By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller
More than 80 young triathletes, many hailing from the i-tri program that seeks to build self-esteem among adolescent girls, completed the inaugural Hamptons Youth Triathlon at Long Beach in Sag Harbor last Wednesday.
Participants in the event, which included a 300-yard swim, 7-mile bike and 1.5-mile run, included children as young as 12 who just recently learned to swim and bike competing alongside some of the area’s most elite young athletes.
Chasen Dubs, a 14 year-old soon-to-be freshman at East Hampton High School, was the overall winner with a time of 34:23.90. Dubs, a top swimmer with the local YMCA East Hampton Hurricanes swim program who also plans to run track and cross country, pulled away from the pack on the run portion, which was self-contained in the parking lot at Long Beach.
Ben Horton, 16, finished second overall in 40:15.66, while Ryan Bahel, 14, was third in 41:22.34.
Maggie Purcell, 14, another strong presence in the local swim scene, was the top overall female finisher with a time of 41:44.68. Isabella Swanson, 15, was second among females in 42:26.66, while Isabella Tarbet, 12, was third in 43:09.36.
“I think it went really well for our first time out,” said Theresa Roden, who leads the i-tri program and helped organize Saturday’s event. “It’s a venue we wanted to move to for years. The town board really understood what it was all about and we couldn’t be happier.”
Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst spoke before the start and said the town generally gets inundated with requests to use town property for various events or to close down roads.
“Theresa came to talk to me about this quite some time ago,” Throne-Holst said. “Lots of people talk to us at Town Hall and say ‘Can you please let us use your facilities, can you please close down the roads, can you have your cops come out and make sure we can do this.’ And it’s a pretty big deal to do it. This was one the whole town board wanted to do.”
With competitors ranging in age from 10 to 16, organizers said safety was their top priority. The swim was a relatively short distance, with a course set no more than 30 yards off the beach. The run was self-contained in the Long Beach parking lot, while the bike portion was held entirely in bike lanes on a course to the South Ferry and back.
Still, the race was not without incident. Three competitors crashed during the bike portion of the event and two were taken to Southampton Hospital with minor injuries. Roden on Tuesday reported that everyone was doing fine.
“In any event like this, accidents happen,” Roden said. “And we had such great support, the Sag Harbor Ambulance was right there.”
“It’s very important that people in the community see kids on bicycles,” she continued. “We’re growing a generation that’s fearful of kids going out on bikes. In Southampton Town they have these great bike lanes, and East Hampton should take a look at that as well.”
Roden said there were a handful of girls in the i-tri program who could not swim or bike not that long ago, but learned to do both in anticipation of last week’s event. Seeing them complete the race alongside some of the area’s best young athletes, she added, was a proud moment for everyone at i-tri.
“All of our coaches agree this year was our biggest challenge,” Roden said. “We’ve had the most kids we’ve ever had. Twelve of the girls were non-swimmers, and there were five girls who could not ride a bike. These girls overcame so much to get to that finish line. It’s an accomplishment that can never be taken away from them.”