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Plumb's absence opens door for Heart O'Dixie hopefuls

By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
July 20, 2001
The man known in these parts as Mr. Heart O' Dixie won't be around for the 22nd-annual Heart O' Dixie Triathlon Saturday morning, but a pair of three-time champions will be competing.
Mike Plumb, who has won the Heart O' Dixie a record six times including last year, has moved from Mobile, Ala., to Carlsbad, Cal., since the 2000 race and won't be making the long trip back to Mississippi this year.
Carlsbad is located about 20 miles north of San Diego.
Plumb was the top finisher in 1989, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, and 2000. No other athlete, male or female, has won the event more than three times.
The course begins with a half-mile swim at Lake Tiak O'Khata, then turns into a 27 1/2 mile bike ride from Louisville to Philadelphia down Highway 15. The event closes with a seven-mile run to the Neshoba County Fairgrounds with the last half mile being around the racetrack.
The event is sanctioned by USA Triathlon and is designated the state championship. It is the oldest triathlon in the continental U.S., starting in 1980.
With Plumb not returning, that opens the door for three-time champion Joseph Curro who won here in 1994, 1995, and 1999.
Curro devoted last year solely to bike racing, although he was at the finish line for the 2000 Heart O' Dixie as a spectator.
Curro is back with a vengeance this year as he recently won the Sunfish Summer Triathlon at Collinsville by nearly two minutes. He's already qualified for the Hawaiian Ironman in October, competing with Plumb in a half Ironman at Buffalo Springs, Texas, a few weeks ago.
Another three-time champion already signed up is Vic Kelley who won the first three races in 1980, 1981, and 1982.
The defending female champion is Kate Hartley of Memphis. The 1999 female winner, Deanna McDonald, was the female champion at the recent 2001 Sunfish as Deanna Frank. Amy Davis, the 1998 Heart O' Dixie champion from Meridian, is taking this year off from triathlons. M.C. Jermann of Memphis was the 1996 winner.
Triathlons in Minden, La., and near Memphis this weekend could cut into the number of participants although some 226 individuals and 10 two-or-three person teams had already registered by midweek.
The youngest entrant is Holly Corbitt, 11, of Meridian, with the oldest being 80-year old Jimmy Moore of Crystal Springs.
As far as traveling the longest to get here, one competitor is from Salt Lake City, Utah, while another, originally from Fulton, is coming from Bermuda.
One of the most unusual stories in this year's race belongs to Chuck Anderson who had nearly all of his arm bitten off in a shark attack last summer near Gulf Shores while training for another triathlon.
Anderson, the athletic director for Baldwin County (Ala.) Schools, competed in a triathlon at Gulf Shores in late spring this year, Plumb said.
Among the triathletes expected to compete for the Dr. Dickie Nowell Memorial Award which goes to the top Neshoba County finisher are 2000 winner Anthony Steele and multi-time local best finisher John David Williams.
Williams also did the half Ironman in Buffalo Springs with Plumb and Curro.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at mstamper@themeridianstar.com.