A month before some of the world’s top athletes would have descended on St. Petersburg’s scenic waterfront course for the St. Anthony’s Triathlon, organizers have called off the event because of the surge in COVID-19 patients in its own hospitals.
“As a health care leader in the Tampa Bay area, St. Anthony’s does not feel that it would be responsible to further tax our team members and those community resources at this time,” a BayCare spokesperson said in an email.
In typical years, the Oct. 1-3 event would have drawn some 4,000 competitors, many of them Olympic athletes, to the first major race on the U.S. calendar. St. Anthony’s has kicked off the triathlon season in North America for the past 37 years.
Amateur athletes also got a taste of the mud, sweat and tears of a triathlon in events like the Meek and Mighty and St. Anthony’s Sprint that had reduced distances for the bike, swim and run.
“The surge of COVID-positive patients into our hospital has increased tremendously during the past month, taxing our team members and our health care partners — emergency medical services, firefighters and police officers‚” St. Anthony’s President Scott Smith said in a news release.
“We rely on those partners throughout the Triathlon weekend for their services. It would not be responsible for us to further burden those resources at this busy time.”
It is the second time in two years that concerns about public health have caused organizers to cancel the event. Plans now call for the triathlon weekend to return in 2022 from April 29-May 1.
Organizers said they are still working through the mechanics of what this year’s cancellation will mean for registration, refunds and deferrals. Details for registered athletes will be posted by Wednesday on the St. Anthony’s Triathlon Facebook page, Facebook.com/StAnthonysTriathlon; the Triathlon website, SATriathlon.com; or the BayCare.org newsroom, BayCare.org/Newsroom.
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