Jennifer Place has always felt at home in Southold.
It’s where she ran her first triathlon, back in 2007. It’s also long been where her parents have lived. And for the first time this year, the new Southold resident can also say it’s her hometown.
So even after winning the Mighty North Fork Triathlon at Cedar Beach four other times since 2007, the 40-year-old felt a little added pressure Sunday. That didn’t stop her from finishing in her usual first place spot among female athletes.
“I’m thrilled,” Place said. “It’s nice to be able to represent the town where you live by winning your hometown race.”
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The New York City transplant finished in 54 minutes, four seconds — about a minute faster than she did a year ago. This is the fourth consecutive time she’s claimed victory in the race. She also won in 2008 and placed second in 2010.
Place has shaved three minutes, 44 seconds off her time since her first triathlon in 2007, when she finished eight among women and 53rd overall. This year she placed 14th overall.
Place broke the tape about three minutes ahead of second place finisher Kelly Pickard, 55, of Oyster Bay. Mara Weinraub of New York placed third.
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A triathlon coach who trains athletes from around the region — she runs a business called Fifth Gear — this was Place’s first race of the season. She’s currently training for the Iron Man 70.3 World Championships in Quebec this September.
“That’s definitely my big race this year,” she said.
But the Mighty North Fork Triathlon, where her parents and other family members cheered her across the finish line, is always a special one for her.
“Having them here gives me that extra motivation,” she said.
The race benefits CAST (Community Action Southold Town) and the Southold Fire Department.
See more photos from the event.