Thousands race in and around St. Pete during St. Anthony’s Triathlon

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — One of the biggest triathlons in the country took over the streets of Pinellas County and St. Petersburg on Sunday, as racers in St. Anthony’s Triathlon swam, biked and ran their way on a tour of the county.

“It’s a race and an event that the city totally embraces,” said BayCare Health System’s Tim McMahon. “Our community just is out here supporting us and our athletes, and it’s a lot of fun and you should try it sometime if you ever have an inkling to, to get out here and do this.”

Here’s what it takes to be middle class

With the strong wind Sunday, organizers shortened the swim portion, but the biking and running sections still took contestants to the southern tip of Pinellas County and throughout downtown St. Pete.

“Perfect triathlon,” said triathlete Tony Handler. “They’re so well organized and they run it well, it’s just a fun place.”

This was Handler’s 31st St. Anthony’s Triathlon; he’s completed more than 300 triathlons in his life.

“I started out with being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about 40 years ago, and they told me I had two years to live,” Handler said. “While I was in the hospital I saw the Iron Man Triathlon on television and that inspired me.”

While Handler said he’s just staying active, others are competing in preparation of the Olympics.

“I think I just love the community,” said triathlete Chase McQueen. “Love the competitive aspect of swim bike and run and fell in love with it and yeah, now I’m doing it for a living, so it’s pretty cool.”

McQueen said he hopes to use this race to get him ready for an Olympic qualifying race in the future.

“Had a big race in London that I won last weekend,” McQueen said. “Come here, hopefully show some good fitness, get some confidence, and there’s some big races coming up in the next couple months.”

Plus, five Special Olympic Athletes competed Sunday.

“They were invited to compete in the St Anthony’s triathlon and we’ve never done this one before,” said Amy Selvey of Special Olympics Florida. “Our program is just starting in our area so we’re super excited to be invited and to participate.”

The fastest finishers completed Sunday’s race in about one hour and 34 minutes.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WFLA.