By Gabriela Carroll
For East Hampton High School track athlete Liam Fowkes, the i-tri Turbo Tri was the first triathlon he’d ever competed in. Despite his inexperience as a triathlete, he ended up placing first in the triathlon’s youth division.
i-Tri Turbo Tri gave all first time triathletes the opportunity to register and compete for free. Kevin Barry, head coach of the East Hampton High School track team, is an Ironman triathlete, and encouraged members of his team to compete in this year’s virtual triathlon.
i-tri runs a program for sixth through eighth grade girls in East Hampton, who had their own separate triathlon event, which inspired the East Hampton track team to compete.
Fowkes, whose mother is the development and events manager at i-tri, and some of his teammates at East Hampton, decided to compete together.
“My Mom wanted me to do it obviously, because she’s involved with i-tri, so I felt like I should do it for her,” Fowkes, a 14-year-old from Amagansett, said. “Coach Barry thought it’d be a good team bonding thing to do. He thought it would be nice to help out i-tri and get us all experience. It was like cross training.”
Though Fowkes had never competed in a triathlon before, he had experience in each individual event. As a member of the East Hampton High School track and cross country teams, he is a competitive runner, but he has significant experience in both biking and swimming as well.
“I do junior lifeguarding, and basically every day in the summer, I’m in the ocean,” Fowkes said. “I’m boogie boarding, body surfing, and stuff like that. For biking, I just bike everywhere. I bike to the beach, I bike to work, I bike home.”
To compete in the virtual triathlon, Fowkes and his teammates from East Hampton met up at Atlantic Avenue Beach in Amagansett to swim, and then biked to the Maidstone Club in East Hampton and back and ran in Amagansett. The triathlon required a 300-yard swim, 7-mile bike ride, and 1.5-mile run.
Fowkes finished with a time of 46:23, just 10 seconds ahead of his teammate, who finished in second place in the youth division. With his time, he also was in the top 10 overall of all adult and child competitors.
“I didn’t really expect to win,” Fowkes said. “I just gave it my all and I wanted to try and do my best and I ended up winning. My friends did pretty well, too. So that was cool.”
Though Fowkes is unsure if he will compete in triathlons in the future, he said the experience was an extremely rewarding challenge. He said in the future that he would want to compete in an in-person event, to push himself even harder.
“It was the same with biking, running and swimming, but it being virtual, it was smaller,” Fowkes said. “If it was bigger, it probably would have been even better. I probably would have pushed myself harder because when people are in front of me, I want to catch them.”