08/03/14 1:36pm
08/03/2014 1:36 PM
Tim Steiskal of Brookhaven hamlet has now won all three Riverhead Rocks triathlons. (Credit: Bill Landon)

Tim Steiskal of Brookhaven hamlet has now won all three Riverhead Rocks triathlons. (Credit: Bill Landon)

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…)

07/14/13 9:51am
07/14/2013 9:51 AM
DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Shawn Fitzgerald of Cutchogue took the lead with about a half-mile to go and held it to the finish line for his first triathlon victory.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Shawn Fitzgerald of Cutchogue took the lead with about a half-mile to go and held it to the finish line for his first triathlon victory.

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).

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Jenn Place of New York City won the women's race for the fourth time in six years.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Jenn Place of New York City won the women’s race for the fourth time in six years.

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.”

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DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Sean Hardick of East Northport showed his stroke during the 500-meter swim in Peconic Bay.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Sean Hardick of East Northport showed his stroke during the 500-meter swim in Peconic Bay.

06/30/13 10:14am
06/30/2013 10:14 AM

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Two-time Riverhead Rocks Triathlon winner Tim Steiskal speaks with the media after his victory in the race Sunday.

Tim Steiskal is making a habit of winning triathlons. Especially in Riverhead.

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Riverhead Rocks triathlon winner Tim Steiskal of Brookhaven as he crosses the finish line.

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Riverhead Rocks triathlon winner Tim Steiskal of Brookhaven as he crosses the finish line.

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.

VIEW RACE RESULTS HERE

“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.

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Meghan Newcomer was the first female finisher in Sunday’s Riverhead Rocks Triathlon.

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.

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