Triathlon team Meow Power raises $2,000 for Marco cat shelter

Sue Keller

More than 280 registered for this year’s Marco Triathlon hosted by the Marriott Beach Resort and Spa, including 112 females, 170 males and 19 teams. The Marco Island Fitness Challenge attracted athletes from all over the country to compete on Sunday.

Divisions included male, female, corporate, mixed, family and special responders. Teams consisted of 2-3 persons with a minimum age of 15. Groups were referred to as the Clydesdales and Athenas.

One local team, Meow Power, is making news with the announcement that they raised $2,000 to benefit For the Love of Cats, the Marco-based no-kill cat shelter.

The Meow Power team members are Karina Paape, cyclist, Maria Lamb, runner, and Sammy Miller, swimmer, came in fourth in the “all-woman's team” category. The team was greeted at the finish line with a congratulatory sign made by Karen Dumontier and Meredith Delman.

The Meow Power team, all volunteers at For the Love of Cats, raised the $2,000 through their Meow Power Causevox site to help the organization continue its rescue work of abandoned cats and kittens in the community along with other programs that benefit senior cats and cats of low-income families.

Jan Rich, founder of For the Love of Cats, presented a certificate of appreciation to the team for their outstanding effort with their fundraising campaign.

“This is the first time we have had anyone create their own fundraising site to raise funds for us,” said Rich. “Their social media outreach was tremendous and their enthusiasm made the Meow Power team effort unstoppable! We are so very grateful to Maria, Sammy and Karina for their generous donation of compassion, time and athletic skill to raise much needed funds for our rescued kitties.”

For more information on For the Love of Cats, go to or contact Jan Rich, 682-4503


Craig Carlson, Marco resident and seasoned triathlete, was responsible for bringing the fitness challenge to Marco in 2010.

“This being my 136th triathlon, I have enough experience to say that the Marco Triathlon is one of the premier sprint triathlons in all of the Sprint triathlons I’ve attended over my 28 years of racing,” said Carlson. “The criteria of a great triathlon are the race management, venue, hotel accommodations, the race course, volunteers, sponsors,and the participants. We have the complete package at the Marco Triathlon.”

Linda Gregory is the race director and founder of the Marco Fitness Challenge Triathlon. The contest is now on Marco and Naples.

The lifeguards canceled the quarter-mile swim due to high winds and rip-tide conditions.

“Safety of the athletes is foremost in any event although there are strong swimmers who are disappointed, canceling was a good decision,” said volunteer and runner Maria Lamb, a Meow Power team member.

Marco athletes participating included Brittany Strong, who finished in third place in the 20-24 age group. Charles Lamb took first in 70-74 age group. Carlson finished first place in 75-79 age group and Mary Ann Tittle finished first in the 80-84 group.

Other Marco athletes included Nicole Cholka, Theresa Davidson, Logan Meester, Erin Meester, Karla Meester, Rebecca Anderson, Paul Nunez, Patricia Poling, Susan and Jon Busch, Joel Rohletter, Cory Banister and Corinne Banister.

Ironman competitor Paul Strong, a Realtor on Marco, came to watch his two daughters, Theresa Davidson and Brittney Strong, participate in all three events.

“They are just doing this one for fun,” said their dad.

Format change

The format changed from swimming to running a quarter mile on the beach, the distance of the swim before continuing to the bike area. Team members passed their chips to other team members for the 15-mile course to Key Marco and back. Bikers experienced a range of head and tail winds.

Relay teams after the swim/run portion passed the timing chip to the bikers.

As athletes completed the bike ride portion, they ran to the beach staging area. Dr. Robert Poling handed out cups of water along with other members of his family as runners started the course for the 3.1-mile beach run to the finish line. Residents of Cape Marco also handed out water to runners along the route.

Due to the weather conditions, many athletes fell short of their personal best. The three top finishers clocked less than one hour. Ross Lenehan from Cape Coral came in first with a time of 56.59, Vladimir Casanova from Miami came in second at 58.07 and third place was Oscar Corredor from Fort Myers at 1:00:19.


Online race results at