The morning temperature was brisk this past Saturday, March 15, as more than 50 people of various ages took part in the Fifth Annual Bartow Blarney Triathlon held at the Bartow Civic Center.
All within the civic center competitors were readying themselves, doing exercises to loosen up, making sure their outfits and equipment were in top, working order, eating a power breakfast, and catching up with friends and acquaintances from previous races.
It was a busy time for volunteers as well, such as Elaine Sanders, who is with the Bartow Parks and Recreation department. But it was an event she enjoyed.
“I’ve worked every one, since the beginning,” said Sanders. “It’s exciting and amazing, too, the shape these people are in.”
Jeff Olofson appeared to fit that description. This was his sixth triathlon, he said as he was having his entry number written on his leg.
“I was a marathon runner for awhile,” Olofson said as he explained how he got into triathlon competitions. For him it was because of injuries. “You run so much you get hurt, so you start biking and swimming to stay in shape.”
Every so often Wayne Jackson would make an announcement, interspersed between motivational music such as the theme to “Rocky.” Jackson, with Custom Karaoke and DJ Service, out of Plant City, served as the announcer, filling in people on registration for deadlines, putting in plugs for the sponsors, and, finally, announcing the start of the first segment: swimming.
Following a rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner by 13-year-old Natalie Chase, the race was on, and that was no blarney.
Overall Male Champion
Jesse Cookson, 35, Lakeland; time: 56.22
Male Masters Champion
Rod Crowley, 52, Lakeland; time: 1.05.44
Overall Female Champion
Regan Davenport, 42, Bowling Green; time: 1.10.45
Female Masters Champion
Ann Vestle, 59, Cedar Rapids, Mich.; time: 1:26;15