After a two-year absence, the Fitness Challenge Triathlon took place on Sunday morning in Naples with a lot of enthusiasm and a little sadness at the news that the event will soon lose its home for over three decades.
The annual triathlon returned after being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID virus. An estimated 468 participants were happy to be back. However, this was the final event at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club on Gulfshore Boulevard. The property is slated to close this month.
Naples student Dan O’Dell came in first despite the events he is not used to.
“I can’t complain about how things turned out. It went very smoothly, ”said O’Dell, a student at Montreat College (NC) specializing in exercise science. “I paced up and down early in the race and pushed it very hard at the bike event. I’m used to only running on the track in Montreat so there were some things that were new to me. When swimming I gave everything and gave everything I had left. “
O’Dell finished the event in 47 minutes and laughed as he said his biggest challenge was getting his glasses fogged up in the water.
“I trained a lot and just went through whatever I did,” said O’Dell. “After that, everything came out as if it were second nature.”
Anthony Renda, who lives in Naples and a senior executive at Renda Broadcasting, finished third overall in the triathlon. He calls it nothing less than “a Naples tradition”.
“Look at that. That’s beautiful, ”said Renda. “The race is well done and there are a lot of safety precautions. This is one of my favorite events every year. “
Renda, which ended in 52: 20.9, describes most of the course as mostly flat, but a good challenge – even the part in the Gulf of Mexico, which of course is far from flat at times.
“The swimming out there was kind of an apartment today when it’s historically wavy out there,” said Renda. “It was a decent bath. The running and cycling classes were easy and great for all levels. There were a variety of talents. However, there are still challenges. The event has a lot of professionalism in the way it is carried out. “
Kayla Pokomy won the women’s competition and was second overall after O’Dell.
Timothy Lyster was the first between the ages of 55 and 59 and Christopher Gworek was the first between the ages of 45 and 49. Justin Moomaw, who finished eighth overall, finished second in the running segment.
While triathlon is all about running, swimming, and cycling, a large part of the event is just community.
“What makes this a success is the local competitors and the local community,” said event organizer Linda Gregory. “This is the only triathlon some of them will be in all year round and it’s great fun to come out and just compete. Everyone was done and everyone was having fun. And we’re grateful for the great community support we have here. “
Gregory said the event has not yet planned a venue for 2022 but is confident that it will take place somewhere on Naples’ pristine Gulf Coast.
“We will miss this venue very much,” said Gregory. “We loved having it here and we thank the Watkins family for having us.”
FITNESS CHALLENGE TRIATHLON
Men’s top 5
1. Dan O’Dell, 47:00; 2. Anthony Renda, 52:20, 9; 3. Alexander Williams, 52: 44.1; 4. Mike Hammersley, 53: 37.6; 5. Brian Burgan, 54: 09.4
Women top 5
1. Kayla Pokomy, 50: 53.8; 2. Heather Butcher, 58: 11.9; 3. Kaileen Healy, 58: 18.8; 4. Mallory Reinoso, 1: 00.53.1; 5. Karen Tamson, 1: 3/1/8