By Pete Williams
ST. PETERSBURG – For all of the growth in triathlon over the last decade, there are a number of races that have been around for more than two decades – and not just a little October gathering in Kona.
Here in the Tampa Bay area, the Escape from Fort DeSoto Triathlon marked its 25th running this morning with more than 1,000 athletes competing. Most opted to forgo the wetsuits. Water temperatures were 74.5 degrees but seemed warmer. They also were surprisingly choppy, at least by our standards. We filed this report:
By Pete Williams
No wetsuits needed?
Nice piece in The Tampa Tribune today previewing the start of triathlon season, which kicks off with this weekend’s Escape from Fort De Soto Triathlon in St. Petersburg and continues two weeks from now with the St. Anthony’s Triathlon, also in St. Pete, which serves as the national season opener.
The story focuses on how swimming is the barrier for most would-be triathletes. The Escape from Fort De Soto Tri usually is wetsuit legal, which means that athletes can wear a wetsuit for the swim since water is typically below 78 degrees. Actually, you can always wear a wetsuit anyway but if the temperature is 78.1 or higher, you’re ineligible for age-group awards.
With balmy weather in the Tampa Bay area in recent weeks, water temperatures are approaching the 78.1 mark; Bay News 9 reports 77 degrees at the moment. Either way, I’m ditching the wetsuit this year. I’m a weak swimmer and the extra buoyancy speeds me along, but I don’t like the feel of wetsuits. Plus you can make up any time lost by not wearing a suit in transition, where you don’t have to squirm out of the rubber.
Another reason to love triathlon in Florida. Where else can a triathlete entertain the idea of racing from mid-April through the end of the year without a wetsuit?