Friday, April 30, 2010

Oh, the people you'll meet

Well known for kicking off the North American race season, its warm breezes and fast course, the St. Anthony's Triathlon brings athletes from around the world to St. Petersburg, Florida. Some of their names are known to followers of the sport, while many are not. Some set record times and compete on the sports largest stage, while others set personal records on stages small. Some are Olympic competitors, while others will never don a wreath of olive leaves. Some cross the finish line in less than two hours, while many others take three, maybe four; each striving, and each deserving of their athalon.

Let's meet some of them.

Meet Gary Jones (@ChefTris)

Gary knows his recipes. Take a splash of swim, turn over the cranks, add a dash of run, a pinch of salt tablets, pour in sweat, cover with a visor, and cook for hours. Voila! It's a feast made for a triathlete.

When he's not perfecting his course cooking he's creating treats for the guests at Disney's Wilderness Lodge as resort chef. I had the opportunity to meet Gary and his wife al fresco two days before the race. He's a big fan of the "Zen & the Art of Triathlon" and the "Stay Tuned Report" podcasts. Gary, if you're cooking, I'm hungry. Just sayin'

Carla, the quintessential, neophyte age grouper triathlete was searching for a race entry and found a cause along the way. While looking for a way to register for the sold out St. Anthony's triathlon, a friend pointed her to an altruistic doorway - philanthropic racing. Every year, St. Anthony's
sets aside entries for athletes pledging to raise money for charity. After the race is sold out, an athlete can gain entry by raising money for one of the race's chosen charities. Her choice, "Project One," sponsored by the Sportsgrants Foundation. Project One provided her online market tools to promote, solicit, and collect donations to benefit the University of Florida Shands Cancer Center. And they gave her a snazzy race kit too. (see photo) A two time graduate of the University of Florida (Bachelor of Music and Master of Music) and a family affected by the ravages of cancer, the cause touched her inner noble athlete. Plus, two weeks prior she lost a long time friend to cancer, so, the affiliations matched her motivations. Sponsored by her friends, she raised money to help Shands continue its research of a cure for cancer of all types.

Meet Mandy McLane (@mandymclane)

If you see Mandy (left in photo below) before the start of a triathlon use that time to say "hello," because that will probably be the last time you'll see her until you finish. Where will she be during the race? Most likely, a head of you; way ahead of you. A former collegiate swimming champion, Mandy began racing triathlon in 2008 and quickly made her presence felt. In her first year of racing she placed in the Top 10 at the 2008 USA Triathlon National Championship. Under the coaching and mentoring of Ironman 70.3 World Champion, Joanna Zeiger, she continued her winning ways into 2009 with numerous podium finishes in the Elite Amateur division. If all went according to plan, St. Anthony's would be her final race before turning professional. How did she do? She nailed it with a victory; first overall female amateur. Like I said, introduce yourself early and anticipate in the future to stand in line for an autograph.

Meet Doris Steere (@steeredc)
Relaxed in manner and urbane in style, her "girl next door" looks and demur stature belie an Type A attitude to training and racing. Although she's only been at it for a short time, she has become a fixture on the age group podium. Her impressive race results didn't go unnoticed by athlete global positioning device maker, Trakkers, either. Doris (center in photo) is a member of their sponsored team along with notable professionals Richie Cunningham and Heather Golnick. Armed with a wicked fast bike and a punishing run, Doris is the kind of gal to flash you a big smile while dropping you like a bad habit.

Look up "inspiration" in the Encyclopedia of Awesome Athletes and you'll read about Sarah. The first above the knee amputee to complete Ironman Hawaii, she serves as an ambassador, and athlete of the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
I first met Sarah at the 2007 Wildflower Triathlon and was struck by her willingness to talk to the many athletes there to meet her for as long as they wanted. Meeting her again at St. Anthony's, she was no different. Bubbly and making everyone around her feel good she said, "Yes, I remember you. It was Wildflower, right?" Inspiring, motivating, and a great memory too.

Oh, the people you meet in triathlon. These are just a few of the inspiring, noble, and purposed athletes I've had the privilege to meet at St. Anthony's.

Stay tuned...


Coachhrd said...

What a cool post! It's amazing the friends I've made along the tri circuit.

doris said...

you've certainly got a way with words, brian :)
thanks for including me in your list. it was lots of fun hanging out and hopefully we'll get to do it again soon. now get yourself healed so you can race!

Andy said...

Thanks for the post on all the cool athlete bios! It was fun to read about all of them and their personal story, regardless of the results in the race (as you previously mentioned).

carlag8r said...

Brian, thank you so much for your kind words and for including me in this list (that's some pretty fancy company; I'll have to work really, really hard to even BEGIN to earn my keep in this list!). I'm glad to have met you (and everyone else through the wonderful world of tri) and hope our paths cross (in person) again!