Mike Melton gives new meaning to the word extreme. The Jensen Beach resident read last week's column regarding the Sunrise to Sunset Relay, a cross-the-state distance event usually run by relays, and pointed out that we left out the solo entrants.
Last March, three wildmen — Melton, Dante Ciolfi of Fort Myers and Hung Hg of Orlando — entered the race. Hung dropped out after 60 miles, but Ciolfi pressed on, completing the 170-mile course in 61 hours 22 minutes. Melton finished in 64 hours 29 minutes.
In February, as a tuneup for this year's race, Melton completed the LOST 118-mile endurance run around Lake Okeechobee. Out of the 15 starters, five finished the run. He finished fourth in 32 hours, 23 minutes.
Melton is hoping to improve his time when the Sunrise to Sunset Relay runs again March 28-29. Unseasonably warm weather last year led to problems with heat exhaustion for many runners. If the temperature remains cool, he hopes to finish in 60 hours.
More running: Don Bly, who grew up in Pinellas County and ran cross country at St. Petersburg High from 1989 to 1992 under legendary coach Rob Townsend, e-mailed last weekend to say that Pinellas isn't the only county entering runners in the Sunrise to Sunset Relay.
"We here in Tampa are also sending three teams to the Sunrise (to) Sunset Relay," Bly wrote. "All three of our teams are 12-person co-ed (6 guys & 6 gals), and we are hoping to finish 1-2-3 in this category."
Barry Hanerfeld, a longtime member of the Tampa running community, was primarily responsible for assembling the collection of 36 brave souls. Hanerfeld and Bly are both affiliated with the Blue Sharks, a training group based out of the Downtown Tampa YMCA and headed up by Fred Vasconi. The Sharks recently added Rick Cargo, a VP at Raymond James, and several of his coworkers to the team.
On another note, don't forget the Bay to Bay Classic coming up this Sunday. This 12K race, which runs straight across Pinellas County, usually produces some blistering times. Don't be deterred by the distance. There's a 5K and a fitness walk as well. Go to www.runbaytobay.com or call (727) 367-RACE.
Swimming: The St. Pete Masters is hosting its 38th annual short course yards championship at North Shore Pool on March 28-30. Organizers are expecting 250 to 300 swimmers from Florida and other states.
Admission is free, and the public is invited. Competition will run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The St. Pete Masters Team has a national reputation for attracting world-class swimmers. At this meet last spring, 40-year-old Dara Torres, a four-time Olympic gold medal winner who competed in the '84, '88, '92, and 2000 summer games, set records in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events in preparation for the 2008 Olympic trials.
Triathlon: The St. Anthony's Triathlon, scheduled for April 27, may get all the press, but many of the top amateurs competing in Florida's premiere swim, bike and run event will be warming up two weeks before at the Annual Escape from Fort DeSoto Triathlon on April 12.
"We like to call this the people's triathlon," race organizer Fred Rzymek said. "We usually get a good crowd. I expect 1,000 triathletes this year."
This race — a one-half-mile swim, 10-mile bike and 4-mile run (that includes 60 stairs up the fort and 60 stairs down the fort) — is an excellent event for the beginning triathlete.
History buffs may remember that the St. Anthony's Triathlon ran the same course its first year, before moving to downtown St. Petersburg. Rzymek moved in to fill the void. This will be the 22nd running of the race.
For more information, go to www.escapefromftdesoto.com. He puts on other events worth marking on the calendar, as well. The second annual Sunrise Beach Biathlon (formerly known as the Sunset Beach Biathlon) is scheduled for June 14. This 2-mile run, one-half-mile swim, 1-mile run is a good way to get the blood pumping on a summer's evening. To learn more, go to www.sunsetbiathlon.com.
Rzymek of Clearwater and Joe Fernandez of Tampa also publish Florida Race Place magazine, which is available at most local running and biking stores. Check it out online at www.flraceplace.com.
Hats off: Tampa's Terri Rejimbal, who was the second-place female finisher at this year's Gasparilla half-marathon, just ran the very competitive Snickers Marathon in 3 hour, 15 minutes, 33 seconds in Albany, Ga., on March 2. Rejimbal finished in 14th place among the women and was third in her age group.
Terry Tomalin can be reached at email@example.com, or by calling (727) 893-8808. Send your swimming, biking, running, triathlon and adventure racing information to community.tampabay.com and click on the "Submit info" link.