By Pete Williams
MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. – With apologies – sort of – to Hawaii, SoCal, and Boulder, Florida is now the capital of the endurance sports world.
Just consider this past weekend. A 1.25-mile stretch of Madeira Beach in Pinellas County was home to the 26th annual Madeira Beach triathlon and the second-annual Gulf Coast Stand-Up Paddle Board Championship.
The St. Pete Mad Dogs did their usual terrific job hosting a two-day party. A little more than a mile to the south, Brody Welte put on what already is being called the biggest stand-up paddle board event outside of the Battle of the Paddle on the West Coast.
More than 200 paddlers, including some of the nation’s best, competed in a variety of events during the two-day Gulf Coast Stand-Up Paddle Board Championship. The event definitely had a big-time, West Coast feel to it between the SUP sponsors set up on the beach, hula girls, and band.
In what has to be a first, it was possible to do a triathlon early in the morning on Saturday or Sunday and hustle down to the GCSUPC to do one of Welte’s events, which got underway after 10 a.m. My son Luke and I did a tagteam, with Luke competing in the Madeira Beach Mini Triathlon on Saturday morning. We hustled down to the Barefoot Beach Resort, where my board was waiting, and I jumped in the four-mile open race with 10 minutes to spare.
Where else in the country can you do that?