St. Anthony’s Triathlon Crowns Two First-Time Champions

April 28, 2024
A woman dressed in athletic clothing smiles broadly while holding the finish line tap after winning a race.
Lisa Becharas smiles broadly when she crosses the finish line at the St. Anthony’s Triathlon. It was Becharas’ first professional win.

Inside the media tent, Marc Dubrick was in the midst of describing his elation in winning the men’s professional bracket of the world-renowned St. Anthony’s Triathlon on Sunday morning when he heard the name of the woman’s champion blared over the P.A. – Lisa Becharas. “That’s my teammate!” he interjected.

Apologizing for cutting the interview short, Dubrick was off to the races again, this time covering only a short distance to the finish line, where he gave Becharas a celebratory hug and proclaimed, “We just did that!”

Dubrick and Becharas, both based in Boulder, Colorado, are among eight professional triathletes who compete for The Real Triathlon Squad, a group founded in 2020 to help pro competitors during the COVID pandemic. Their dual win at St. Anthony’s, drawing some 3,000 entrants on the scenic downtown course, was certainly a feather in the cap for their squad. But it was also a moment to savor for each of them – the first victorious finish in St. Petersburg in three tries for Dubrick, and the first in two for Becharas.

“It’s a really special feeling for us both to win – we see each other all the time at races throughout the year,” Dubrick said. “It’s such a solo sport, and when you can win together, I don’t know – I think we’re both speechless.”

The idea of a double win crossed Becharas’ mind while she was cycling and caught a glimpse of Dubrick leading second-place finisher Chase McQueen, an Olympic hopeful for the Paris Games this summer, in the run.

“I thought, ‘Marc is such a good runner, he’s going to win,’ and then I thought, ‘Maybe I can get on the podium, too!’” she said. “Running’s not my strength, so I just rode as fast as I could on the bike to give myself a chance.”

A man dressed in athletic clothing holds the tape after crossing the finish line first in an athletic competition.
Marc Dubrick holds the finish line tape high after finishing first in the men’s professional wave of the St. Anthony’s Triathlon. It was Dubrick’s first win at the St. Petersburg event.

Strong winds early Sunday morning prompted race officials to cut the swim portion of the event from 1,500m to 750m in the 41st edition of the race, but the rest of the Olympic distances were unchanged – a 40km bike ride and a 10km run. Dubrick crossed the line without much drama in a time of 1:34.33, some two seconds ahead of McQueen’s 1:36.04.  

The women’s race, meanwhile, was a nail-biter, with Becharas winning with a time of 1:46.40 – just ahead of Brazilian standout Vittoria Lopes at 1:46.51. Finishing third, respectively in the men’s and women’s events were Nicholas Quenet (1:36:08) and Kate Curran (1:47:02).

“Even with the shortened swim, I wasn’t too phased – I’m a good swimmer but I back up my run even more, and I knew my race was going to be won on the bike,” he said. “So, I made sure to go full-throttle and try to create a gap. I came out of the water in third, and there’s a 1km run in transition to the bikes, so Chase, Nick and I pushed that pretty hard. And after that, knowing Chase was behind me, I just went to work.”

For McQueen, a rising star on the pro triathlon circuit and also based in Boulder, his second-place finish sends him to Japan with sufficient momentum to compete for an Olympic berth. Currently ranked fifth in the world, he’s vying for an auto-qualification spot in Japan or a discretionary selection, based on his overall performance the past two years.

“I just wanted to get a decent sense for where my fitness is at and I feel good,” he said. “I actually fly to Europe on Wednesday to try to recover from this, and I’ll race next weekend in France – then a week later in Japan. It’s probably going to come down to a discretionary pick, so we’ll see. I think I’m in the mix.”

As for St. Anthony’s, in spite of chasing the win, McQueen had a blast. Though his girlfriend and fellow elite triathlete Gina Sereno couldn’t be in St. Petersburg, her Sarasota-resident parents competed and passed McQueen on the course. 

“I was coming back from biking and they were going out and we waved – that was a cool moment,” he said. “I really like how the community gets behind this event and has so many spectators. You’re 20K into the bike ride and there are people on the roadside cheering you on. Normally when we’re racing, it’s high tension and high pressure, and nobody is really socializing, but this was so much fun. I’ll definitely be back.”

Two men dressed in athletic clothing shake hands after a race.
Chase McQueen, who is hoping to make the USA Triathlon team for the Summer Olympics, congratulates Marc Dubrick on his win at the St. Anthony’s Triathlon. McQueen finished second.
That sense of fun pervaded the windy, sun-splashed morning, as amateur athletes put themselves to a rigorous test in both the Olympic and Sprint distances (a 750m swim, a 20km bike ride and 5km run for the latter). For example, five Special Olympic athletes from Pasco and Polk counties – enjoyed a successful St. Anthony’s debut.

The group – Marlynne Stutzman, 26, Andrew Ahearn, 28, Blake Bird, 34, William Corsi, 41, and Kathy Pilczuk, 51 – eagerly gathered for a TV interview prior to the race at 7 a.m. and soon hit the water, embracing a sport adopted by the Special Olympics in 2018. For all, competing in triathlons has become a passion, while building a deep sense of pride and accomplishment.

The first to finish, Stutzman, who has also completed a full IRONMAN in Hawaii, was thrilled by the outcome. “The water was really choppy and there were a lot of people taking it easy, so I just had to go around them or over them,” she said. “And on the bike, I stayed to my left to pass as many people as I could. It’s a really great race – I’m not used to racing with so many people. That’s new to me, but I still had a really great time.” 

Then there were the six adult St. Petersburg siblings who dub themselves the Waechter Sector – Donny, 41, Joe, 39, Mary, 37, Mike, 35, Tommy, 31 and Meghan, 28. They took up triathlons as a way to stay in shape and bond. They competed at St. Anthony’s for the first time as a unit. After doing their own pre-race TV interview, they notched another family triathlon and basked in the post-race glow.

“We started together and bikes were all set up together in transition, which was really cool,” Mary said. “We started together, but then went our own separate ways.”

“Once we hit that water, we were trying to drown each other – the gloves came off,” Donny quipped, prompting a shared sibling laugh. 

For the record, Mike emerged first among his brothers and sisters, but all that truly mattered was the enjoyment and camaraderie they all experienced.

“This was absolutely amazing,” Joe said. “We talk a lot about how close our family is and the electricity we all feel together. We’ve been exchanging texts and sharing our thoughts leading up to the race. And here we are. Everybody finished. Everybody exceeded expectations. And I think competing at St. Anthony’s has made us even closer as a family.” 

Dates for next year’s 42nd St. Anthony’s Triathlon will be announced soon. Registration for the 2025 event will open later this year.

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