Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Racers Endure Triathlon Just to Finish

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Racers Endure Triathlon Just to Finish

Article excerpt

PONTE VEDRA BEACH -- An old race wore a new face a week ago

when entrants in the first race of the 10th annual Beaches Fine

Arts Series Sprint Triathlon Series entered the ocean near

Mickler Road.

Previous races started at the Sea Turtle Inn in Atlantic Beach.

Many racers had their own cheering section.

"Go Mommy! Go Mommy," shouted 4year-old Colin and 2-year-old

Trevor when Leah Barker emerged from the water. Her husband,

Jaguars punter Bryan Barker, took a backseat to Leah as an

athlete for the day. "Today I'm Leah Barker's husband," he said.

Sheila Hickson watched her fiancee Stephen Curran with some

concern during the swimming portion of the event.

"I hope he survives and doesn't drown in the swim because we're

getting married next Saturday [today]. This doesn't mean there

is anything wrong with his swimming," she said. "I've been

coached how to help. When he comes out of the water, he'll just

fling his stuff down and I'll pick it up."

Curran not only survived, but finished first in his age group.

The 183 registered contestants wore the status symbol of a

racer identification number scrawled on the left biceps and the

right thigh. The early morning event was the first of three

races in the series.

The sprint triathlon is made up of three events: a quarter-mile

swim, 11mile bike ride and 3-mile run. Though not as formidable

as a full triathlon, the sprint version is still an endurance

test for the contestants.

There is a wide range of experience and preparedness among the

contestants.

Greg Umberger of Riverside used the race to help train for the

Canadian Iron Man Triathlon in August.

Kim Brown, a 17-year-old junior at Middleburg High School, came

to try her first sprint triathlon at the prompting of her father

and older brother. Brown, a member of her school's track and

cross country teams, was scared prior to the race but

enthusiastic at the finish.

Thirteen-year-old Benji Rosen, the youngest contestant, raced

as part of a relay team last year, but entered as an individual

this time around. …

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