St. Anthony’s Triathlon Course Opens Window to the City
One of the great perks of competing in or watching the St. Anthony’s Triathlon is the special view, filled with eye-catching local landmarks along the routes. While sight-seeing is the last thing competitors have on their minds, the variety of iconic St. Petersburg structures and locations adds to the visual appeal for spectators lining the course – and simultaneously serves as a window onto the history of the city.
“We think the St. Anthony’s Triathlon offers among the most scenic and beautiful routes of any triathlon,” says Patrick McGee, Triathlon manager and race director. “The sheer variety of sights and landmarks is one of the many things that makes the St. Anthony’s Triathlon stand out – a world-class event taking place in a world-class setting.”
The St. Anthony’s Triathlon, marking its 40th year, will be April 28-30 at Vinoy Park. There’s still time to register and volunteer at https://runsignup.com/Race/FL/SaintPetersburg/StAnthonys
Here’s a little tour of some of the key structures and imagery that accompanies competitors along the Olympic bike course, for starters, followed by the waterfront neighborhood charm of the running route. Watching swimmers plow through the waves of Tampa Bay to start the early-morning action is always exciting, but the noteworthy sights truly begin to unfold on land.
Pedaling away from Vinoy Park – a stunning locale in itself along the shoreline of shimmering Tampa Bay – cyclists pass the historic Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Golf Club, first opened in 1925 as the Vinoy Park Hotel.
In seconds, they can look to the left and see the new St. Pete Pier, which opened July 6, 2020, jutting into the bay. The Pier approach is set off by the picturesque St. Petersburg Municipal Marina, dotted with countless moored yachts.
Two prominent museums are also visible at this point in the race – the back of the Museum of Fine Arts, with its exhibits spanning thousands of years, and the St. Petersburg Museum of History, founded in 1920, documenting the city’s past. Highlights include a standing “Little Cooperstown” exhibit on the history of baseball, certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest collection of its kind.
Just past the Pier, Demens Landing Park – a placid gathering spot built by Peter Demens in 1889 – comes into view on the bay side. And straight ahead is the former home of spring training, converted into a permanent base for the Tampa Bay Rowdies – Al Lang Stadium, a 7,500-seat waterfront facility built in 1947.
When the St. Anthony’s Triathlon made its downtown debut, the stadium was still being used during the spring by the St. Louis Cardinals and its Florida State League Class A affiliate. For the record, the last spring training game was played there in 2008, and the Rowdies began playing there three years later.
Nestled in the same general vicinity is another hallmark sight – the ultra-modern Salvador Dali Museum, with its surrealism-style blend of curved, blue glass panels and concrete frame. The museum is home to more Dali masterpieces than any other museum in the world. Riders also will see Tropicana Field, home to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Doubling back on First Street S, cyclists head up First Avenue S moving west – quickly passing the Florida Holocaust Museum, at its current location since 1998. The museum features three floors of exhibits, dedicated to spreading awareness and educating the public on the history of the Holocaust. From there, the views blend into St. Petersburg’s everyday cityscape – passing eventually beneath Interstate-275, turning around at 28th Street S, and veering to the south on Fourth Street.
In short order, a stunning glass structure rises on the right – Lynn Pippinger Hall, which since 2017 has housed the University of South Florida’s Kate Tiedemann School of Business. The scenery begins to change after Fourth Street S curves into Sixth Street S and the bike route follows 45th Avenue S and Country Club Way S to the wooded Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, with its three miles of trails, natural habitats and tropical landscapes.
Traveling south on Dr. M.L. King (Ninth) Street, the next aesthetic destination is the southernmost tip of the county, Pinellas Point – home of the legendary Pink Streets, the distinctively pink neighborhood roads dating back to the 1920s. In the distance, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge crosses the bay and connects with Manatee County.
Riders begin their return to Vinoy Park along 39th Avenue S, soon passing Coquina Key on the right. The route takes them by the eclectic Chattaway Restaurant, which was established in 1951, before dipping east to Third Street S – experiencing the sudden drop of famed “Thrill Hill” in St. Petersburg’s Old Southeast neighborhood. The exhilarating bump was created – as a bridge over Salt Creek – at the turn of the 20th century with the introduction of a trolley line.
Minutes later, cyclists pass by Albert Whitted Airport, a busy downtown aviation hub for small aircraft, which opened in 1928. It’s named after U.S. Naval lieutenant and St. Petersburg native James Albert Whitted, a World War I veteran tragically killed in 1923 when his plane crashed in Pensacola.
That final leg of the St. Anthony’s Triathlon isn’t filled with the same kind of historic sights, but there are plenty of familiar ones.
The course follows North Shore Drive to Beach Drive and Coffee Pot Boulevard, and over the local fixture of Northeast St. Petersburg – the Snell Isle Bridge. From there, it follows Snell Isle Boulevard to a length of scenic Brightwaters Boulevard, before doubling back to the finish line – and the end of a world-renowned race and its many local landmarks.
For more information about the 2023 races, athletes, St. Anthony’s Triathlon Health & Fitness Expo and surrounding activities, visit SATriathlon.com or the St. Anthony’s Triathlon’s Facebook page: Facebook.com/StAnthonysTriathlon. We invite you to be a part of the conversation using the hashtag, #StAnthonysTri.