July 28, 2012 Ft Desoto Park, St. Pete, Florida.
The early morning darkness was invaded by over 1200 dedicated triathletes, their families and friends this Saturday. 5:00 AM does not come easy to many, but these driven individuals and relay teams have something inside of them that makes them do this. Whether it’s a bucket list thing or trying to set a new Personal Record (PR), these people have one thing in common – to cross the finish line as fast as they can.
The Top Gun Triathlon consists of swimming 1/4 mile, biking 10 miles and running 3.1 miles. The quickest can do this in less than an hour. The average is less than 2 hours. Just finishing is an accomplishment for all.
It started with the athletes entering the well-guarded Gulf of Mexico in 14 different waves (depending on age and sex). Then after a quick run from the beach to the parking lot, on to the bike route which was closed to traffic. Then, the run along a separate path and onto the beach and trail and back to the finish. While crossing the finish line, the athlete’s name was announced so that all present could celebrate their victory.
The professionalism and customer-oriented service of the race staff extended from even the early email reminders to bring bug spray through the very helpful expo and packet pick-up and finally the race officials on the course. At the expo and at the race, vendors offered great deals on equipment, clothing and even helped with final adjustments on gear.
The race staff was very attentive to the athletes, encouraging them to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. There were even golf carts driving along the running course that offered water to the competitors (in addition to the water stations every mile). There were encouraging and friendly race officials at every turn of the course.
Finally, there was a post-race cook out with hot dogs and hamburgers, beans and coleslaw. Hydration was again the day’s mantra with protein shakes, energy drinks and water available everywhere.
Results were posted on the same day so that everyone could celebrate the “official” time but many celebrated their accomplishment with a well-deserved hug and smooch from a loved one.
The Top Gun Triathlon was promoted as a beginner-friendly triathlon but looking around at the post-race activities, it seemed that all enjoyed themselves well. It will definitely be on my “repeat list” for 2013
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