The Mighty Hamptons Triathlon will celebrate its 30th anniversary when 1,000-plus competitors in the swim-bike-run event plunge into Noyac Bay at Sag Harbor’s Long Beach at 6:40 a.m. Sunday.
John Howard, the 1981 Ironman champion and a renowned ultra cycler who holds the 24-hour drafting record of 539 miles and cycling’s world absolute speed record of 152.2 miles per hour, as well as the American Canoe Association’s world 24-hour record, is expected to be there as a member of a relay team.
Howard was among a group of 10 or so world-class triathletes, including Dave Scott, Scott Tinley, Dave Horning, Julie Moss, Allison Roe, Jody Durst, and Mark MacIntyre who helped Ray Charron and Ambrose Salmini inaugurate this race — one of the country’s oldest triathlons — in 1982.
Durst, the Sri Chimnoy champion, said at the time that it was “the greatest meeting of triathletes barring Hawaii.”
Charron first proposed the idea of holding a triathlon here in a piece he wrote in The Star on Aug. 13, 1981 after he, Salmini, and Michael Kasser — the Eternal Youth Sport and Social Club — had competed at Sri Chimnoy in Rhode Island, a 76.5-mile test.
Initially, Mighty Hamptons’ distances comprised a 1.5- mile point-to-point bay swim, a 25-mile bicycle leg, and a 10-mile run. They were pared down later to a 1.5-kilometer (.93-mile) swim, a 23.8-mile bike, and a 10K run. Scott’s winning time of two hours and 26.09 minutes was described as “incredible” by Charron, who had predicted the winner would do between 2:30 and 2:35. Scott, who had been the 1980 Ironman champion, went on to win that title five more times.
Also expected to compete Sunday will be Jim Bolster, the Columbia University men’s swim team coach, who won here in 1985 and ’86, and Margot Lulla-Aisiks, a six-time winner in the 1990s.
Getting back to Mighty Hamptons’ debut, Tinley and Moss, who had captured the nation’s attention as she collapsed and crawled to Ironman’s finish line in February of 1982, missing first place by seconds, arrived late and both made wrong turns — Moss in the bike, and Tinley in the run.
Tinley nevertheless placed fourth, behind Scott, Durst, and MacIntyre. Horning, a 190-pounder who had just won the Escape From Alcatraz race, was fifth.
Lyn Brooks, who had placed third in the 1981 and ’82 Ironmans, was the women’s winner, finishing 15th over all, one second behind Howard. Roe, the women’s world record holder in the marathon then, who was making her triathletic debut, was the women’s runner-up.
With Manufacturers Hanover Trust as the major sponsor, it was a heady beginning, though not long afterward Charron decided to simplify, and so Mighty Hamptons, whose first field numbered 220, decided to make it “a people’s race.”
And it grew and continued to be popular thereafter, bearing out Howard’s prediction, made at the pre-race pasta dinner, that “participatory sports are the future.”