The St. Anthony’s Hospital Triathlon is generally the second triathlon event of the year for us South Florida multi-sport athletes. Located in beautiful St. Petersburg, FL, this race draws competitors from all over the world. It is the USAT Regional Club Championship as well.
The day before the race we had checked in our bikes, now it’s time to set up our transition gear. It’s DARK at the race venue, but there’s decent lighting and not too much problem setting gear up. I am chatting with the guys on either side of me, “how many times have you done this race?”, etc. Nerves are a little high right now. They usually are before a race, and this is how I “bring myself down”. After my transition area set up, I meet my friend Terri to head over to the swim start area.
The Swim Segment
The first part of the swim segment was a straight shot along shore (that part is also for the sprint athletes). After that segment, we’re heading out to open water for a giant rectangle-shaped segment. At this point, I have broken away from my very large age grouping. I am starting to pass swimmers from waves starting before mine. I keep my rhythm going and soon I’m at the swim exit. Now, we have to climb a set of stairs to get out of the water. Then it’s a pretty short run to the transition area. Volunteers were there to help strip off your wetsuit, and some comical situations ensued.
The Bike Segment
Transitioning from swim to bike seems to always take me a bit longer than most. I have to figure out how to shorten my time in transition! Once on the bike I am immediately greeted by a street filled with teeth-chattering cobblestones. After getting through THAT section, we took a loop through town and then headed off in the countryside away from town.
There’s a famous section of the St. Anthony’s Hospital Triathlon bike course here where the road is very bumpy. Even the residents are out with signs saying “Yes we know the road is bad!”. My first time on this road, I thought my bike was gonna shake apart, or at least lose a few screws. LOL After getting through THAT part, we’re headed back towards town. It’s a smooth ride past the Dali Museum and the Tampa Bay Rowdies stadium. Back on the cobblestones, I know I’m close to the dismount area, and headed to transition once again.
The Run Segment
My bike-to-run transition was much faster this time, and I’m out on the course quickly. The run course is a simple “out and back” run: 3.1 miles out, 3.1 miles back. It runs through a couple of beautiful St. Pete neighborhoods. Some of the residents are out with hoses, ice water, fruit and even beer shots for the runners. There’s also plenty of official water stops and occasionally live music from residents along the way. The temperature is really up there now. I took advantage of every tree shadow, ice cube and garden hose to get through. This run segment is one of my favorites, and I had a real good pace going.
The St. Anthony’s Hospital Triathlon is a race I have done every year for the last 4 years, and it’s very popular. The swims are well-laid out, and the bike and run courses are well-marked with plenty of volunteers. I recommend it as your first “destination race” because there are a lot of things to do in St. Pete. Besides the International distance (which I did), there’s a much shorter Sprint distance available. They also have an even shorter race called the “Meek and Mighty” for kids and beginner adults..
Be sure to check out the photo gallery for the triathlon HERE