Minus the Swim, Inaugural Amica 19.7-Mile Triathlon Makes the Point
More than 430 contestants showed up for the event on Sachuest Point Saturday. Local Portsmouth Resident Shawn Connel-Clarkson was the top finisher among women.
Dangerous surf and rip currents forced race organizers to cancel the swim leg of competition on Sachuest Point, but a modified version adding a second foot race to the inaugural Amica 19.7 Newport Triathlon meant the entirely land-based event still went on Saturday.
More than 430 international contestants took part in Saturday's inaugural Amica 19.7 Newport Triathlon Series held primarily on and around Sachuest Point in Middletown, with part of the cycling course in Portsmouth.
While many participants were experienced and professionals, race organizers recognized that a good number were competing at an amateur level and others were new to triathlon competition, so when high winds, rough swells and dangerous rip currents confronted them Saturday morning, race officials decided they did not want to put any contestants in danger and cancelled the swim leg. Instead, the race featured a ¼-mile beach run as a "transition" to the scheduled 16.1-mile bike race and finished off with a 5k run around Sachuest Point and winding country roads around the southeastern Middletown area.
The rest of the race day ran smoothly, with volunteers from the James L. Maher Center and students from Salve Regina helping out with registration, keeping competitors on course and well-hydrated throughout the day.
Luc Morin from Montreal, Canada claimed the top men's finisher spot timed at 59:15, with stateside vacationer Matthias Dunse from Germany following up in 2nd place at 1:00:07.
Since the event start was organized into "waves" of divisions by age categories, 40-year-old Morin actually started later in the third wave to claim the day's top spot. "I came out here to go as hard as I could at my level of fitness," said Morin. "I pushed it really hard on the bike. My legs felt like Jello the whole way, because I had to drive down yesterday, which was a good six-hour drive."
Morin, an East Greenwich native and employee of eperformance, one of the event's co-sponsors, said he was "very impressed" with the race and the course, in spite of the missing aquatic sprint. "I was pretty disappointed but they made the right decision," said Morin. "There are a lot of 'newbies' here today. It's better to be safe than sorry."
Morin is a semi-pro in the triathlon circuit and, last-minute course changes aside due to Mother Nature, Morin lauded the event for its course, organization, and as a good preparation event for Olympic athletes because the shorter sprint triathlon "answers the need for speed" during competitive training.
"It's the first year so obviously I didn't know what I was getting myself into until I got down here, but overall I was very impressed...People are going to start realizing that you do need to do more of the shorter races in your (triathlon) training."
The Amica event also featured local TV reality stars from the "Biggest Loser" Rudy Pauls and Jay Kruger.
Pauls, a Middletown High School Class of 1996 graduate who currently lives in Brooklyn, CT, was extremely excited to take part in the event and come back to his old stomping ground.
"I love this area, I have many friends and family still around. It was great to participate in this event here," said Pauls, who later finished with an unofficial time of 1:28:22.
After the race, Pauls was greeted by Kruger with big high fives at the end of the finish line corral. "Rudy beat me on the bike but I got him on the run," smiled Kruger, a New Bedford, MA resident.
Both TBL contestants received an extra boost from congratulations and TV show fans throughout the course.
"A lot of people recognized me out on the course this morning, which was really nice," said Pauls. "Whenever you have people cheering you on like that, it just pushes you onward to the finish line."
Pauls and Kruger also competed in Amica's 19.7 Boston Triathlon last month, where Pauls experienced knee problems and couldn't finish. On Saturday, there was no such pain.
"My body felt good and I felt really good coming all the way through," said Pauls, who placed as a finalist during Season 8 of the "Biggest Loser."
Saturday's event was Kruger's third triathlon in the 2-½ years since he left the TV show and he continues to run 5Ks and 10Ks whenever possible, especially for charity. "This is what life is all about—to get out and enjoy things and being healthy," said Kruger.
Portsmouth resident Shawn Connell-Clarkson inspired local community pride, finishing first overall for women with a winning time recorded at 1:09:50.
The event was split up into age groups and further divided among male and female competitors.
The 30-34 age range heat was particularly competitive among local Aquidneck Islanders Martin Ortiz, Graham Powers and Matthew Stewart:
1 Martin Ortiz (218) NEWPORT RI 1:04:28
2 Graham Powers (193) MIDDLETOWN RI 1:08:23
3 Matthew Stewart (227) PORTSMOUTH RI 1:08:34
This was Amica's first triathlon in Middletown. The Amica 19.7 sprint triathlon series is featured around the United States. To see the official race times and results, visit the website at Amica Series 2010 Results.
For more information or to register for future Amica races, click here.
Local Aquidneck Island participants who competed Saturday included:
James Bogosian Middletown
Bryan West Middletown
Eric Peterson Middletown
timothy Ely Middletown
Tracy Trubovich Middletown
Alan Bishop Middletown
Sean Grunwell Middletown
Wayne Farnum II Middletown
Graham Powers Middletown
Kelly Powers Middletown
Trevor Powers Middletown
Madeline Turano Middletown
John Sirois Middletown
Mimi Carrellas Middletown
David Leys Middletown
Michael McGourty Middletown
Michael Murphy Newport
Ellie Murphy Newport
Warren Williams Newport
Kevin Clare Newport
James Daley Newport
Elizabeth Spoden Newport
Julie Batcho Newport
Alex Levy Newport
Michelle Farnum Newport
Daniel Farnum Newport
Angela Scheibner Newport
Nancy Serpa Newport
Gordon Kinder Newport
Christopher Beasley Newport
Kathy Lewis Newport
Chris McKenna Newport
Martin Ortiz Newport
Chris Clevenger Newport
Robert Henry Newport
Jonathan Henry Newport
Sean Elward Newport
Joseph Caruso Newport
Joshua Schminky Newport
Don Black Portsmouth
Andre Carrier Portsmouth
Penny Carrier Portsmouth
Cynthia Wynegar Portsmouth
Damien Guenther Portsmouth
Matthew Stewart Portsmouth
Andrea Breyer Portsmouth
Medals were given to all participants and awards were given to the first, second and third place finishers for each gender in the following age groups:
19 and under