Fellow triathletes fondly remember Perry Rendina

Oceanside, Calif. (May 22, 2001) — Triathlete Perry Rendina, who died in a bike crash during Ironman California, was remembered by friends and teammates this week as a focused and fun-loving athlete who had a great love for sport and for his family.

Rendina, 45, lived in Shalersville, Ohio, with his wife, Cindy. Their daughter, Danica, is a college student. A two-time Ironman finisher with races at Lake Placid and Florida under his belt, he had hoped to qualify for Ironman Hawaii during Saturdays race, his friends said.

He was killed when, while descending the races steepest hill, he reportedly struck a guardrail while trying to avoid riders who were stopped ahead of him.

Rendinas friends recalled a man who lived by the credo of "Seize the day," or "Carpe diem."

"Perry had a big sticker that went across the windshield of his Jeep that just said, Carpe diem. He honestly believed in that philosophy," said friend and fellow triathlete Erik Cagnina.

Cagnina and Rendina were regular training partners, and Cagnina had a host of memories about Perrys spirit to share:

  • "Him doing the run at IM Florida in 99 with a salt shaker in his hand. He had lost all his salt pills, so he had stopped in at a bar which donated the salt shaker to his cause. He finished the race."

  • We lived about 30 miles from each other. We would meet for long rides by riding our bikes from our own houses and always ended up running into each other on this country road. One picture I cant get out of my mind is us riding at each other on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning and yelling YO!! at each other as we met up for another long ride."

    Rendinas number, 1408, was permanently retired from Ironman North America races during Sundays awards ceremony after an emotional speech by Ironman North America president Graham Fraser. Participants shared a moment of silence and by all accounts there was not a dry eye in the room. Another moment of silence to honor Rendina was observed Tuesday afternoon. His funeral is planned for Saturday in Ohio.

    Rendina was part of Big Bowls, an Internet-based triathlon club that grew out of an Ironman Florida mailing list three years ago. Members live all over the country but, with Rendinas help, forged a unique identity with clothing and stickers proclaiming the teams name and its trademark cry of "YO!"

    "He was always upbeat, optimistic, and had a lot of positive energy that rubbed off on everyone around him," said Big Bowls teammate Mark Sunderland of Boulder, Colo. "He was a great family man and the best friend anyone could ever ask for."

    Sunderland said Rendina believed he had a good shot at qualifying for Kona during Saturdays race.

    "If we can take anything away from this accident, we know that he was smiling the whole race and knowing that he was having his best race ever, right up until the end," he said.

    Teammate Michael Cowart of Jacksonville, Fla., met Rendina before Ironman Florida in 1999. Their wives hit it off right away, he said, with "both having wacky triathlete husbands and being the loving spouses they are." Rendina and a host of Big Bowls members were waiting at the finish line when Cowart crossed it that evening.

    "PR congratulated me and explained that even though the race did not go as expected for me, that what I had done was a major accomplishment and that I should cherish the race" Cowart said. "He was right."

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