MARIANNA, Fla. (WMBB)– More than 200 triathletes raced at the 2020 Freedom Springs Triathlon at Blue Springs County Recreation Area in Marianna.
“I had six races for this year, but everything has been canceled except this one so, very excited,” said triathlete Brent Moody.
The race had to be canceled last year as the park was being repaired after Hurricane Michael. Race director, Olga Cemore, was determined to have the Independence Day event happen this year.
“We have to respect what’s going on, but we have to live,” Cemore said.
Race organizers put several practices into place to ensure proper safety measures were met during the triathlon. There were individual water stations, sanitizing stations and wash stations. The athletes also started the event one at a time as oppose to a group swim.
The race offered what they called a “rona wave” for anyone who wanted to add more distance between themselves and other racers.
All athletes wore a timing chip, so they had a chance to win no matter when they crossed the start line.
“If someone wanted to be all the way in the back away from everyone they certainly had that option,” Cemore said.
Finishers medals were picked up individually by the athletes as oppose to having volunteers place them around the triathletes necks’. The awards ceremony could be heard all throughout the park to ensure social distancing measures remained in place following the race.
Racers said it was great to be back around other athletes.
“When you are with people at a race, you up your level no matter what,” said triathlete and Panama City Beach resident, David Shearon.
Triathletes said they weren’t concerned for their safety during the sprint triathlon.
“I feel like its a safe place to be, we’re all outdoors and we’re all out here because we want to be here,” said triathlete, Mindi Straw.
Cemore said she was happy the event could still be held on the 4th of July.
“I came from a country that doesn’t have all the freedoms that people here do and 4th of July should be celebrated,” Cemore said.
Roger Hagues of Georgia came in first place with a time of 52:43.
Panama City Beach triathlete David Shearon placed fifth with a time of 56:18. He said it was great to be back with his community of racers.
“Hopefully things will calm down and we’ll have more triatholans to race in,” Shearon said.