Before the start of the fourth annual Maidstone Youth Triathlon in Springs on Sunday, race organizers reminded competitors that the roads were still open to regular vehicle traffic, and they needed to be mindful not only of themselves but of their fellow competitors. Then they announced that the race was dedicated to Anna Lytton, the Springs girl killed earlier this summer while riding her bicycle, who was also a classmate of many of the racers.
That spirit of looking out for each other is at the core of i-tri, a program for young girls at both the Springs and Montauk schools that aims to transform the lives of young girls by building their confidence and self-esteem, as well as teaching them how to live a healthy lifestyle.
One of the i-tri competitors in this year’s race was Sara Havens, an 11-year-old from East Hampton. During the bike portion of the race, she fell off her bike and cut her knee and shoulder bad enough that she needed the ambulance crew to come patch her up. Sara’s best friend and fellow competitor, Tiffanie Wyche, was near Sara when she fell. Rather than continue on, Tiffanie stopped and stayed with her friend, waiting for the EMTs to arrive, and then jogged with Sara the rest of the way to finish the race. When the two arrived at the finish line, they were greeted by a chorus of cheers and all of their fellow i-tri teammates.
After the race, Abby Roden, the i-tri alumni president, said that being part of the i-tri team makes each of them stronger, and she commented on Tiffanie’s act of kindness as well. “You don’t need to ask another girl to stop—you know she just will,” Roden said.
Theresa Roden, Abby’s mom, created the i-tri program in 2010. She had plenty of positive things to say about this year’s triathlon, pointing out that there were a few more i-tri girls in attendance than last year.
“So many of our girls overcome so much to make it to this day,” she said. Roden noted that i-tri is not just about the race but “about friendship, empowerment, and community building.”
A total of 33 i-tri girls took part in this year’s race.
The i-tri girls become part of the program after taking self-evaluations at school, which include questions regarding self-esteem, group involvement and athletic participation. Girls at risk are identified by the results of the evaluations, as well as through feedback from teachers. Throughout the program the girls are given a series of fitness and self-esteem evaluations to show how they have progressed. Roden was confident they all had improved self-worth even before crossing the finish line on Sunday.
The Maidstone Park Youth Triathlon is the culmination of the i-tri program, which Roden created at the same time that Sharon McCobb created the triathlon. McCobb had trained a group of teenagers to compete in the Montauk Sprint Triathlon, but the length of the phases—especially the swim—made McCobb begin to think about creating a triathlon specifically for kids, with manageable distances, so that children of all ages and ability levels could participate. Roden working on i-tri “was the kick in the butt” McCobb needed to finally get the triathlon organized, she said.
McCobb said she looked around at what other communities were doing and saw that many had different distances for different age groups, which she believed “was too much,” so she looked at the various phase distances and came up with an average distance. McCobb and Roden wanted to give the girls the opportunity to participate in a sport “that didn’t involve a ball,” McCobb said.
Overall, around 70 athletes competed in this year’s event, ranging in age from 9 to 17. According to McCobb, the number of participants was down from last year, when they had 85 sign up. “We felt the venue could handle about 100,” she said, “so we didn’t really publicize the race this year.”
The race is normally open to 10- to 17-year-olds, but Evan Boccia, 9, was allowed to participate because his parents are both triathletes and he was very eager to take part. Thomas Brierley, 17, who graduated from East Hampton in the spring, was the oldest to compete and won the race for the third year in a row.
Paige Duca of Rockville Centre, 15, was the overall female winner, while Tali Friedman, 13, from East Hampton was the i-tri winner. Tali came to i-tri in sixth grade after a tough fifth grade year where, she says, she felt “left out” of a lot. She’s now found a place in i-tri and has become a leader and role model for the other girls.
Another i-tri member who ran this year’s race was Kaya Mulligan. Last year, her family home in Montauk was destroyed by fire while her family was out of town for her grandmother’s funeral. When talking about being part of i-tri, Kaya said, “Maybe the reason I lost everything last year was to get me ready to gain so much this year.” Kaya broke her hand while training for the race, but that didn’t deter her from continuing her journey and crossing the finish line.
The top male finishers were Thomas Brierley (36:44:41), Teague Costello (36:49:78) and Thomas Paradiso (40:01:21). The top female finishers were Paige Duca (41:16:99), Liana Paradiso (41:22:92) and Maggie Purcell 43:14:78.
The Under-10 boys top three were Evan Boccia (49:17:21), Logan Gurney (52:06:61) and Kevin Bunce (1:19:03.0), while the Under-10 girls top three were Isabella Tarbet (51:56:24), Alden Powers (52:21:96) and Olivia Duca (1:00:51.6).
Among 11- and 12-year-old boys, the best times were Ryan Bahel (48:42:77), Thomas Treadwell (49:02:42) and Bear Mathews (50:50:54). The top finishers among 11- and 12-year-old girls were Julia Brierley (46:59:85), Selena Garcia-Torres (49:20:11) and Evelyn Purcell (50:01:18).
Top finishers among 13- and 14-year-old boys were T.J. Calabrese (48:06:88), Christian Brierley (48:25:63) and Josh Farahzad (53:12:15), and the top 13- and 14-year-old girls were Isabella Swanson (46:30:21), Cecelia DeHavenon (47:39:90) and Tali Friedman (49:12:64).
For more information on the i-tri girls, visit www.itrigirls.org. To view complete results from the triathlon, visit www.just-in-time-racing.com, click on “road races” and then click on “results.”