In the early Sunday morning hours the weather was not looking too promising for the over two thousand participants of the Publix Escape to Miami Triathlon.
The air was chilly as rain sprinkled down on those aboard the ferry on its way out to an abandoned island in Biscayne Bay for the swimming leg of the Olympic distance race.
But gloomy conditions could not keep these athletes away.
“This might not be one of my best races because of the weather,” said Helen Mckenzie, 37, who is competing in this event for the fifth time. “It makes me nervous to bike in the rain but it’s a really fun race.”
Mckenzie first got involved in racing by running marathons and after just one race she was hooked.
“I just wanted to do one marathon to cross it off my bucket list,” said Mckenzie, who finished third in her division with a time of two hours 35 minutes 48 seconds. “That was 10 years and 15 marathons ago.”
Overcast skies welcomed what started as a miserable rainy morning turned into a perfect overcast condition for all racing.
The eighth edition of the Escape to Miami triathlon is hosting a sold-out crowd of 2,000 athletes from 30 states and 10 countries.
The “urban triathlon” was held at Margaret Pace Park and split into two divisions. The Sprint: a 1/4-mile swim, 13-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run. The Olympic: 9/10 mile swim from Pace Picnic Spoil Island, 24.8 mile bike ride over the Julia Tuttle Causeway and 6.2-mile run onto the MacArthur Causeway.
Frankie Ruiz, chief running officer for US Road Sports, said Miami’s urban style race is amongst one of the most unique in the world.
“This race has a unique format that puts athletes on the island,” Ruiz said. “There aren’t many in the world who do that.”
The event has been sold out for three weeks. Ruiz said in addition to the unique format, the warm water and urban sites attract such huge numbers.
“There is no better scenic race in the world in my opinion,” Ruiz said. “People normally start with the sprint then come back the following year for the Olympic, which is what we want them to do.”
That’s exactly what Danielle Kleppan did.
“I started with the sprint and I loved it,” said Kleppan, 29, as she prepared to swim out to Spoil Island. “This is my first Olympic distance so it’s the longest one I’ve ever done. My goal is to have fun and survive.”
Unlike Kleppan, who beat her goal time by 15 minutes with a time of 2:45:08, this was not Nicholas Chase’s first rodeo.
Chase, 26, was the first-place male winner of the Olympic division’s Elite Class with a time of 2:03:35.
“I am looking to get into longer courses so this was like a warm up,” said Chase, who finished nearly 2 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher. “I had never raced in Miami and I was really excited to come down here and see what it was all about.
“I was enticed by the website,” Chase added. “It made the race look bright and fun and it really was. This race stacks up a couple notches above the others.”
•Olympic Male Overall:
1. Rodrigo Tavares dos San, 32, Curitiba, 2:02:51. 2. Frederico Monteiro, 34, Puerto Rico, 2:03:28. 3. Nicholas Chase, 26, St. Petersburg, 2:03:35.
•Olympic Female Overall:
1. Isabel Olivas, 27, Miami, 2:20:28. 2. Ola Besser, 27, Miami Beach, 2:23:58. 3. Laura Jorgensen, 26, Miami, 2:24:32.
•Sprint Male Overall:
1. Carlos Dolabella, 51, Key Biscayne, 1:04:02. 2. Michael Mandich, 29, Miami Beach, 1:06:00. 3. Gabriel Hidalgo, 39, Coral Gables, 1:07:15.
•Sprint Female Overall:
1. Julie Lucas, 27, Miami, 1:13:09. 2. Angela Ahmet, 43, Miramar, 1:16:23. 3. Sadie Wells, 33, Miami Beach, 1:17:03.