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For Team Reilly, St. Anthony’s Triathlon a Family Affair

Mike Reilly and his six sons will compete in this weekend’s St. Anthony’s Triathlon.

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Mike Reilly and his six sons will compete in this weekend’s St. Anthony’s Triathlon.

The finish line at this weekend’s St. Anthony’s Triathlon is about to have a serious case of déjà vu, as the Reilly name will appear seven times. Now 66, Mike Reilly (no, not that Mike Reilly) has participated in the race for 33 years. This weekend’s event will be particularly special, as he will share the course with his six sons, ages 7 to 16.

“I began doing triathlons with my friends in the 70s when they first started,” says Mike, who works as the medical team doctor for the Tampa Rays baseball team. “I used to get multiple physician’s teams together for St. Anthony’s, and I’ve also hosted out-of-town athletes, including Ironman winners, over the years.”

When he got married to Jennifer at age 49, he knew he’d share his passion for athletics with their children. As soon as their oldest son, Chris, entered kindergarten, he began a daily ritual of bike commuting to school. The habit continues to this day, with Mike and his sons pedaling the 3.5 miles to their grade school.

In addition to daily rides, the Reilly boys—Chris, Andrew, Tim, Joseph, John and David—are an active bunch. They play baseball, soccer, tennis, and basketball for school and club teams, along with joining their parents for runs and trips to the pool. Their natural athleticism led Mike to propose a family activity one night at the dinner table: What if the Reilly boys raced St. Anthony’s Triathlon?

“Triathlon is really an offshoot of what kids do anyway—swimming, biking and running. They play in all the team sports,” Dr. Reilly said. “Triathlon gives them more variety. It’s natural for them to do it.”

With excitement, the Reillys began preparing for their first triathlon together. Jennifer, a runner, coordinates the family run workouts, while Mike provides guidance and feedback for the swim and bike. In addition to built-in training partners, the family workouts fuel a competitive drive:

“They aren’t really happy just to participate,” laughs Mike. “They work to come in with the best time in the race.”

This weekend, Mike will compete in the Olympic distance race while his sons will do the Meek and Mighty Kids’ Triathlon. Though Mike and his sons will compete as individuals, make no mistake—the Reilly Family is very much a team.