ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — Weather was the biggest obstacle in this year’s St. Anthony’s Triathlon.

The swimming portion was removed from the event due to rough conditions on the water Sunday morning.

Instead, it was turned into a run-bike-run triathlon.

Though many athletes were disappointed, officials said it was important to keep safety a top priority.

The change didn’t stop thousands of athletes from coming to compete.

“I had a heart attack last fall and St. Anthony’s saved my life,” athlete Lara Warn said.

Warn never thought a fit woman in her 40s would be at risk of having a heart attack, but when she walked into the emergency center at St. Anthony’s Hospital, her tests showed a different story.

“I’m here to kind of take my power back and raise awareness about heart attacks,” Warn said. “They are not one size fits all.”

Thousands of athletes each had a different story.

“Eventually I lost the leg,” Luke Kittel said. “We couldn’t save it.”

Kittel broke his leg in a training accident while serving in the US Army.

“Everything changes,” he said. “You have to adjust lifestyles, activities.”

He was forced to retire when his leg didn’t heal as expected, never thinking his leg would have to be amputated a few years later.

“It’s mentally challenging,” Kittel explained. “Sometimes when your legs don’t fit well, your runs aren’t real well, it’s just a challenge.”

“You mentally prepare,” he continued. “I woke up. I got to come out today. I got to see all of the other athletes and we all get to do it together.”

He competed side-by-side with athletes of all ages, like 84-year-old Tony Handler.

“39 years ago, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and they said you got two years to live,” Handler said.

From that moment on, he made staying active and healthy a priority.

He has since beat six types of cancer.

“When I was in the hospital, I said, ‘I’m gonna get out of this place,'” Handler explained. “I’m gonna get myself healthy and I’m going to beat cancer.”

He competed in his 326th triathlon Sunday morning, marking his 30th St. Anthony’s triathlon.

“Do you attribute that success to you staying active and healthy?”, asked 8 On Your Side reporter Nicole Rogers.

“Absolutely,” Handler replied. “I’m a big believer now in exercise, because that’s what got me started and that’s what I think keeps me rolling.”

You can find the results of this year’s St. Anthony’s Triathlon here.