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Mad Dog to Tampa's DeCosta

Bob DeCosta made the most of a choppy gulf swim Sunday to win the 15th annual Mad Beach Mad Dog Triathlon (swim .5 mile, bike 15 miles, run 3.1 miles) in 1 hour, 6 minutes, 50 seconds.

May-Li Cuypers, 33, of Belleair Bluffs, a seasoned nationally ranked competitor, won the elite female division in 1:14:18.

DeCosta, 37, a champion swimmer from Tampa, won the elite male division after holding off Largo's Mike Hofstetter, a powerful cyclist.

"I was first off the bike by about 45 seconds," DeCosta said.

"I thought maybe Mike would catch me, but I looked back after the Park Boulevard bridge, and I saw nobody."

DeCosta won the race in 1998. Hofstetter, a Hawaii Ironman triathlete who missed St. Anthony's Triathlon because of the flu, started as a favorite, racing to second place in 1:07:30.

Palm Harbor's Philip Lahaye, 27, was third in 1:08:59, coming off an age-group victory at the Gulf Coast Southeast U.S. Championship Triathlon in Panama City Beach last weekend.

Top masters at Madeira Beach were Alan Almengual, 40, of St. Petersburg in 1:08:22, and Linda Musante, 46, of Tampa in 1:16:07.

Events on Saturday included children's mini-triathlons, and a first-timers Mighty Adults race in which a blind triathlete made his debut.

"I called Aron Jones after meeting him at Camp Good Kids," Tampa triathlete George LaBanca said.

"He has no sight but was excited about doing it after Lou's Bicycle Center in Seminole donated a tandem. We swam side by side, rode the tandem, and he ran with a guide dog. The yellow Mad Dog T-shirts lined Gulf Boulevard cheering us. The louder the cheers got, the bigger Aron's smile got."

Jones, 20, of Largo won the male 20-24 division.

Organizer York Somerville estimated the field totaled 900.