Sunday, June 24, 2018
Health

Pinellas-Pasco judge headed for three-decade triathlon streak

Ask any veteran triathlete and they will tell you that the hardest part of this multi-sport endurance event is not the swim, bike or run, but simply making it to the starting line.

"It can wear on you," confessed Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Jack Helinger, who on Sunday hopes to complete his 30th consecutive St. Anthony's Triathlon. "Some years have been better than others."

According to race officials, Helinger is the only person to have a perfect record when it comes to triathlon participation.

Helinger, a 62-year-old father of two, was a multi-sport athlete in high school and played softball and flag football after graduating from Georgia Tech. Then, in 1984, he heard about this event called a "triathlon."

"I was running a lot at the time," he said. "But something about three different activities really appealed to me."

The inaugural race, held at Fort DeSoto Park, was called the Tampa Bay Triathlon. The first stop of a 12-city U.S. Triathlon Series tour, the race had the distinction of being the first to use the format of 1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run, which would become known as the "Olympic" distance.

The Tampa Bay Triathlon also was the first to use the wave start for the swim and electronic timing. In the early 1980s, triathlons were hardly big business. Entrants didn't ride expensive road bikes and when it came to safety, cycling helmets were a rarity. Most people thought the triple-sport endurance event was a passing fad.

That first year, it drew about 600 competitors. The following year, when St. Anthony's Hospital took over the event, the competition moved to downtown St. Petersburg and more than 1,000 people swam, biked and ran along the city's emerging waterfront.

"I can remember being just happy to finish," said Helinger, whose wife Chris is also a judge. "It wasn't nearly as competitive back then as it is today."

Each year, when April rolled around, Helinger would ask himself the same question: "Am I going to do this again or not?"

Over the years, Helinger had his share of minor injuries, but nothing major.

"I think the reason why I was able to come back year after year is because I never took it to the level that some of the people I know did," he said. "I always kept it in perspective."

Helinger, still trim and fit, declined to discuss his personal records, other than to describe himself as a "solid, middle of the packer."

Helinger has fought the urge to try longer distances.

"I think that is one of the secrets of longevity as a triathlete," he said. "If you stick to the Sprints and Olympic Distances you can do this forever."

"I don't think I deserve any special credit or recognition," he said. "The real heroes are the hundreds of volunteers who show up year after year to make sure that everybody has a safe race."

Comments
ScART program empowers people to explore their scars and express their feelings through art

ScART program empowers people to explore their scars and express their feelings through art

ST. PETERSBURGShyly, 8-year-old Annabelle Brassfield climbed atop a stool in front of a blank easel, grabbed a brush she named Scarlet and prepared to paint her scars. After three open heart surgeries for a severe congenital heart defect, she’s left ...
Published: 06/22/18
Enjoy Israeli Couscous, Swiss Chard and Peppers warm or at room temperature

Enjoy Israeli Couscous, Swiss Chard and Peppers warm or at room temperature

By Katie WorkmanIsraeli or Mediterranean couscous are tiny balls of toasted semolina pasta that plump up when cooked into toothsome, slightly less tiny balls of pasta. They make a great base for a side or salad. You can make the couscous according to...
Published: 06/22/18
‘BE AWARE’: Pasco mom posts to Facebook after son’s caterpillar sting leads to ER trip

‘BE AWARE’: Pasco mom posts to Facebook after son’s caterpillar sting leads to ER trip

ZEPHYRHILLS — The Pergolas’ Saturday morning volunteer work started like most, at a farm cleaning the property and trimming trees. Andrea Pergola, 38, stood on the driveway of the property when she heard her 15-year-old son Logan scream. At first, sh...
Published: 06/20/18
Moffitt receives $1 million donation from Richard Gonzmart

Moffitt receives $1 million donation from Richard Gonzmart

TAMPA — Runners gathered for the Gonzmart’s Father’s Day Walk and Jog where they raise money to help aid in Moffitt Cancer Center’s fight against prostate cancer. This year the event raised $110,000, but Moffitt had another surprise in store.Andrea G...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

GENEVA — Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organization says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing. In its latest revision to a disease class...
Published: 06/19/18
Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

Funded by Alcohol Industry, Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down

The extensive government trial was intended to settle an age-old question about alcohol and diet: Does a daily cocktail or beer really protect against heart attacks and stroke?To find out, the National Institutes of Health gave scientists $100 millio...
Published: 06/16/18
More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults take prescription drugs that may increase risk of depression, study says

More than a third of American adults are taking prescription drugs, including hormones for contraception, blood pressure medications and medicines for heartburn, that carry a potential risk of depression, according to a study published in the Journal...
Published: 06/12/18
It’s time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

It’s time to use the stingray shuffle to avoid a nasty sting

Courtney Bilyeu was running toward the murky water alongside a few military officers when it happened.She was an accountant for the U.S. Navy at the time. And on her way to take a swim with some coworkers in a California beach, she saw blood. The wat...
Published: 06/12/18
It’s important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

It’s important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days, ophthalmologists say

The next time you head to the drugstore to buy sunscreen, don’t forget to pick up some sunglasses, too. That’s because both products work to protect your body from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays.Wearing sunglasses for protection should not be re...
Updated one month ago
In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

In St. Pete, kidney patients gather for science and solidarity

ST. PETERSBURG — Kidney disease doesn’t discriminate.The crowd of more than 200 patients who gathered at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort range in age from teenagers to seniors. They are of different ethnicities and come from all over the...
Updated one month ago