Marcantonio at home in Lake Placid 70.3

Nicholas Marcantonio, of Glens Falls, crosses the finish line in the Olympic speedskating oval in Lake Placid after taking first place overall in Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 triathlon. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

LAKE PLACID — Nicholas Marcantonio has had an exceptional summer competing in Ironman races on what he considers his home course.

Back at the end of July, he took the short trip north from his home in Glens Falls looking to secure a berth in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii with a solid performance in Lake’s Placid’s 140.6-mile race. The 26-year-old achieved his goal by placing 19th overall in a field of more than 2,000.

On Sunday, Marcantonio came through again at half the distance, taking first place overall in the Ironman Lake Placid 70.3 triathlon.

The former All-American collegiate track athlete at SUNY Cortland finished with a winning time of 4 hours, 16 minutes and 40 seconds, a result that included the fastest ride of the day on the 56-mile bike leg. He completed the 1.2-mile swim in 29:26, finished the bike in 2:18:06 and nailed down the victory with a 1:22:39 effort in the half-marathon distance run.

It was the second Ironman 70.3 victory of the year for Marcantonio, who was also the top overall finisher on June 2 in Connecticut.

Maureen Mahoney, of Ottawa, takes on the Ironman 70.3 bike course Sunday in Lake Placid on the way to winning the women’s title. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

When asked if he came to Lake Placid to win, Marcantonio replied, “That was the goal, yeah.

“I felt good. I felt pretty solid on the bike, and the legs came around on the run, so I held it together,” he said. “I was happy with it. It means a lot, especially because it’s a hometown race. It’s fun. I’ve biked the course three or times in the past four months, so it’s kind of on the back of the palm of my hand. I know it pretty well.”

Marcantonio led a trio of 25-29 age group triathletes who swept the top three spots overall. Zach Looney, of New Haven, Connecticut, finished runner-up in 4:18:45, and Nicolas Proulx-Begin of Quebec City placed third with a 4:19:14.

The women’s race turned out to be amazingly close, with a mere half second separating the champion and the second-place finisher. The event kicked off with a self-seeded rolling start, with four-person waves entering Mirror Lake every seven seconds, and that means a triathlete starting farther back in the pack could possibly turn in a faster combined time and beat a competitor that wound up crossing the finish line first.

As it turned out, Canadian Maureen Mahoney was the first woman to reach the line but she had to wait until the finish times were sorted out after Aimee Phillippi-Taylor completed her race. In the end, both athletes were clocked at 4:58:35, but race officials told the pair that Mahoney was a half-second quicker and was the champion.

Competing in the 35-39 age group, Mahoney, who hails from Ottawa, had the fastest swim (31:06) and the fastest run (1:25:48) in the women’s field, which were performances that ultimately led to her overall title. That’s because Mahoney had some misfortune on a bike leg which saw her crash twice after cutting a pair of turns too tightly.

Despite the falls, Mahoney finished the 56-mile bike leg in 2:55:31. Phillippi-Taylor, a 40-44 age grouper, had the fastest women’s bike result of 2:41:44.

Both women said they were happy with the outcome.

Mahoney was competing in just her second half-Ironman race. Her first took place on this summer on July 7 in Muskoka, Ontario, where she placed third in the women’s field.

“It’s pretty exciting. I definitely didn’t plan on winning,” Mahoney said. “It was a tough day, a tough course, so I’m grateful to have had a good day.”

The 38-year-old said the half-Ironman distance suits her well, explaining that training for a 140.6-mile race requires a much larger time commitment.

“I’m pretty happy with half Ironman,” Mahoney said. “Having a full-time job and a family, doing a half, that’s enough training; got to keep a balance. It’s always nice to win, but you never know what’s going to happen. It’s never a goal, so the win is icing on the cake, a bonus.”

Mahoney said she enjoyed the experience competing in the Adirondacks on Sunday. Her finish time was good enough for 48th place overall.

“It was challenging. The bike is hilly and out there today it was windy, the run is lovely though,” she said. “Nice rolling hills and beautiful scenery; going by the ski jump venue is awesome, really cool. I want to come back. I’ll work on my bike turns and be back.”

All Phillippi-Taylor wanted to do was win her age group to qualify for next year’s 70.3 World Championships in New Zealand. That’s exactly what the triathlete Glenville, Pennsylvania did, in addition to finishing overall runner-up in the women’s field. Sunday was Phillippi-Taylor’s first appearance in an Ironman triathlon, although she has competed at the same distance before

“My goal was to win the age group so I could get my world championship spot and I did that,” Phillippi-Taylor said, adding she had an inkling that she might have been contending for the top spot along with Mahoney. “We didn’t start at the same time. I keep saying if I had known, I might have been able to sprint a bit more but she was running so strong when she went by me. I just figured I had a solid second and I just enjoyed the finish because this is my first Ironman race.”

Competing in the men’s 50-54 age group, Saranac Lake’s Rich Burke turned in the fastest finish time among area participants. The veteran who will be appearing in his third full-distance Ironman World Championships next month placed 15th overall Sunday with a 4:40:45 finish time. Burke said he used the 70.3 event as a training day for Kona.

“It was a really good day,” he said. “I did this race last year and it seemed like the conditions were going to be the same coming into this year, but it was a little bit different. It was a little windy, not as cold, which was nice but a lot of wind coming back on the bike.

“With the Ironman, it’s just a matter of pacing yourself all day, keeping up with your nutrition, not getting ahead of yourself, not burning too many matches,” Burke continued. “The half is a little bit different. It’s more of an all-out race, trying not to hold back. I felt great today.”

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