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Thousands Compete In Storm-Altered Philadelphia Escape Triathlon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Some of them have competed in the Rio Olympics. Others just train for fun. But no matter the reason, thousands flocked to the Fairmount Park area for a much-anticipated triathlon in Philadelphia this weekend.

For 13 years, thousands of professional and amateur athletes have tackled the Philadelphia Escape Triathlon.

“This is my job, so every day I bike and run,” said Alicia Kaye, who won this year’s women’s race. “It’s my entire life, it’s my entire focus.”

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But this year, those participating never had to step foot into the water.

“There was a little bit of a mishap with the swim not happening this morning,” Kaye said, “but it was for sure the safest call.”

Severe weather leading up to the event forced organizers to cancel the swim portion, as recent heavy rains caused debris and fast-moving waters.

Instead, the 50-kilometer race started and ended with a run with a bike ride in between.

“The cancellation of the swim didn’t affect me, it was cancelled before and I realize we are all in the same boat,” said Kaye. “This was a really strong field of women that really challenged me and pushed me. I am thrilled to take the win today.”

On the line: a $20,000 prize purse. And the top finisher in each age group gets a free entry into next year’s Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon in San Francisco.

But Sunday morning’s focus: Martin Luther King Drive and the surrounding Fairmount Park area.

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Penn State grad and Philly-area native Jason West placed first in the men’s pro category, completing more than 31 miles in just over 1 hour and 29 minutes.

“It was such a great feeling to race and win my first big win as a pro here in my hometown with my family here,” said West. “It felt amazing to hear everyone cheering all along the course. I was disappointed the swim was cancelled because I have really been working hard on my swim, but I ended up having the best bike leg ever in my life.”

At one point, West lagged behind two competitors, and his win is symbolic: never give up.

“I’ve been fighting and fighting and fighting. It’s been really hard, to be honest. “It’s the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life, which makes it the most rewarding thing I think I’ve ever done,” he said. “It’s always been a special race for me,” said West. “I knew I could do it. I just had to chip away little by little. You just have to stick to your plan and go for it.”

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