Overend of Durango, Colo.

Overend, 45, a two-time Maui X-Terra champion, won USA Triathlon's U.S. Winter National Championship last weekend at Snow Mountain Ranch Nordic Ski Area near Winter Park, Colo.

Fresh powder fell for the run/mountain bike/ski event, bringing in an elite field that included 2000 Olympic Games triathlete Ryan Bolton. A fit and more experienced Overend was calm and smiling as he rode away in the deep snow with a few kilometers to go, capturing his 10th national title.

WINONA TRIATHLON: Begin your 2001 season by celebrating around a campfire, staying overnight in a cabin and competing in a swim/run/bike in the woods at Camp Winona.

The 17th Winona Classic Triathlon is scheduled for 8 a.m. on March 25 in DeLeon Springs. The event will consist of a .25-mile swim in Lake Winona, 3.1-mile trail run and 15.5-mile bike on paved, rural roads. For more information, call John Boyle, (904) 736-0002.

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