First-Timers Win Montauk Triathlon

Among local competitors Mike Bahel fared best
Matthew Connelly began as a swimmer in high school, turned to rowing in college, and, soon after, to triathloning. Jack Graves

A rower in college and a swimmer in high school, Matthew Connelly, 23, of New York City, won the Robert J. Aaron Montauk Triathlon Saturday in an overall time of 1 hour, 56 minutes, and 44.4 seconds, finishing two and a half minutes ahead of 27-year-old Tim Steiskal of Brookhaven, who repeated as this race’s runner-up.

The third-place finisher was the defending champion, Adrian Mackay, a New Yorker, in 1:59:44.5, a minute slower than last year, presumably owing to the fact that he was “cramping up a lot.” He and Connelly were among 20 to 30 Full Throttle Team members there that day. 

Everyone agreed the conditions were perfect. Lake Montauk, while cold, was calm, and while it was a sunny day it wasn’t humid. 

Asked why he had switched over from rowing to triathloning, Connelly said he wanted to do something that demanded “the same sort of discipline, though triathloning is a lot tougher.” As for turning pro, “We’ll see,” he said. 

The women’s winner, Jodie Robertson, 32, of Melville, is a pro. She was fifth over all, in 2:00:56.8. Connelly and she were first-timers here, though she is well known on Long Island inasmuch as she holds the Long Island marathon and half-marathon records. Recently, she won Ironman Texas, and said during a conversation after she crossed the finish line that she is aiming to better her 20th-place finish of last year at Ironman Hawaii.

As often happens, the first person out on the mile-long Lake Montauk swim, Kevin McCarthy in this case, in 22:56, fell back thereafter on the 20-mile bike and 10K run legs. 

Connelly’s splits were 24:14 for the swim, 49:53 for the bike, and 40:09 for the run. Robertson’s were 27:18, 49:42, and 40:20. Her bike time appeared to be the day’s fastest. Andrew Seidman, 27, the 15th-place finisher, appeared to be the day’s fastest runner, in 38:54.

Robertson, a music teacher at the Denton Avenue Elementary School in Herricks, said she had only begun triathloning two years ago. Before that, she said, she had strictly been a runner, “though I was getting injured all the time.” 

Asked when she had time to train, Robertson said, “Before and after school. I get up at around 3:30 to 4 in the morning, and train from 4 on in the afternoon.”

For the most part, she said, she swims in a pool, runs on the trails at Bethpage State Park, and bikes in her garage.

Liz Fernandez, 38, of Rockville Centre, the presumptive women’s runner-up (though a 50-year-old, Cassie Mc­Wil­liam, of Rye, N.Y., who had begun in a later swim wave, was to displace her by one spot), is the mother of three children, ages 9, 8, and 6. Like Roberston, she said, she got up early to train, at around 4 a.m. Later that day, she’d be among the spectators at her kids’ soccer games. Asked if her kids wanted to be like her, she said no. “Well, they should,” her interviewer said. She too will do Ironman Hawaii, as a fund-raiser for a friend who suffers from neurofibromatosis.

East Hampton’s top triathlete, David Powers, 49, who was third last year, in 2:00:21.4, was hors de combat this time, having broken his left hand in mounting his bike in his driveway several weeks ago. He rode out on it nevertheless. Getting on and off of bicycles has proved to be a problem for him — in the Montauk triathlon five years ago he fell in dismounting near the transition area, effectively depriving him of his second win there.

Among the local competitors, Mike Bahel, 50, fared the best, finishing 31st in 2:15:34.9. He placed fourth in the 50-to-54-year-old age group. Evan Drutman, 53, of New York City and Sag Harbor, was 38th, in 2:17:03.5. He crossed the line with his 3-year-old daughter, Natalie, and Glory, the Drutmans’ yellow Lab.

Mike Bottini, 62, of East Hampton, was the 60-64 runner-up, in 2:30:42.0. Richard Mohlere, 71, of Sag Harbor, was, likewise, the runner-up in the 70-to-99 division, in 3:05:06.9.

Moreover, William Healy, 54, of Amagansett, was 75th, in 2:28:46.4; Peter Hodkinson, 38, of Montauk (the third-place finisher in the recent Hither Hills Trails Half-Marathon), was 80th, in 2:29:23.0; Craig Brierley, 51, of East Hampton, was 85th, in 2:29:56.5; Tim Treadwell, 51, of Amagansett, was 187th, in 2:45:25.0, and Brian Monahan, 60, of East Hampton, was 240th, in 2:54:25.9. Doug Milano, who often can be found in the top 20, ran way off course in the 10K and thus finished out of the running.

There were 371 finishers.