World Champ Triathlete Was Here

Andrew Kalley, 35, had a winning time of 2 hours, 7 minutes, and 42 seconds
Karen Smyers, who won three world I.T.U. championships and a Hawaiian Ironman in her pro career, was among the Mighty Hamptons Triathlon’s competitors Sunday. Craig Macnaughton

Sunday’s Mighty Hamptons Triathlon, a memorial to the late Steve Tarpinian, was won by a first-timer, Andrew Kalley, 35, of New York City, in 2 hours, 7 minutes, and 42 seconds. 

Starting in the second, not the elite, wave at Long Beach in Noyac, Kalley’s splits were 30:22 in the 1.5-mile swim, 59:56 in the 40K bike, and 34:44 in the 10K run.

Vicki Ventura, the race director, said there were 473 finishers all told, including the triathlon’s 363 individual competitors and its relay teams, as well as the aquabike, an event in its second year, that drew 27 entrants, who swam and biked, but did not run.

The women’s winner, in 2:23:05, was Tara McWilliams, 32, of New York City. 

Among the local finishers were Didric Cederholm of Sag Harbor, who was 28th in 2:32:32, Mike Bahel of East Hampton, who was 36th in 2:36:21, Angelika Cruz of Montauk, who was 80th in 2:46:45, and Tim Treadwell of Amagansett, who was 185th in 3:08:50.

Ventura said she was particularly pleased to have Karen Smyers, a Hall of Fame triathlete who in her career has won three I.T.U. world championships and a Hawaiian Ironman championship, in the field.

Smyers, who is 57 and lives in Lincoln, Mass., was the 11th female finisher over all, in 2:45:01, and bested the female 55-59 division’s runner-up by 20 minutes.

In a clinic she gave on Saturday, she spoke of “the four Ps — passion, perseverance, positive attitude, and perspective,” and of how important one’s mental state is. 

“In my first world championships, in Orlando in 1990,” she said later in the week, “I very much wanted to get on the podium, having finished fourth the year before. I had a great swim and bike and started the 10K run in second place, behind Erin Baker. I was already imagining what I would wear to the awards ceremony!”

“Then, a half-mile into the run I was passed by Carol Montgomery and Joy Hansen. By mile 3 they had opened up a 15 to 20-second lead and I was wallowing in self-pity. I was thinking how unfair it was to ask a New England girl to run in such heat, on a golf course with no shade. Then Scott Molina, Erin’s husband, cheered for me. ‘Karen,’ he said, when I gave him a weary, hangdog look, ‘you’ve got to want it!’ ”

“That remark cut through the self-pity, and I realized how bad my attitude was. I decided to ignore the heat and began to reel them in. I ended up sprinting past Carol and Joy, who were still running side by side, and Erin.” 

“ ‘Karen is back!’ Carol said to Joy as I passed them. It was if I’d been resurrected from the dead. In a way, I had been. I was a different person with that change of attitude. The difference between a monumental achievement and a race that would have left me disappointed came down entirely to my mental state, not my physical preparedness. Never underestimate the power of your mind to achieve things . . . or to derail you!”

“I think I am probably most proud of the length and breadth of my career,” she said when asked about her proudest moment — “excelling at both short and long distances at the same time and managing to extend my pro career for 27 years.” 

Thyroid cancer kept her out of the 2000 Olympics, yet, she said, “having an Olympic team to try out for was the perfect motivation to help me fly through my cancer diagnosis and treatment. I am thankful that I had that goal at that time in my life, as it was just what I needed to pull me through. And looking at the grand scheme of what this sport has given me over the years I really can’t complain about one missed opportunity.”

Regarding Mighty Hamptons, she said, “I’m so happy to see a race like this — which even predated me! — endure. I remember reading in Triathlete magazine about all the greats [Dave Scott, Scott Tinley, John Howard, and Allison Roe among them] who raced here. Event Power does a wonderful job.”

As for her triathloning future, Smyers said, “Right now I tell people that I don’t want to ever retire because I want to continue to be part of a sport that fosters a feeling of anticipation when you’re about to enter a new age group. I’m personally eyeing the 80-to-84-year-old women’s record at the Hawaiian Ironman. No one has finished within the 17-hour deadline yet! Of course, it will probably be down to around 12 hours by the time I’m 80.”

Andrew Kalley, 35, of New York City was the Mighty Hamptons Triathlon’s winner, in 2 hours, 7 minutes, and 42 seconds. Craig Macnaughton Photos