The Santa Rosa Island Triathlon – a Gulf Coast tradition

THEE Gulf Coast Sprint Triathlon

I was in Pensacola Beach, FL this weekend for the 17th annual Santa Rosa Island triathlon – an event that I’ve been attending and racing with multiple family members (some years as many as 30 of us!) for many years.  My grandmother, Ann Knight, founded the race in 1996.  She and Charlie Knight (Poppop) Co-Directed the race for 9 years.  In 2000, the sport of triathlon made its debut in the Olympic Games.  Right after her win as the Australian Olympic Silver Medalist for in the inaugural Olympic Triathlon, Michellie Jones came to Pensacola Beach, and won the Santa Rosa Island Triathlon.  I was there that year, amazed by the people and the energy (and Michellie!) and marveled at how our little race was getting so big.  In 2005, the SRI TRI was featured in Inside Triathlon magazine as one of the world’s top 10 destination races!

This race has endured all of the Gulf Coast’s hardships over the recent years – including cancelling all together due to hurricane Ivan in 2004, which devastated Santa Rosa and surrounding counties.   In spite of oil spills and hurricanes, the SRITRI has been and will continue to be a Gulf coast triathlon tradition, a flagship event for the entire Gulf Coast region.  Today, the Race Director is Charles Gheen and he does an awesome job, along with Board Members Jehan Clark, Diane Martinez, Jackie Brown, countless volunteers, sponsors and community support.  The race is back to selling out every year – back up to 1,100 athletes on October 8, 2012, the 17th annual.

This year was a great race with perfect weather.  Beautiful beach.  Nice little weekend getaway.  That’s why we picked Pensacola Beach for the GCI Relay finish line too!

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