Emerald Coast Triathlon #1


By Jimmy Kalfas


“. . . one stroke forward, three strokes back. . .” Seems to be the same theme song for the early season trigeeks participating in the Emerald Coast Triathlon series of triathlons.

Jerry Lynch and his capable crew kicked off the 2003 multi-sport season at Panama City Beach, Saturday, April 26, 2003. Under perfect skies, and braving the remnants of a fast moving, spring cool front nearly 200 athletes braved the elements for the start of 2003 Emerald Coast Triathlon Series.

Race #1, after a lengthy delay for the placement of the swim buoys, as yet again, the wave runners had trouble running the waves, began much like the other Race #1’s of the series. With 4-6 swells that had a knack for getting really big as they broke across the sandbars in front of Spinnakers, the third of a mile swim began, with the athletes feeling much like they were in a washing machine! After a challenging swim across the sand bars, the athletes got a welcome respite from the turmoil of the breakers. Turning back towards the beach, they again got the swish-swash treatment of the washing machine, as again, they had to cross the sand bars. Unfortunately, 30 or so brave competitors were forced to call it a day, when they were unable to conquer the waves.

Once through the swim, and 50 to 100 yards down the beach from the entry to the transition area, sprints through the white powered sand was the order of the day.

Scheduling the race after spring break and before the Memorial Day holiday enabled the athletes to enjoy a flat fifteen mile course with plenty of police for directing what little traffic we encountered. A fair westerly headwind on the outbound leg led to a refreshing and spirited ride back to Spinnakers parking lot and the transition area.

A cool sip of water or sports drink and the athletes headed east and into the adjacent residential neighborhood for the 3.25 mile run portion of the triumvirate of disciplines. Flat, and under clear North Florida skies, the temperature quickly rose to the mid 80’s and gave a glimpse into the potential for the Gulf Coast Triathlon.

Race headquarters is now the world famous Spinnakers. With plenty of cold beer, courtesy of a benevolent corporate sponsor, huge hamburgers, and grilled chicken, bruised egos were soon restored to health. As the beer flowed the tales of the mornings feats grew, and the height and intensity of the waves grew.

During the awards ceremony, to an outside observer, it would appear as though Tallahassee was the only city represented. It did seem at one time, that every person from Tallahassee that finished also won an award.

Tallahassee Area Results:

Jeff Bowman 1:10:33 1st Male Masters
Phil Leboutillier 1:16:19 3rd 35-59
Dillon Fritz 1:20:00 7th 25-29
Aaron Davis 1:21:04 2nd 20-24
George Palmer, Jr 1:25:54 2nd 55-59
Rob Cunningham 1:26:09 2nd 50-54
Matthew Sampson 1:26:19 10th 25-29
Joel Springer 1:32:34 8th 30-34
Michael Porter 1:35:16 1st 17-19
Ronald Morrell 1:44:10 3rd 50-54
Jimmy Kalfas 1:44:45 4th 50-54
Michael Ledbetter 1:44:45 6th 35-39
Lee Porter 1:47:41 3rd 14-16
John Pipkin 1:47:55 4th 12-14
Brecht Heuchan 1:55:29 15th 30-34 (flat tireL)