A 500-meter swim, at 25-kilometer bike ride and a five-kilometer run. READ
A 500-meter swim, at 25-kilometer bike ride and a five-kilometer run. READ
For the third year in a row, Tim Steiskal of Brookhaven won the Riverhead Rocks Triathlon Sunday.
At exactly two hours, seven minutes, the 24-year-old dominated the field, winning by more than five minutes over second-place finisher Bradford Strater, 32, of New York City. (more…)
MIGHTY NORTH FORK SPRINT TRIATHLON
The thing about competing in a triathlon is an athlete may not always know when a competitor has his sights set on him.
For example, Ryan Siebert of Patchogue might have felt good about his chances of winning the 15th annual Mighty North Fork Sprint Triathlon on Sunday morning when he passed last year’s winner and the first person to complete the opening swim phase, Rod McClave of New York City, during the eight-mile bike ride. But, lo and behold, with about a half-mile to go in the three-and-a-half-mile run, Siebert himself was passed by Shawn Fitzgerald of Cutchogue, who won the whole thing.
The 39-year-old Fitzgerald, a runner-up last year, clocked a time of 50 minutes 23 seconds at Cedar Beach in Southold. Siebert came in second at 51:01.
“I thought I had it,” said Siebert, who was chasing what would have been his third Mighty North Fork title.
Some may have wondered where in the world Fitzgerald came from. The 28th athlete to complete the 500-meter swim in Peconic Bay, Fitzgerald had a lot of ground to make up. He clocked the sixth-fastest bike time of 18:04, but the running phase is when he made his greatest gain. Running, Fitzgerald said, is his strength, and it showed. He produced the second-fastest run of the morning, 20:55, to run away with his first triathlon victory.
“I can’t swim, but I can run,” said Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald, who sliced nearly a minute off his time from last year’s race, said he was pleasantly surprised with his win. “It validates all the hard work behind the scenes, so it’s a tremendous feeling,” he said.
Siebert has had to deal with some adversity recently. In addition to tending to ankle and knee injuries, he said he was clipped a couple of weeks ago by a truck while training on a bike.
“I’ve had a rough month,” he said.
Perhaps it threw off his training a little. Then again, don’t discount Fitzgerald’s late kick. “I turned around and didn’t see him,” Siebert said, “and then, all of a sudden, a half-mile to go, he just flew by me.”
Benjamin Pucci of Seaford moved into third place in 51:38, ahead of Mike Merlo of Miller Place (52:06).
Jenn Place, 39, of New York City is making a habit of winning the women’s race. She triumphed for the second year in a row and the fourth time in six years, turning in a time of 55:13.
“This is such a short race, you just have to go hard from the beginning,” Place said. “You can’t pace yourself here. There’s no time for that.”
Pushing her the whole way was the second-place woman, Patti Thorp of Boston (56:08).
“Patti, she’s a tough competitor,” Place said. “I admire her very much. I knew she was right behind me and I know how strong she is.”
Kelly Pickard of Oyster Bay (1:00:02) was third and fourth went to Vicki Edwards of Mattituck (1:01:11).
Place had a couple of motivating factors. For one thing, she coaches triathletes herself.
“How can I tell them how to win if I’m not doing well?” she asked.
Another big motivator, though, was the fear that this might be the last Mighty North Fork Sprint Triathlon. Concern had been expressed over the Town of Southold permitting next year’s event from happening because of a town law prohibiting races by for-profit organizations.
“Knowing that this could possibly be the last time I get to do this race, I just felt like I really have to win,” said Place.
Corey Roberts, the athlete experience guide for EventPower Long Island, the organizer of the race, said, “There’s not a concern that it’s going to be the last year, but there’s definitely some work to be done on our permitting for next year.” He added, “I think the town’s going to see what kind of an event company we are.”
Roberts said the event is a boost to the local economy. He also said that a food drive by the athletes, as well as donations by Fairway Market, have brought over a pallet of food that will be provided to Community Action Southold Town. “It shows that the athletes have a genuine passion for the town and the event,” said Roberts.
According to Roberts, just under 600 athletes entered the race. Three hundred and ninety-four individual competitors completed it.
What was his assessment of this year’s event?
“Phenomenal,” he said. “Every year is a phenomenal year. We have a beautiful place to hold the event. I mean, it’s stunning.”
Tim Steiskal is making a habit of winning triathlons. Especially in Riverhead.
Steiskal, a 23-year-old Connecticut-native now living in Brookhaven, was the first athlete to cross the finish line Sunday morning at the Apple Honda Riverhead Rocks Triathlon. It was the second straight year he’s won the downtown event. He finished in 2:07.36, a full two minutes before second place finisher Stefan Judex of Port Jefferson, according to the official race results.
“It feels great,” Steiskal said afterward, a smile across his face on the overcast day. “I’ve been having a rough year. A lot of the races I’ve entered have been on really hot days. These were perfect conditions for me.”
Steiskal said having moved to Suffolk County in the past year — he’s now working as project director at the Patchogue YMCA — has made the Riverhead race even more special to him.
“A lot of the people I train came here to support me,” he said. “I work with a lot of young kids and it’s great that they came out today. That’s what it’s all about, to inspire the future generation.”
Steiskal said he’s not quite sure how many triathlons he’s won, but that he’s claimed more than a dozen in his young career, which has seen him compete in about 60 triathlons. His goal is to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Brazil.
“[Qualifying for the Olympics is especially] tough because they only take two [Americans],” he said. “I ultimately just want to be competing on that level.”
A more immediate goal for him is to run professionally by next year, a move that would allow him to compete in more races at no cost to himself.
Riverhead Rocks female winner Meghan Newcomer, 32, who placed sixth overall, knows a thing or two about turning pro. The New York City resident began competing professionally more than a year ago and she ran, biked and swam in Riverhead for the first time Sunday, finishing in 2:13.39.
“They did a great job with this,” Newcomer said. “It’s a good community race.”
Newcomer, a Kansas City native who moved to New York to attend grad school at Columbia University and now works as a research coordinator at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, has been competing in triathlons since 1999. A swimmer in high school, she took to the sport while cross training to rehab an injury.
Not only did she finish ahead of all the other females, three minutes ahead of second place female Danielle Sullivan of West Islip, but she even hung with the best of the male competitors Sunday.
“It’s always fun to win,” she said. “I like to chase the boys. It’s always good to have someone to chase.”
Her long-term goal is to compete in a triathlon in all 50 states.
“I believe I have 12 more to go,” she said.
The top North Fork finisher was Ken Robins, 51, of Cutchogue, who crossed the finish line in 2:18.42, good enough for 13th overall and the top time of anyone over 50 years of age.
Not far behind him was David Gatz, who was the top Riverhead finisher for the second year in a row, coming in at 2:19.06
This year’s oldest competitor to finish was Ron Helin, 74, of Middle Island, who clocked 3:14.24. The youngest was 16-year-old Alex Pekoff of Bellmore, who finished at 2:53.59.
DEEP POND TRIATHLON
What’s a little rain?
Well, it rained more than a little, even pouring at times during the first Deep Pond Triathlon on Saturday morning. But veteran triathletes like Tom Eickelberg, who have competed in conditions like that before, seemed to take it all in stride. Aside from adding some time to the run, Eickelberg said, the rain doesn’t make too much of a difference.
“It’s all part of it, and you just go,” he said. “It’s the same for everyone. You go home and all your stuff is wet as opposed to just the stuff you raced in, so it’s pretty annoying. You have a little more laundry to do and you have to take a little care of the bike.”
Before Eickelberg got to the laundry, though, he took care of business. Anyone looking for a pre-race favorite to win the Deep Pond Triathlon could have looked to Eickelberg, who said he hasn’t lost a race on Long Island in a few years.
Eickelberg maintained that fine record on Saturday. The 23-year-old Babylon man dealt with the rain and handily secured first place in a little over an hour in the Deep Pond Triathlon, which started and ended at the Schiff Boy Scout Camp in Wading River.
No one could say the result was a surprise.
“Tom Eickelberg is one of the best triathletes, I think, on Long Island,” the race director, Justin Schwartz, said. “He wins everything.”
Even the runner-up, Peter Ventura of Glen Cove, who finished more than four minutes behind Eickelberg, acknowledged that it would have taken a lot for him to upset Eickelberg. “I wasn’t expecting to catch him,” said Ventura, who figured he would have needed to turn in his best race, coupled with a relatively mediocre effort by Eickelberg, for the result to turn out in his favor.
It didn’t happen.
“Right now I’m undefeated in this race, which is cool,” joked Eickelberg, who will top his weekend off with a 10-kilometer race tomorrow in Babylon.
The rain didn’t have an impact on the opening 750-meter swim in Deep Pond, but it did present the possibility of treacherous conditions, with a 13-mile bike ride on slick pavement (including the old Northrop Grumman Airport runway) and then a scenic 3.1-mile run in woods around the pond, with muddy trails and puddles to navigate.
Ventura said he slipped and fell once during the run. No serious injuries were reported, said Schwartz.
Eickelberg said he took the lead on his fifth or sixth stroke of the swim. He never relinquished it. Both he and Ventura were the first ones to emerge from the water, heading to the transition area to get their bikes. The biking phase was where Eickelberg padded his lead.
“I just knew that I was going to bike as hard as I could and make sure that I have a nice cushion for the run,” he said.
Eickelberg ended up with a time of 1 hour 22.72 seconds. Ventura came in at 1:04:32.78. Andy Powell of Marcellus, N.Y., wasn’t too far behind Ventura, taking third in 1:04:50.37.
Two New York City athletes, Bucky Schafer (1:05:33.76) and Timothy Walton (1:06:16.09), claimed fourth and fifth, respectively. They were followed by Jose Lopez of Mineola (1:07:58.20), Robert Spina of North Massapequa (1:08:48.82), Nicholas Chester of Hauppauge (1:09:05.40), Michael Merlo of Rocky Point (1:09:32.75) and Samuel Holt of Brooklyn (1:09:41.62).
The triathlon started with four waves of athletes hitting the water for the swim. Patti Thorp of Boston was six minutes behind a wave of women who had started ahead of her. She passed them all somewhere along the way, though, and finished as the top female in 1:15:19.02.
About a mile and a half into the run, a volunteer told Thorp that she was the lead woman. “I was pretty shocked,” said Thorp.
Thorp, 54, had read material stating that the running course was hilly, and that concerned her because she is not a hill runner. She said that while she was running, “I kept thinking, ‘Where’s the hill?’ ”
As it turned out, the course suited her just fine.
Like Eickelberg, Thorp also won by a comfortable margin. The next two finishers after her in the women’s race were Tana Giraldo of Port Washington (1:23:51.97) and Jennifer Taggart of Saint James (1:25:50.03).
The fourth-, fifth- and sixth-placed women — Hallie Fitzsimons of Brightwaters, N.Y. (1:26:07.60), Kathryn Grassel of New York City (1:26:13.22) and Barbara Bencivenga of Nesconset (1:26:17.02) — finished within 10 seconds of one another. Stephanie Bree of Manorville (1:26:59.06) was seventh, Erin Devitt of Baltimore (1:27:07.41) was eighth, Stephanie Keilty of New York City (1:27:51.17) was ninth and Emily Suhey of Boalsburg, Penn. (1:27:59.65) was 10th.
Among local athletes, Lisa Kelly of Shoreham was 16th in the women’s race, and Michael Qualley of Shoreham was 26th in the men’s race.
Thorp took up triathlon 25 years ago. “The sport has grown a phenomenal amount,” she said.
Her triathlon career was put on hold for four years because of a variety of injuries. She returned to competition last year. Saturday’s triumph marked her second victory of the season. She also won a triathlon earlier this season in Islip.
“For me the accomplishment is now getting to the start line because that means I’m healthy enough to actually race,” said Thorp.
Schwartz, the race director, said 335 athletes registered for the triathlon. The results listed 219 athletes completing the event, which Schwartz expects to return in 2013.
“It couldn’t have gone better,” he said. “I think for a first-year event, considering the weather that we had, I think it turned out really well. The feedback that we’ve gotten from all the participants is very positive. They loved it.”
Not even the rain could put a damper on that.
If you walked along Main Street in Riverhead Sunday morning you might have noticed a large contingency in yellow t-shirts with the words “Tim: This is War” on the back.
Well, if it was in fact a war, Tim won it.
Finishing in two hours, six minutes and 17 seconds, 22-year-old Tim Steiskal of Naugatuck, Conn. was the first winner of the Riverhead Rocks triathlon Sunday.
“It feels great,” Steiskal said. “Especially with the Olympics going on right now. That made this even more fun.”
Relatively young for a triathlete, Steiskal ran his first triathlon at the age of 14. To date, he’s run in 54 triathlons and he’s currently aiming to run in 12 to 15 events each year.
His long-term plan?
“I want to run in the Olympics in 2016 [in Brazil],” he said. And if he doesn’t make that one, he’d still be in his prime come 2020 — the prime years for a triathlete are between 28 and 38 years old.
On Sunday, the race wasn’t even close. Remarked one triathlete who finished in the top 5 to Steiskal, “I never even saw you out there.”
This is Steiskal’s third triathlon win of 2012 and he’s reached the podium in six of seven races this year. He says he doesn’t know exactly how many events he’s won in his career. “I think it’s in the teens now,” he said.
He plans to continue on and run the National Championships in Burlington, Vt. and the U.S. Open in Dallas, Texas later this year.
The “War” t-shirts were made by his girlfriend and her family and worn by a large group of friends and family that traveled across the Long Island Sound to see Steiskal claim victory Sunday. Naugatuck is northwest of New Haven.
“War” was the motto his coach used when Tim swam and ran cross country in high school before becoming captain of the swim team at Southern Connecticut.
Before every race Steiskal yells “This is war.”
“I compete for the thrill of it,” he said. “The inspiration that comes with being out there. A lot of people my age are partying and drinking lots of beer all the time. I’ll have some beers, but I’m also out there training.”
Steiskal said he trains up to 30 hours a week by biking, running and swimming.
On Sunday it all paid off.
Kristie Timmer, 32, of Merrick was the top female finisher, coming in at just over 2:20.
Read more on the race in Thursday’s issue of the Riverhead News-Review. You can also visit the event site for more information.
Riverhead will be the site of an Olympic-distance triathlon Sunday morning, the first of its kind for the town as part of Riverhead Appreciation Day, which begins Saturday.
Riverhead Project owner Dennis McDermott, the race’s organizer and a triathlete himself, said Wednesday the Business Improvement District approached him late last year to ask for help to get the event, which is being sponsored by Apple Honda, off the ground.
“They said they’d tried to organize one that didn’t end up coming to fruition and wondered if I’d like to help resurrect it, which I did,” Mr. McDermott said, adding that the race’s most distinctive feature is it’s Main Street finish.
“The finish line is in front of the Suffolk Theater, which is interesting because most triathlons take place on a beach,” he said. “The swim is in the river, the transition where racers change out of their wet suits and get on their bikes is in the parking lot. Racers then go on a 22-mile bike ride and finish with a six-mile run that ends in front of the Suffolk Theater.”
Mr. McDermott said he was very excited about Sunday, but made special plans when it came to his only concern about the event.
“On the other side of the finish line there are a lot of vacant stores, so I arranged to have pop-up stores put in for that day, so people can see how that part of Main Street looks flush with open businesses,” he said, “The wine council, the North Fork Animal Welfare League and Vines and Branches will all take one, as will Bridgehampton National Bank, who donated money to help coordinate the effort.”
The race begins at 6:40 a.m. and online registration is currently sold out. There is a mandatory packet pick-up for the race between noon and 5 p.m. on Saturday. More information for this event can be found at eventpowerli.com.
Saturday’s Riverhead Appreciation Day will also feature food, face-painting, pie-eating contest and more between 1 and 5 p.m. The Rock the River Concert will take place between 6 and 10 p.m.
MIGHTY NORTH FORK TRIATHLON
It was not even 6:30 a.m. yet, and one could already feel the heat and humidity of the day rising with the sun.
Not that triathlete Rod McClave was complaining. For one thing, McClave grew up in New Orleans, “so this to me is almost winter weather.”
It was only a week and a half ago when McClave raced in New Orleans in weather conditions that were just a tad more demanding than what he encountered in Southold on Sunday morning for the Mighty North Fork Triathlon. “It was a hundred degrees and 95 percent humidity at like 7 o’clock in the morning, so this was lovely,” he said.
That day in New Orleans, McClave suffered heat stroke and dehydration. Then, just six days later, while competing in a swimming race in Oregon, he had hypothermia with an 88-degree body temperature. Heat stroke, dehydration and hypothermia, all within a span of six days. “I was a mess,” he said.
Such is the life of a triathlete.
Of the three phases of the Mighty North Fork Triathlon, the opening 500-meter swim in Peconic Bay would seem to have the least impact, with an eight-mile bike ride and a three-and-a-half-mile run following it. Not for McClave, though.
McClave, an expert swimmer, would have preferred a longer swim on Sunday morning, but he sure made the time he spent in the water count. One might even be tempted to say that McClave won the 14th annual triathlon before he even emerged from the water.
The 38-year-old New York City man built up a sizable lead in the swim, which took him 6 minutes 14 seconds — 1:29 faster than the next athlete to hit the beach, Caryn Stellmach of Waterbury, Conn. From the time he picked up his bike for the second stage of the race, McClave didn’t see any competitors behind him the rest of the way as he triumphed in a time of 49:30. He completed the course 1:50 before the runner-up, Shawn Fitzgerald of Cutchogue.
“This was good for me psychologically because I was feeling pretty down,” said McClave, referring to his recent travails in New Orleans and Oregon. “It’s ups and downs.”
McClave hasn’t allowed asthma to prevent him from competing in his 11th year in triathlon. He had been a swimmer for 17 years, so it’s no surprise what his strength is in the triathlon.
Just the day before, McClave had won a five-kilometer swimming race in Amagansett. He said his shoulders were tired, but it didn’t show. Thanks to his impressive swim in which he pulled away from the pack on Sunday, he was able to build himself an insurmountable lead.
McClave said he looked back a couple of times to make sure that his position wasn’t threatened. “You never know,” he said.
Still, being the leading cyclist or runner carries a burden of its own. “There’s only two places to go if you’re in first place: stay there or go down,” said McClave.
But McClave had no reason to worry. He posted the fifth-fastest time on the bike (18:08) and the fourth-fastest time in the run (23:10) to stay well ahead of the competition.
Fitzgerald said, “I never saw him.”
It was a good showing for Cutchogue. Another resident of the hamlet, Ken Robins, was fourth in 53:18, behind third-place Jim MacWhinnie of Southampton (52:24).
Then again, New York City didn’t have a bad day, either. Fran Roberts was the second Big Apple resident to place among the top five with a time of 54:31.
Richard Nebiosini of Port Jefferson Station (55:33), John Nicolini of Massapequa Park (56:25), Alexander Pokorny of Rocky Point (57:37), Lance Homan of Medford (57:41) and Walter Sullivan of East Quogue (57:48) rounded out the top 10 in the men’s race.
Meanwhile, Jenn Place of New York City may have earned herself a new nickname: “First.” As in first place.
For the third time in five years, Place, 38, captured the women’s title, clocking a time of 53:11. Her nearest challenger was Natalie Penny of Bayville, who was timed in 54:56.
Place had to deal with a different sort of pressure. After she won in last year’s Mighty North Fork Triathlon, she gave her winner’s medal to her oldest niece, Brianna. At the time, she promised Brianna’s younger sister, Kaitlyn, her medal this year if she won again.
“You can’t let a 3-year-old down,” she said.
This is a home race for Place, whose parents live in Southold, where she spends much of her summer, running the course and training at Orient State Park. “This is my home,” she said.
That is one reason why she chose to defend her North Fork title rather than compete in the New York City Triathlon, which was also held on Sunday.
Place turned in a steady performance. Among all competitors, she was the seventh one to finish the swim in 8:16, the eighth to complete the bike ride in 18:30, and the 10th to finish the run in 24:00.
As was the case with McClave, Place used a strong swim to help her to an early lead and victory.
“I’ve been working really hard on my swim over the winter, and I guess it’s paid off,” she said. “In a race this short, you really want to just get ahead as quickly as possible and then just hold it. That was my strategy for the day.”
Patti Thorp of Boston was third in 55:12. Following her were: Michelle Fountain of Sayville (57:00), Kelly Pickard of Oyster Bay (57:10), Vicki Edwards of Mattituck (58:20), Ivy Croteau of Southold (58:39), Mara Weinraub of New York City (58:47), Stellmach (59:22) and Michelle Homan of Medford (1:01:28).
A loud round of applause greeted Arthur Dodd, 67, of Long Beach, when he became the final athlete to cross the finish line in 1:57:21.
The race director, Reuben Kline, said the event stopped accepting registrations from athletes in January, the earliest it ever has, after some 500 had signed up. Because of logistical reasons, he said, that is the capacity for the triathlon.
“It closes out every year, and it has for a long time,” Kline said. “It’s just a great event.”
No one has to convince McClave of that. A newcomer to the Mighty North Fork Triathlon, McClave said he was introduced to the sport through small races such as this. “This is the kind of racing that I started with and I really appreciate the most,” he said. “It was great. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get into in these smaller races, and this one was terrific.”