An even 100 persons showed up at the Bartow Civic Center last Saturday, ready to brave the conditions and reach for the finish line in the fourth annual Bartow Blarney Triathlon. The event, run under the auspices of USA Triathlon, drew competitors from California, Colorado, Iowa, Michigan and throughout Florida.
A brisk morning greeted the volunteers, who showed up at 5 a.m. to assist in the parking for participants and spectators. The prevailing question of the morning was the temperature in the Sam Griner pool, which checked in at 66 degrees. Swimmers moved quickly through the water in the Aqui Chiropractic quarter-mile swim. From there, the group jumped on their bicycles to get the best time in the Road & Trail Bicycles 12-mile bike competition. The final leg was a 5K dash in and around Floral Lakes to return to the finish line at the Bartow Civic Center.
Lakeland competitor Jesse Cookson completed the course in 58 minutes and 22 seconds to win the men’s overall division. Amber Griffith of Lakeland had the top woman’s time of 1 hour, 10 minutes and six seconds.
Rod Crowley of Lakeland won male masters with Judith Postell of Lakeland taking female masters honors.
Bartow residents were well represented in the final standings. Jimmy Hiott claimed the win in men 40-44 while Steve Bent took the title in men 60-64. Bartow’s Alex Aqui placed fifth in Clydesdale. The ladies 20-24 division was all Bartow as Betsy Rupp captured the division title. Sisters Jillian Ehrhart and Erin Ehrhart ran neck and neck for second with Jillian powering at the finish line to take the spot.
Plans are under way for the 2014, which is scheduled for March 15.