Verizon NYC Triathlon returns after long hiatus with 3,000 participants, and a lot of running

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Jason West finishes the Verizon Triathlon in first place.
Photo by Dean Moses

After more than a year of big sporting events facing cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Verizon NYC Triathlon was back on track on Sunday morning.

The renowned test of endurance returned on July 11 for the first time since 2018 and saw more than 2,000 triathletes put through their paces — but not everything went according to plan.

The athletic extravaganza was originally set to begin with a swim in the Hudson River off West 81st Street, but due to continuous heavy rainfall, bacteria levels in the waterway rose to nine times higher than safety precautions would allow.

Instead, the now two-event competition began with a foot race, first with the male professionals followed closely by the female professionals, and then the amateurs who sped away two at a time.

The female professional triathletes begin the race. Photo by Dean Moses
A runner strikes a pose. Photo by Dean Moses

With athletes advised to ditch their swimsuits and arrive in run gear, the event was altered into a duathlon, which consisted of a one-mile sprint, followed by a 24.8-mile bike ride, and then a second run over a 10K course.

Along the way. supporters lined the Central Park West roadways to cheer on athletes with signs and bells as they made the grueling trek toward the finish line located at the Naumburg Bandshell.

It took male pro Jason West one hour and 35 minutes to cross the finish line in first place and female pro Amy Sloan one hour and 48 minutes, both of whom held up the finish line banner triumphantly.

A supporter dresses as lady liberty. Photo by Dean Moses

“I am exhausted, it was pretty tough out there,” Sloan told amNewYork Metro after grabbing a bottle of water. “The crowd was incredible! I didn’t expect to see so many people because of COVID but the crowd really just took me home.”

Amy Sloan crosses through the finish line. Photo by Dean Moses

While Sloan, fellow competitors, and spectators were happy to see the NYC Triathlon back putting the pedal to the metal; others were disgruntled regarding the last-minute announcement cancelling the swimming portion of the event, pivoting the experience to a duathlon. 

Jason West finishes first. Photo by Dean Moses

According to Verizon NYC Triathlon organizers, the Hudson River’s lab results were given to them extremely late in the day while they awaited health and safety guidance from officials.

An athlete collapses after reaching the finish line. Photo by Dean Moses

“It’s been two years of the race not happening, and to now have close to 2,000 participants from 39 states and 19 countries in attendance we are just really proud. And we are really proud of everyone’s accomplishments today. So, we just wanted to say thank you, especially since we know the format of the race changed a little bit,” said Nicole Bostick, the associate marketing director of Life Time, which owns and produces the Verizon Triathlon.  

A man pushes himself to the finish. Photo by Dean Moses
Every man and woman who finished received a medal. Photo by Dean Moses
The race began with two at a time after the professionals. Photo by Dean Moses
A competitor is confident as he starts the event. Photo by Dean Moses
Spectators rang bells for those competing. Photo by Dean Moses