WESTERLY — David Ellis spent his summers at his family’s summer home in Weekapaug, and the 29-year-old Milford, Conn., resident celebrated a 2012 beach visit by winning last year’s Ocean Community YMCA Sprint Triathlon.
Ellis was back to defend his championship Sunday in the eighth annual event at Misquamicut Beach. But this year, he brought a friend and training partner, Dave Demres, a 24-year-old former Yale University long distance runner.
Well, as the proverb goes, with friends like these, who needs enemies? Demres led in every leg of the half-mile swim, 15-mile bike and 3-mile run to win in a time of 1 hour, 2 minutes and 36 seconds to dethrone Ellis, who finished in 1:04:15 in second place.
“I always compete to win but it was still a good day,” said Ellis, whose grandmother Harriett Cottrell still lives in Weekapaug. “I can usually catch [Demres] on the bike and try to hold him off on the run. But he had a great swim today and I couldn’t find my comfort zone in the choppy waters today. He’s a great athlete. Hats off to him for going wire to wire in front.”
Overnight rain Saturday into Sunday created heavy puddling on roads and parking lots throughout the course, forcing event organizers to change the bicycle portion of the course from Atlantic Avenue to Ocean View Avenue and through Watch Hill, making it a slighter shorter distance than the usual 15 miles.
The overnight storm also stirred up ocean waves and generated a stronger current, creating havoc with the swim — the opening leg. The triathlon started in overcast, drizzly weather but by the time the first finishers completed the course, precipitation stopped and the sun was starting to burst through clouds.
The poor weather may have contributed to a lower turnout (119 entries) than last year’s 173, but the elements did not phase Westerly’s Elise vonHousen, who finished seventh overall in 1:14.48 and continued her streak of mastery as first female finisher for the eighth straight year.
“I feel bad that the numbers were down because of the forecast, but on a positive note the weather kept the traffic down too,” vonHousen said. “The swim was an adventure. Aside from it being a little choppy, it was hard to see the course-marking buoys because of the fog. We were going on faith more than sight.”
Jeff Duda, the 2010 winner from Westerly, placed third in 1:05.40. He paced a solid showing from local triathletes, who comprised places fifth through 10th. Every contender was racing for second behind Demres, who was running the 5,000 for Yale two years ago. “This is my six triathlon this summer, and this will be the last of the season,” Demres said. “Most of the good triathletes at bigger races are older than me, but I’m building up to their level someday. I feel the triathlon is a great sport and a natural next step for a long distance runner looking for something a little different than a typical road race.”
A special note goes out to 10-year-old triathlete Ben Maguire, of Hope Valley, who finished 114th in 1:58.0.
The top 20 male local finishers were: 3. Jeff Duda (Westerly) 1:05:40; 5. Michael Podzaline (North Stonington) 1:11:24; 6. Matt Anderson (Westerly) 1:12:01; 7. Tom Bousquet (Westerly) 1:12:06; 9. Stephen Schonning (Westerly) 1:15:03; 10. Mark Burbelo (Westerly) 1:15:04; 19. Jeff Walker (Westerly) 1:18:01; 22. Ed Winn (Charlestown) 1:18:51; 23. Robert Collins (Stonington) 1:18:54; 28. Michael Mulford (North Stonington) 1:19:47; 41. Robert Oldmeadow (North Stonington) 1:22:23; 43. Gregory Steeno (Mystic) 1:22:52; 49. Timmy Lebling (Mystic) 1:24:09; 50. Glen Browning (Hope Valley) 1:24:43; 53. Aaron Thieme (Pawcatuck) 1:25.07; 70. Skip Hoffman (Ashaway) 1:28.42; 74. Brian Anderson (Pawcatuck) 1:30.05; 83. Michael Bontempo (Westerly) 1:34.22; 89. James Cruso (Westerly) 1:36.15; and 93. Kenneth Niles (Ashaway) 1:37.46.
The top 10 local women were: 8. Elise vonHousen (Westerly) 1:14:58; 27. Jennifer Massengale (Mystic) 1:19:45; 40. Katie Roden (Mystic) 1:22:08; 46. Laura Harrington (Mystic) 1:23:40; 52. Maria Labriola (Westerly) 1:25:03; 76. Cheryl Robdau (Mystic) 1:30:39; 80. Carol Ann Gray (Pawcatuck) 1:33:19; 87. Melanie Diamanti (Pawcatuck) 1:35:13; 91. Heli Lehtosaari (Stonington) 1:36:21; 103. Tiffany Cozzolino (Westerly) 1:45:04.