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Pushing tin in Tupper

June 26, 2017
By LOU REUTER - Senior Sports Writer ( , Lake Placid News

TUPPER LAKE - After taking place in 90-degree heat a year ago, the Tupper Lake Tinman Triathlon couldn't have been held under much more pleasant temperatures this time around.

On Saturday, more than 600 triathletes competing in five different races swam, biked and ran in comfortable temperatures on a day mixed with blue skies and clouds. The one big issue, however, was wind, and that made heading out on the swim and the bike ride difficult to say the least.

Two triathletes who turned in top-three finishes in the Tinman in 2016 broke through with their first wins at the 70.3-mile distance as Michael Espejo and Kerzia Marchant claimed the men's and women's overall titles in the event's longest competition.

Article Photos

Lake Placid’s Elizabeth Izzo pedals her bike Saturday in the Tinman. She finished second in her age group and sixth overall in the women’s field.
(News photo — Lou Reuter)

Espejo, of Brighton, Massachusetts, topped the men's field with a finish time of 4 hours, 21 minutes and 55.7 seconds, while Marchant, of Liverpool, won the women's championship in 4:41:02.2.

Espejo placed third in the Tinman a year ago and was able to grab first place despite having just raced in the Syracuse 70.3 Ironman race seven days earlier.

"I actually did Syracuse last week, and I wasn't sure how my legs were going to respond but things worked out pretty well," Espejo said. "My goal was just to have a good performance. Last year was really hot and today we couldn't have had better weather. It was perfect. Going out to the first turn on the swim was really choppy but going back in it was much smoother, much easier. It was the same on the bike, Going out it was a pretty bad headwind.

"Today couldn't have been any better," Espejo added. "A PR for myself, a PR on the course and the overall win. This was my first ever win overall for this distance. I'm going to have a few beers, celebrate and just hang out. It's awesome."

A year ago, Marchant came to Tupper Lake to race at the 70.3 distance (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run) for the first time in her career as a triathlete. She finished runner-up to Tupper Lake's Amy Farrell, but this time, with Farrell not in the field, Marchant crossed the line well ahead of the rest of the women's field.

Sharon Gallant-Pierce, grabbed second place more than 21 minutes off Marchant's winning time.

"I was hoping she (Farrell) wouldn't be here today," Marchant said with an exhausted smile after her victory. "Amy Farrell is a local hero.

"My race was about what I wanted it to be," she added. "It hurts no matter what. Really, my goal was beating my time from last year, and I think I did that, so I'm happy. There was a little rain out there today, but it wasn't bad."

Although Marchant has only entered the Tinman twice, she said she has been coming to Tupper Lake to visit family members since she was young.

"I like the Tinman. It's a good race in a beautiful setting," Marchant said. "I've got family here. It's my favorite place on earth. I love it here. It always feels good."

Not only did Kerzia Marchant take a Tinman title home to Liverpool, so did her husband Ryan. He raced to the men's and overall title in Saturday's sprint, winning in 1:19:08.5.

"We did pretty well as a couple today," he said. "We wanted to come back and do better, and it was a good day. My goal wasn't to win, but rather it was just to have fun, and I guess I did both. She's (Kerzia) is a good motivator.

"We come up here two or three times a year when the weather is nice," Marchant added. "We make a nice little vacation out of this - a good long weekend. This is a pretty low-key event that's not too big. It's just perfect. It's a nice community feeling here - a good vibe."

Second place in the men's 70.3 race went to Greg Binns of New York City. On Saturday, Binns, who finished seventh here in 2016, grabbed his 17-month-old son and carried him across the finish line.

"You always want to win, but I'm training for Lake Placid so I haven't been training for speed like this so I'm very happy with my result," Binns said. "I'll take it for sure. The swimming was little rough. I had some trouble there, but the bike was OK. There was a tailwind on the way back, and then on the run it was fine. We got a nice little rain shower in the middle of it. Today was a lot better than last year. It was 92. It was so hot."

Racing with a heavy heart, Audrey Friedrichsen of Becon successfully defended her women's sprint title Saturday. A member of team FinKraft, Friedrichsen recently lost a friend, Jocelyn Gertel, who died after a bike accident two weeks ago.

"A group of us came up here for the race, and Jocelyn was going to be here today," Friedrichsen said. "She was on all of our minds today."

Friedrichsen placed third overall and topped the women's sprint field with a 1:24:25 result. She was just coming off competing in the United States masters cycling championships in Georgia and is also preparing for another half-Ironman distance race in August in Maine.

"This is really a great race," she said. "A lot of local people volunteer to put this on, and they are doing something right. It's been running for a long time. For a lot of people on their training calendar it makes a lot of sense. I think a lot of people do the half in preparation for Lake Placid.

"I just came off a masters cycling national so now I've switched over to tri," Friedrichsen continued. "I started with this sprint and then I'll do and Olympic distance and hopefully I'll be ready for the half Ironman in Maine. This was good practice today because with this wind, it was quite wavy out there. It was my first swim this year in open water and it was a bit of a surprise to get smacked with those waves. My confidence took a little hit but then it was like 'you need to do this because you're going to be in the ocean in August."

Not only does the Tinman draw competitors from across the United States and Canada, but loads of local triathletes enjoy getting into the mix. Two Lake Placid residents, Elizabeth Izzo and Sean Davis had solid performances in the 70.3 race.

Izzo, who competed in the Ironman World Championships in 2016, was the sixth-fastest woman in the field Saturday, finishing in 5:12:22. In addition to racing in the Tinman, Izzo plans to be in the field when Lake Placid hosts its first half-Ironman distance race in September.

"I felt very strong today," said Izzo, who also saw her father Bill on the course. "I know I finished in the top 10 women, so I'm psyched. By the end of the summer, I should be super fit and ready to go and chase people in Lake Placid.

"This race is very family oriented and it was part of my childhood," Izzo continued. "We'd always come watch my dad do it. This is his 18th time today. I cheered him on on the bike but I didn't see him on the run. It's a family tradition."

Earlier this month, Davis was hampered by a hamstring injury while running in the 13th annual Lake Placid Marathon, but said he wasn't bothered by it all on Saturday. He finished 10th overall in the Tinman, crossing the line in 4:37:14.4.

"Overall it was a good race. I was happy with it," Davis said. "I finished about four minutes faster than I did last year. The swim wasn't great. Going out was tough. My goggles fogged up, I got off course and I was about four minutes slower than I wanted to be but I made up for it. I had a great bike. I was much faster than last year and I had a great run too.

"I'm about four weeks out from the Ironman (Lake Placid) and I'm doing the Ironman 70.3, sod today was pretty much a training day," Davis added. "I definitely had some left in the tank when I was done, which is a good sign going into Ironman."

One of the younger competitors in the race was Tupper Lake's Riley Gillis, who will be heading into 10th grade this fall. On Saturday, he took on the sprint distance (0.5-mile swim, 12.6-mile bike, 3.1-mile run) for the second year in a row. He finished in 1:45:29 with his mother and father there to cheer him on.

"I did it again this year because I had fun last year," Gillis said. "The first part going into the wind was really hard but I got through. This is my hometown, and it's cool seeing how much every one loves this race. My cousins have been doing it for the past couple years and I wanted to see if I could beat any of them. There were five us out there today - four in the sprint and one in the Olympic."

One of the most visible entries in Saturday's race just happened to be the two-person team of Jeff and Jim Cornick, who hail from the Saratoga region. The father-and-son team are preparing to enter the 2018 Ironman Boulder. Jim, the dad, has Multiple Sclerosis and was pulled and pushed by his son Jeff in the Olympic distance event. They needed to complete one triathlon of at least an Olympic distance to qualify and got the job done with a 4:14:28.2 finish time.

Jeff, 38, is a triathlon coach and Ironman veteran. On Saturday, he pulled his father in an inflatable kayak during the swim, pulled him on the bike leg in a wheeled cart called a chariot and then pushed him during the run. Jeff said it was a tough race, but with perseverance, the team pulled through.

"I think we could have picked an easier race," Jeff said. "The hills on the bike were hard. They were relentless is a good way of putting it - just nonstop, one after another. The swim was very choppy. You've got whitecaps out there.

"But we made it, and we're excited. We have a lot training to do," Jeff continued. "There will be a lot of lawn chair training for "Pops" and a lot on the bike for me. We just had to finish today. It took a little over four hours. It was a relief."


Local finishers


1.2-mile swim, 56 bike, 13.1 run

Sean Davis, Lake Placid
Elizabeth Izzo, Lake Placid
Jay Niederbuhl, Bloomingdale
David Balestrini, Lake Placid
Chris Galaty, Keene Valley
Rick Preston, Lake Placid
Joaquin Castillo, Tupper Lake
Robert Tebo, Tupper Lake
Morgan Ryan, Saranac Lake
Veronica Byers, Lake Placid
Kyle Murray, Saranac Lake
William Izzo Jr., Lake Placid
.93-mile swim, 26 bike, 6.2 run
Jeff Erenstone, Lake Placid
Shannon Littlefield, Tupper Lake
Wes Wilson, Bloomingdale
Janne Rand, Lake Placid
Robert Lepak, Saranac Lake
Leonard Clement, Tupper Lake
.5-mile swim, 12.6 bike, 3.1 run
Samantha Davies, Tupper Lake
Deborah Erenstone, Lake Placid
Karl Zaunbrecher, Saranac Lake
Riley Gillis, Tupper Lake
Corey Case, Tupper Lake
Lynne Hunter, Lake Placid
Toby Familo, Saranac Lake
Eli Littlefield, Tupper Lake
Sara Ellis, Tupper Lake
Jackie Beattie, Saranac Lake
Tim Littlefield, Tupper Lake



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