Chugs Were the Key

A spirited relay race among 32 teams of rowers, bikers, runners, and chuggers
Caroline Cashin and her fellow endurance athletes celebrated fitness and fun at Saturday’s relay event in Montauk, which raised $13,000 for the Retreat’s children’s programs. Jack Graves

    The Paddlers for Humanity Brew­athalon, a spirited relay race among 32 teams of rowers, bikers, runners, and chuggers, played out in front of scores of spectators at the Montauk Brewing Company Saturday afternoon, beginning and ending with competitive chugs of cans of the brewery’s Summer Ale whose times were added to the teams’ point totals.

    Caroline Cashin, who oversaw the event, pointed out later that “the chugs really did matter, for the differences between the top teams were a matter of seconds.”

    Johnny Ryan, of the runner-up Ocean Rescue Squad, was the chugging champ, with a 5.28-second split. “You could put another hole in the [12-ounce] can, but only in the top, not in the side,” said Cashin. “That’s why we had them invert the can on their heads when they finished.”

    “Scott Bradley,” she added, “had the longest chug — 36 seconds. He had trouble opening a few cans. He needs to practice.”

    The event drew many top endurance athletes, among them Caroline Cashin’s husband, Ed, and Mike Bahel, both of whom recently returned from the Cape Epic in Cape Town, dubbed “The Tour de France of Mountain Biking;” Sinead FitzGibbon, who was to have run in the Boston Marathon Monday; Dan Farnham, one of the East End’s top mountain bikers; Kevin Harrington, and a pair of Brazilian triathletes from Sao Paulo, Gus Alburquerque and Ligia Nerici. The Brazilians, while late to register, finished third as she did the 5,000-meter ergometer machine row and he — unique among the participants that day — did the 10K bike and the 5K run.

    “We also had a great chugger,” Alburquerque said afterward. “A local guy . . . very experienced.”

    Garth Wakeford, a member of the Montauk Rugby team, said he had showed Nerici, who was new to it, how to use the ergometer machines.

    “She said, ‘What’s this?’ said Wakeford. He recently began machine-rowing himself, “though I’ve got a cousin, an Olympian, who does 5,000 meters [three miles] on the machine in 15 minutes.” Connor Miller, who was on Exceed Fitness’s team was the top rower, in 18:15. “Kevin Harrington and I were right behind him, neck-and-neck. He beat me by one second.”

    As for Nerici, “She did great, she finished in 20-something,” said Wakeford.

    The rowing machines were positioned in ranks opposite each other up the street from the brewery. Cashin said 11 had been provided by Exceed Fitness, eight by Crossfit, five by the Sag Harbor Rowing Club, “and the rest by individuals.”

    For the raffle that came afterward, Exceed provided a rowing machine, Paddle Diva a 12-foot-6-inch standup paddleboard, and Jay McInerney, the novelist, who is trained by Ed Cashin, “a case of wine from his cellar.”

    The overall winner was Tom O’Donoghue’s Tir Na n’Og (O’Donoghue chugs, Zeke Stevens row, Dan Roberts bike, and Gambrelle Snyder run), which O’Donoghue, the founder of the very popular Katy’s Courage 5K in Sag Harbor, said meant “Forever Young” in Gaelic.

    The runner-up was Ocean Rescue (Johnny Ryan chugs, Harrington row, Bahel bike, and Julianne Duryea run).

    Exceed East, which had the day’s best rower and biker in Miller and Ed Cashin, nevertheless placed sixth over all — testimony, said Caroline Cashin, to the importance of the chug legs.

    The winning women’s team comprised Peggy Stankevich, Holly Li, Alixandra Sidor, and Rikki Furman.

    In addition to FitzGibbon, two other Brewathalon competitors — Kevin Barry and O’Donoghue — were to have run in Boston on Monday.

    FitzGibbon, who may have been Saturday’s top runner with her time of 19 minutes and 20 seconds, said she had done her first marathon, at Philadelphia last year, in 3:15. As for Boston, she said, “I’m going up to have fun — four of us are driving up together tomorrow.” Two other locals, Fiachra Hallissey and Sarah Stenn, were set to run in Boston also, she said.

    Barry, who helps Luis Morales coach East Hampton High School’s long-distance runners, and who did the bike leg for Shelter Island’s Rock Stars, said he had gone up to Boston Friday to pick up his number (a new requirement), bringing along Erik Engstrom, an East Hampton sophomore who was to win the 3,000-meter steeplechase event in 10:12 at a big invitational meet Saturday morning.

    Barry, who’s married to Ed Cashin’s sister, Cheryl, a widely-traveled health economist, provided support for Ed Cashin and Bahel at the Cape Epic. “I follow her around,” said Barry, with a smile, adding, “I’m not allowed to leave the country without a Cashin.”

    Fred Doss, who heads Paddlers for Humanity, said Monday that the event had raised $13,000, which is earmarked for the Retreat’s children’s programs.  

    The Paddlers’ next event will be the Hither Hills Half-Marathon on May 4. Its 18-mile paddleboard et cetera crossing to Block Island is slated for Aug. 9.