GWTC triathletes got an early taste of summer at the Cape San Blas Duathlon on Saturday, April 8. An encroaching cold front stalled to the west, leaving clear skies and hot, muggy conditions for the 9:30 EDT start. The Panama City Panhandle Runners and Triathletes Club do an excellent job at organizing a low-key and fun event with unique awards. The race consists of two 2.3 mile run loops sandwiched around a 17-mile bike leg. The ample Gulf Winds contingent included grizzled veterans, fresh-faced newbies, several running-only members expanding their horizons, and the unclassifiable Dana Stetson.
After about 1.5 miles of the first run leg, the dominant runner in the event took charge. In keeping with what appears to be a trend in local races for 2000, a woman, Anna Pichrtova, charged into the transition area at Salinas Park in first place. Ms. Pichrtova, formerly of the Czech Republic, currently resides in Panama City Beach and was our overall women’s winner at Springtime Tallahassee (in 36:05!). Mike Sims, an ever-improving GWTC runner now trying his hand at duathlon, finished the first run in third place.
GWTC member Jeff Bowman kept the leaders within striking distance on the first run and exited the run/bike transition ready to blister the blacktop. A strong cyclist, Bowman quickly reeled in the leaders and never looked back. As the remainder of the competitors jockeyed for second place, a family mini-drama was playing itself out on County Road 30A. James Dexter, the biking member of the Joe/James/Nadine Dexter team inadvertently ran off the road, struck some gravel, and took a spill. Scratched up and sporting a flat tire, things looked grim for James and the Dexter team until dad Joe rode up and quickly traded bikes with James. Young James, showing a determination beyond his years, gamely completed the ride. Joe, team hero, walked James’ bike back in and accepted the cheers of an adoring crowd. The bike segment unfolded with Bowman solidly in first, and Thomas Markland of Shalimar, Florida holding on to second.
On the Women’s side, Pichrtova was caught and passed on the bike leg by Wendy Webb of Pensacola but she soon regained the lead on the second run leg and coasted to victory in 1:18:49. Carol Hageseth showed that her training for the Gulf Coast Triathlon is paying off, parlaying a super bike split into third place. Fran McLean used her running skills to claim fourth and the Masters title.
Bowman maintained his lead over Markland on the second run and finished in an outstanding 1:14:07. Bruce Moore of GWTC finished in third place in 1:16:47 and won the Masters division. However, the outstanding performance on the Men’s side had to have been the finishing kick and collapse of Dana Stetson. Let’s just say that Dana didn’t leave anything out on the course. He sprinted for the finish line, sweat and spit flying, arms and legs pumping, gasping in all available oxygen in southern Gulf and Franklin Counties. He collapsed flat on his back in the gravel driveway behind the finish line, drawing stares and offers of assistance from onlookers. Just another day at the office for Dana. In a fitting finale for the Dexter family, Nadine cruised through the second run and the Dexter team captured the team title.
All in all, Tallahasseans gathered the lion’s share of awards, which went deep in each age group. Post-race festivities included the usual swapping of stories and lies, along with free chili dogs and beverages. A special thanks to Marty Kirkland and Joe Edgecomb for orchestrating this little gem of a race and for their support of multisport athletes in the Panhandle.