From our original press release: Rhode Island: The East Coast's Oldest Triathlon
Chris Beam of Allentown, PA won the 9th Annual Sri Chinmoy Triathlon, Misquamicut, RI, in 3:30:07. For the first time in all its runnings, the same athlete won each division of the race - the 1 mile swim, 50 mile cycle and 10 mile run. The women's winner was a seasoned triathlete and frequent winner of area events, Beth Nelson of East Harwich, Mass, in 3:52:59.
In the eight years since the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team held the East Coast's first Triathlon, in Groton, Connecticut, a lot of changes have come to the sport. Back in 1979, only 70 athletes took part in the race - a 1 mile swim, 27 mile cycle and 10 mile run. The running magazines and newspapers covered it as a novelty. None of the athletes was accomplished in all of the events and consequently the order of leaders changed dramatically with each change of sport. The race was won by a determined young runner from Greenwich named Mark MacIntyre...
In a mere 8 years, triathloning has come of age - a separate sport with its own language, own sports gear and own system of training. Right along the way, those aficionados of endurance events of any nature, the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team have been in the forefront of the development of this sport. An international team with branches in 24 countries, they have often been the first group to introduce triathlons to the area. Victoria, Canada, held the first American West Coast, and first Canadian, triathlon in 1980. In 1981, Australia saw its first triathlon - a Sri Chinmoy event in Queensland (now the country's official national triathlon and held in Adelaide); and Puerto Rico also fielded its first triathlon, The Sri Chinmoy San Juan event. Another Sri Chinmoy Triathlon is now held in Melbourne, Australia. The Marathon Team sponsored the first Canadian East Coast triathlon in 1983, in Montreal, and shortly after that the first event in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 1983 also saw the first Sri Chinmoy triathlon in Zurich, Switzerland.
The Rhode Island Triathlon - in 1982 declared the official marathon of that state - continues in its regal tradition as a premier quality amateur event. In addition, each year the top Rhode Island man and woman finisher have their names inscribed on a silver cup, which resides on permanent display in the State House. This year's Governor's Cup winners were Robert Lamothe, of Coventry, who finished 18th overall in 3:47:33 and Kimberly Walsh of Cranston, who finished 3rd woman in 4:08:10. At one time, in the heyday of the ultra-event, this triathlon went up in distance to a 1 1/2 mile open ocean swim, 60 mile cycle and 15 mile run. However, it bowed to the interests of its participants by decreasing the distance this year.
Among those on hand at the event was Mark MacIntyre, who in the intervening years had gone on to win this Sri Chinmoy Triathlon four times in all. He had become one of the East Coast's first and finest triathletes, winning numerous area events and placing high in the grand-daddy of all triathlons, the Hawaii Ironman. This year, suffering from back problems, he was there as coach to Joni Van Der Veen-Dunn, an heroic who some ten years ago had been told she would never walk again without a limp. A tragic ski accident had put her in a body cast for a year. Through sheer will-power and a lot of help from her friends, Joni worked her way back not only to health but to becoming a limp-free leading Masters competitor in that most demanding of sports, the triathlon. Joni's inspiring story has been featured in Reader's Digest and she now spends much of her time visiting rehabilitation hospitals and groups, encouraging others to do as she - never giving up and always striving to transcend their present capacities, one step at a time. Joni finished 9th woman in this year's RI event, in 4:14:03. If there were a Master's division, she would have won it, as she won last year's Master's division of the Ironman.