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St. Anthony's Triathlon: Security up at big Bay area athletic event this weekend

7:37 AM, Apr 26, 2013   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- Athletes will be swimming, biking, and running through St. Pete this weekend for the St. Anthony's Triathlon.

There's been a lot of focus on big events like this one following the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Event organizers are intent on giving the more than 3,500 athletes from 44 states and 23 countries a fantastic experience as they challenge themselves on the streets of St. Petersburg.

But with so many people spread over a 32-mile race course, managing the security of the people competing and cheering them on is a daunting undertaking.

Race Co-Director Philip LaHaye talked with us live on the Morning Show on 10 News about how his staff is handling security and what's changed in the weeks after the terrorism in Boston.

Increased presence from law enforcement and private security workers -- both visible and behind the scenes -- has been LaHaye's biggest strategy shift since the Boston attacks.

"Here specifically, obviously after the Boston incident, we certainly sat down with the chief of police," LaHaye said.

"[We] discussed what security measures we can put in place between their resources and ours to just have an overall increased security presence -- to kind of reassure people and say, 'Hey we're still out here.'"

Competitors are being given clear plastic bags at registration and are encouraged to carry their supplies in those instead of backpacks to streamline the process of screening everyone as they prepare for the race.

The St. Anthony's Triathlon is in its 30th year, and organizers estimate it generates a $5 million economic impact on the Tampa Bay area. The event benefits St. Anthony's Hospital, which has served St. Petersburg for more than 80 years.

Race weekend starts Friday, April 26 and runs through Sunday, April 28. Straub Park will be filled with a free sports and fitness expo Friday from noon to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 pm.

Saturday will center on the Meek & Mighty Triathlon, which is a shorter-distance race for kids ages 7-14 and novice adults.

Then Sunday is the main event. It starts at 6:50 a.m. and will lead to intermittent road closures along the course at various times from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

For a look at the course maps and more, visit the St. Anthony's Triathlon website.

Grayson Kamm, 10 News

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