ST. PETERSBURG — No sight was more inspiring than seeing triple-amputee Rajesh Durbal, an Orlando resident, run across the finish line at the St. Anthony's Triathlon on Sunday morning.
"I had a good time being out there with all my friends," said Durbal, 34, who finished fourth (2 hours, 46 minutes, 39 seconds) in the physically challenged division.
"I'm here with my dad and my Live Free team, and they travel with me wherever I go. It just feels like a one big family out there. I came out here to make a statement for myself and to people who don't think they can do a triathlon. You don't have to have the greatest bike or clothing. You just have to have faith and passion."
Durbal was born with missing bones in both legs and a partially developed right arm. He was competing in this race for the second time and improved upon last year's time of 3:04:33.
In 2010, Durbal became the world's first triple amputee to finish the Ironman championship in Kona, Hawaii.
He is the founder of Live Free and president of the Live Free Paratriathlon camp, a community outreach for the first disabled triathlon training camp in Florida.
late Start: Like last year's race, the triathlon began a bit late, the official start time moving from 6:50 a.m. to 7. Event officials wanted to make sure that all water safety teams were in place because of the choppy water, with strong wind gusts coming through the beach area. In 2009, the swim leg was canceled because conditions were deemed too rough.
Local runner wins: Kailand Cosgrove of Tarpon Springs took first in the female elite division (2:01:06).
Cosgrove, 21, has been a regular in the race since she was 15. A cross-country star at Tarpon Springs High four years ago, she now competes for Florida State.
"I felt really good during the swim and on the bike," Cosgrove said. "I kept a good pace, so it was a really good day. Pretty much a perfect race. My whole family is here, and my dad and sister are still out there running. They're just so supportive of me."
Collegiate national champion Kaitlin Shiver, 21, who raced at UF, finished ninth in the women's division in 1;56:27.
honoring fallen officers: Dressed up in wigs, sunglasses and homemade team T-shirts, the Shake N Bake relay ran for the fallen police officers of St. Petersburg.
The team consisted of Phillip Lasley (St. Petersburg), Martin Huttig (Greenville, S.C.), Jason Trieloff (Clearwater), Tom Fitzgerald (Treasure Island) and Aaron Novak (Neptune Beach).
"So many police officers are out there for us every day, and it's amazing what they do," Lasley said. "When people hear of what we're running for they're 100 percent supportive of what we're doing. We're out there just having fun. We're knuckleheads for a purpose."