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  • Patti Sponsler

Stokes are Stoked!

New Wave Racing Team members Tom and Deb Stokes pose pre-race near the swim finish of the Cool Sommer Mornings triathlon race series on June 9. The Melbourne couple takes nothing for granted since Tom received the gift of a new liver in 2017. Photo: Tom Stokes.

Trying to find Deb and Tom Stokes on any given weekend is like playing ‘Where’s Waldo’. The cool and kind Melbourne couple travel all over the US and sometimes abroad to compete in road races and triathlons of varying distances.


On June 9, the New Wave racing team members happened to hit up the first race of the Cool Sommer Mornings race series at Waterfront Park in Clermont. From June through September the venue offers once-a-month  sprint and international distance triathlons as well as a duathlon and 5K.


The Series, especially the upcoming July14 event, holds a special place in Stokes hearts.


“(It) coincides closely with my transplant anniversary,” said Tom Stokes, who in 2017 needed a new liver after his cancer returned. “Seven years ago, I raced it (on July 17) and late that same night I got called to come to the hospital for Monday surgery. I try to do the race every year if we’re in town. It gets me in the feels every time.”


There was no call needed Sunday night after Tom and Deb both took the top spots in their respective age groups.

Tom Stokes smiles on top of the podium after putting eight minutes on the rest of his competitors in the 75-79 age group at race number one of the Cool Sommer Mornings four-race sprint/International triathlon series.

“I had a strong race and finished first out of five (75-79 age group) in 1:16:18,” said Tom, a retired RN. “I came out of the water first, held it on the bike and ran strong to finish eight minutes ahead of second place.”


His wife, Deb, a semi-retired Nurse Anesthetist, took the top spot in the 65-69 age group as she inked a 1:20:02 victory, 42 seconds ahead of second place.


“In spite of coming out of the water in fourth place, she reeled the ladies in, finishing them off with a strong run and quick sprint finish,” said her proud husband.


New Wave racing team member, Deb Stokes, finishes the sprint triathlon on June 9 . She won the 65-69 division by 42 seconds after having to come back from a fourth place swim finish. Photo: Tom Stokes.

Fellow New Wave racing team member, tri coach and Kona finisher Rebekah Ash, 27, threw down a memorable international distance race after picking herself up from a fall on the bike.


“She took a fall about a mile into the big leg,” said Tom Stokes. "Uninjured, she got back up and finished in 1:47:44 for third overall female."

After getting back up from a spill off her bike, fellow New Wave racing team member Rebekah Ash managed to finish third overall in the International distance.


With Tom’s cancer and transplant in the rear-view mirror, the Stokes make the most out of every moment together.


“We know we have a good thing going and try not to take anything for granted,” said Tom Stokes.

HUGE congrats to all the 321 peeps who competed in event #1 of Cool Sommer Mornings series including:  


Sprint tri (.25-mile swim, 8.2-mile bike, 5K (3.1-miles) run:

Tiffany Boucher, 30, Cocoa, 1st 30-34, 1:11:42; Douglas Boyer, 36, Cocoa, 1:32:48; Deb Stokes, 68, Melbourne, 1st 65-69, 1:20:02; Tom Stokes, 75, Melbourne, 1st 75-791:16:6:18; Jamie Szafran, 39, Titusville, 1st Athena, 39 and under, 1:25:07.

International tri (.5-mile swim, 16.4-mile bike, 10K (6.2-mile run):

Rebekah Ash, 27, Melbourne, 3rd OA Female, 1:47:44, Preston Edelstein, 71, Melbourne, 2nd 70-74, 3:34:52; Alex Krynski, 23, Viera, 3rd 20-24, 1:43:40.

5K run:

Heather Lewis, 54, Rockledge, 38:35.


The second Cool Sommer Mornings events will take place on July, 14 at Clermont Waterfront Park. Deets here!



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