NEW PORT RICHEY — The burst of morning sunlight hit the streets Saturday along with the clicking of bicycle gears and the pounding of runners' feet, as the third annual Cotee Man Triathlon went from chaos to a coordinated event.
This year's race was under the control of a new director, Rob Marlowe, who made changes to attract a bigger crowd. Previously known as the Chaotic Cotee Man Triathlon, the event lacked organization that led to participant complaints. But with Marlowe's changes, the event went from 57 racers last year to 105 on Saturday.
"We got the word out way in advance to try to promote it, which helped with the turnout," said Marlowe, a certified race director. "We tweaked the bike and running courses, we had maps we gave to the athletes and race marshals on the course for the first time. We wanted better organization on the volunteer level, and I would bet that we have twice the volunteers we had last year."
In the past, one of the biggest problems for racers was navigating the bike and running courses that wove through the streets of New Port Richey. This year, there was less confusion, Marlowe said.
"We still had some people get off-track," Marlowe said. "But, overall, I think our efforts to keep the runners informed and the assistance we got from volunteers really helped with that side of it. All those little things came together to make a difference, and we've tried to make this as good as we could. By and large, people are coming out of it smiling."
Participants noticed a big improvement in the organization of the event. Beth Gerber, 70, came from Orlando to compete with friends from the area for the second year in a row. She runs in three or four triathlons a year, but was particularly happy with the organization of this event.
"We've done this once before, and I have to say this one was manned a lot better," Gerber said. "I'm from out of town and I thought for sure that I was going to get lost, but I did not. Everything was perfect. The volunteers were very helpful. It's a nice, easy race."
Others like Rodney Eurquhart from St. Petersburg were new to the event, but were convinced by the experience to do it again next year.
"I actually came up just to do the bike portion and ride along with some friends," Eurquhart said. "But after watching it and hearing from friends that the organizational side of it has improved, I think it might be fun to do the whole thing next year. Then it would be worth the drive, too."
David Rice can be reached at email@example.com.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: The Cotee Man Triathlon was held Saturday. An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect date.