Four islanders complete 70.3-mile half Ironman
That's 70.3 miles.
The triathletes began their day at 7 a.m. with a 1.2-mile open water swim at Roger Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett, followed by a 56-mile bike race to Providence and the last leg was a 13.1 mile run through the hills of College Hill and the East Side.
Abigail Anthony was the third woman from Rhode Island to cross the finish line with a time of 5:26.08. "It wasn't the fastest I have done a half Ironman, but compared to other people's times, I was happy given the course and conditions," Anthony said. "I was out of the water by 7:30 a.m., biked for three hours, then started running and it was so hot."
An experienced triathlete, Jamestown resident Kevin Barry was thrilled that the Ironman came to Rhode Island although the course was very challenging.
To familiarize himself with the course, Barry rode his bike to work in Providence with islander and fellow competitor Mark Matoes. The training partners also swam from Jamestown to North Kingstown a few days before the event. "The open swim can be intimidating, so it was good to get in the water be- fore the race," Barry said. He described the swim conditions on race day as "uncharacteristically choppy." Barry also said that being from Rhode Island it was mentally tough knowing he had to bike to Providence. "Usually you start and finish in the same spot and here you are thinking I am going all the way to Providence."
Islander Dennis Nixon also trained with a partner. "I rode the bike course once and that made all the difference, knowing where and when to coast. I averaged 17 miles per hour which is faster than I have ever gone."
The overall winner was from Brazil and completed the course in just under four hours. The first Ironman in Rhode Island was considered a success with athletes coming from Australia, Canada, Europe, and South America. Out of 1,300 competitors, only 200 were from Rhode Island. Some took almost eight hours to complete the course.
Although the heat and humidity is not ideal for running, the water temperature is warmer in the summer months even though most athletes wear wetsuits. Anthony said, "Generally everyone wears a wetsuit since you start with 100 swimmers at a time and people are going over you and under you and pulling you down and kicking you in the head so it is nice to have the extra flotation. It is totally different than swimming in the pool and any advantage that a person might have goes out the window."
All the athletes praised the event organizers. Anthony said, "There were thousands of volunteers. There was water and Gatorade and food all over the place and police at every corner. Safety was important."
"These guys (Ironman) are professionals. it was the most well orchestrated event I have ever done," Nixon said.
All the islanders may compete in the Firman Half Ironman held in Narragansett in September, although Barry said, "Maybe I'll do a nice short one instead."
"I can only peak for one of these events a year without getting injured," Nixon said.
All three did say that they plan to do the Ironman 70.3 again next summer. Nixon can also be seen exiting the water this weekend in his ninth appearance at the Save the Bay swim.