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Doctor ties friend for most St. Anthony's Triathlons

JUST PASSING THROUGH: Triathletes on the bike portion of the St. Anthony’s Triathlon ride by Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg.
Published Apr. 25, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG — Dr. Michael Reilly, who works at St. Anthony's Hospital in St. Petersburg, was feeling a little under the weather Sunday, but he still lined up for his 32nd St. Anthony's Triathlon because he knew a record was at stake.

Reilly, a multisport enthusiast since the 1970s, knew his longtime friend Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Jack Helinger had a sore knee.

"Jack holds the record for the most St. Anthony's Triathlons," said Reilly, 65. "But I knew he might be sitting this one out, so I saw this as my chance to catch up."

By finishing Sunday, Reilly tied Helinger for the most St. Anthony's Triathlons at 32. This year's event was the 33rd annual race.

Reilly, who has hosted visiting pro triathletes, worked the medical tent at Saturday's Meek and Mighty triathlon. He has six sons ranging in age from 6 to 15, all active triathletes. Five of Reilly's sons raced Saturday.

"Triathlon is really an offshoot of what kids do anyway — swimming, biking and running," said Reilly, a family practitioner. "(His sons) play in all the team sports — tennis, basketball, baseball, tennis twice a week. Triathlon gives them more variety. It's natural for them to do it."

Blind triathlete comes back: Spectators might have noticed a tandem bicycle on the race course. It was for Orlando's Kyle Coon, 24, who has been blind since he was 6. When he was 10 months old, Coon was diagnosed with bilateral sporadic retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer. He lost his left eye when he was 5 and his right eye a year later.

Coon had poor eyesight for most of his life, so when he became completely blind, it wasn't much of an adjustment, he said.

"I knew I was a little different, but my parents didn't treat me any different from my sisters," he said. "When I lost my sight completely, I was lucky enough to be connected with the right people, chief among them Erik Weihenmayer (a world-class athlete who also is blind), who pushed me down the right path."

Coon went on to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and trek through the Andes of South America. On Sunday he completed his second St. Anthony's Triathlon with friend Michael Melton, who acts as his guide.

"St. Anthony's was the first-ever triathlon I had done, and I loved it so much, I wanted to come back and do it again," Coon said.

Sing, bike and run: Erin Cosgrove has triathlon in her blood. Her father, Dean, has been to the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii more than 20 times. Her sister Kailand, 24, is one of the Tampa Bay area's top elite triathletes.

Erin, an aspiring actor and singer, is a quadruple threat. She can sing, dance and act, then still do an Olympic-distance triathlon.

"This is where I did my first triathlon," she said after she sang the national anthem Sunday. "I just had to come back and do it again this year."

Cosgrove, a 27-year-old graduate of USF's music program, makes her home in Los Angeles. Her first single, Tennessee Lie, has just been released and is available on iTunes.

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