First Isles of Capri triathlon a bit off-beat

Ann Hall

The first Isles of Capri Triathlon was like none other.

Instead of the usual competition of running, cycling and swimming, the competitive events consisted of corn toss, ladder golf, and washer toss. It was by invitation only, and registrations were approved by the events originators and coordinators Mike and Marietta Cox, known as the Pago Pirates.

It began with an invitational letter sent to neighbors who live on East Pago Pago Drive on the Isles of Capri. A few select others who were close friends of the neighborhood also received invitations.

The letter read, "The long awaited global triathlon, sponsored by the Pago Pirates, is soon to arrive on the Isles of Capri, Naples, Florida, USA. All events are to be played in accordance with Italian Gaming Association (IGA) Rules and Regulations, and the event is sanctioned. All points earned will apply to your 2015 standings. All applicants are to be two player teams with the names of each player included. No registrations will be accepted on game day. Games will begin on the first Friday of the month at 3 p.m. Please be punctual. The first competition will begin at the home of Mike and Marietta Cox, and all subsequent games will be held at the home of others as announced."

The three games to be played were spelled out in the letter along with a brief scoring description. All of the gaming equipment was hand-made according to IGA regulations by Mike Cox and his team partner Paul Rhoads. Prior to each subsequent event, a letter went out to the players announcing the guidelines for the competition along with weather conditions, and saying that "video transcripts of the events will be flown to Rome, Italy along with a cover letter from "Fairy Mary," the judge.

To make the event more fun and relaxing, contestants were invited to bring their own drinks of choice and a finger food to share with others.

Ten teams registered for the competition. They named themselves. Competing were the Mighty Pythons, A Team, Hoosiers, U Team, Angry Birds, Cats, Still Waters, Tigers, Team Austria and the Sun Shiners. The competition during the games was fierce and friendly with cheers for the contestants so loud they could be heard throughout the neighborhood. The competition for bringing the best finger food to share also became obvious as the food got better and better until it resembled a four-course dinner at the closing ceremonies.

At the conclusion, an awards ceremony was held at the home of Fred and Mary Ann Uphoff, where Johan and Angela Mirlak, Team Austria, was presented with a "key to Capri" as winners of the event. The award was hand-made and of course is symbolic, and not a real key to the community.

As you might have guessed by now, the triathlon was a fantasy that served as a backdrop for a series of neighborhood block parties. It certainly was a different approach as the events became the entertainment and focus, and neighbors began to see one another in a different light. They formed such close friendships during the competition, that none of the 20 participants wanted the triathlon to end, and begged the coordinators for another round.

Participants received this much-welcomed letter from Mike Cox, serving as "Isles of Capri (ICA) Director of USA Operations" for the IOC Triathlon. The letter read:

"Fairy Mary and I just concluded a video conference call with IGA World Wide Director, Deputy Director, Senior Board Members and all department heads here after referred to ROME. It seems as though while the rest of the world plays these games individually, ours was the first Triathlon. It has caught on and ROME now has 18 triathlons scheduled, worldwide, with USA Operations being the trend setter. ROME very much wants us to continue our games and is recommending a Spring Tournament to keep our fledgling USA Operations sharp. Our planning committee is hard at work, and we expect the First Annual Isles of Capri IGA Spring Tournament to be around the end of March or the first of April."

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