A 21-year-old native of New Zealand, Michael Poole, won Saturday’s 31st Montauk triathlon in 1 hour, 47 minutes, and 54 seconds, a record.
Poole was 11th out of the water, in 21:13, though only two seconds separated him from the eventual runner-up, Tom Eickelberg, who was the first to emerge from the brisk and choppy one-mile Lake Montauk swim.
Poole, who, according to his wife, Hayley, a fellow Aucklander, prefers the shorter non-drafting races, blew Eickelberg and everyone else away on the bike, coming into the transition area from the 22-mile leg in 46:42 minutes, a blistering average of 28.26 miles per hour.
His 37:31 time for the hilly 10K run was also the day’s fastest.
A junior chemical engineering major at the University of South Florida, the quiet-spoken Poole came to the race with Bob McKeown’s South Shore Tri Coach group, which is based in Babylon. After crossing the finish line a full five minutes behind Poole, Eickelberg, a pro who works at Mike Monastero’s Babylon Bike Shop, and who is the two-time defending Montauk sprint triathlon champion, said, “I was the fastest loser. He was the better man today, very rock ’n’ roll. . . . He caught me three or four miles out. It was like I was riding a bike and he was riding a motorcycle.”
Eickelberg works with Ryan Siebert, 21, of Patchogue, who won here last year. But Siebert could not defend because of a leg injury. “Frankly, I didn’t think I’d have any competition,” said the somewhat dejected Eickelberg. “I’ll have to prepare for next year.”
Another story that day was the third-place finish of 52-year-old Eben Jones, who has won this race nine times, his last championship coming in 2002. Obviously pleased with his 1:55:11.4 time — he was one of eight competitors to break two hours — the New Canaanite, who is the father of four, said, “I’m in shape this year — I wasn’t last year, though I came because Merle [McDonald-Aaron, the race director] asked me to, to celebrate the 30th anniversary. . . . I’m going to do an Ironman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, soon. It’s a national race, and I intend to beat the guy who beat me in my age group at Hawaii two years ago.”
Though he bemoaned the fact that he had “old legs,” Jones nevertheless did the run in 40:40, at a swift 6:30-per-mile pace.
Asked if his children — two boys, two girls — were athletic, he said with a smile, “They all are, though the most athletic is the least competitive, and the least athletic is the most competitive.”
The women’s winner, in the absence of Laurel Wassner, the defending champion, who won this race outright in 2011, in 1:53:25.3, was Ali Crum, 29, of New York City, in 2:07:24.1. She was 23rd over all.
“I love the course,” said the first-timer, who was the women’s winner in the Olympic-distance triathlon in Montauk last fall.
“It’s her first triathlon win,” said Crum’s husband, Ryan Johnson, who’s also 29. “She’s getting better and better. . . . We train every day together.” While she beat him in last fall’s race here, on Saturday he edged her, finishing 18th, in 2:03:46.8.
Katie Bottini, 26, of Wilton, Conn., was the women’s runner-up — and 29th over all — in 2:11:11.0. The third-place woman was Nadine Moors, 35, of Shirley, who was 31st over all, in 2:13:35.5.
Erin Tintle, 41, of East Hampton, won the women’s 40-to-44-year-old division. She was 127th over all, in 2:32:12.4. David Pitches, 67, of Montauk, was second in the men’s 65-69 division, in 3:02:26.8, and Dan Roberts, 40, of East Hampton, was third among the 40-44-year-old men in 2:10:45.6.
Among the other locals who competed that day were Doug Milano, an East Hampton Middle School teacher, who was eighth in the men’s 25-29 division in 2:15:41.3; David Sherwood, 44, of Sag Harbor, whose time was 2:40:41.4; Kevin Fee, 45, of Montauk, whose time was 2:42:41.7; Tim Treadwell, 47, of Amagansett, whose time was 2:44:35.2, and Brian Pfund, 20, of Montauk, whose time was 2:57:40.7.
McDonald-Aaron said, “Everything was fine . . . there were no bad accidents. They [the Ocean Rescue Squad] pulled one swimmer out of the water, but he wasn’t transported to the hospital — he was fine. . . . With all the rain the day before, I was so stressed out and getting a lot of calls with crazy questions, but the weather cooperated nicely on race day.”
The beneficiaries of the triathlon, which is named for its founder, the late Robert Aaron, are the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, the Montauk Senior Citizen Nutrition Center, the East Hampton Town Police Benevolent Association, the Montauk ambulance squad, Phoenix House, and the St. Therese of Lisieux youth ministry.