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The Mighty Montauk, 1999:” My “100th” Race

By Dr. Steve Jonas | March 30, 2021, 3:50 p.m. (ET)

Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 65, 2021/00)  

In June, 1999 for the third time, I set out to do the “Mighty Montauk,” held at (wait for it) Montauk, N.Y. at the very Eastern tip of the South Fork of Long Island.  But this one was special.  First, I was accompanied by the woman, the lovely Mrs. Chezna Newman (RIP), who would eventually become my wife (we had just met about 1 1/2/years previously), and second, this race would be what I thought would be my 100th (see the end of this column for which one it really was).  Yes, this race was special for me in those senses.  But it was also special for me in that it was the third time I would be doing it.  As well for the race itself it was special for it was a very early tri. for the country and for New York State’s Long Island, for it was founded the same year, 1982, as the Mighty Hamptons, which had been my very first race in 1983 (see in this series, “My First Race”).

The race had been founded by the late Robert “Bob” Aaron, a local motel owner and well-known figure in the Montauk Community.  The race had a very “community” feel about it, with lots of entrants from the area as well as many of the volunteers being local as well.  When I was doing the race in the early days (my first Montauk was in 1986) it had a very “Bob” feeling about it, for he was everywhere, from providing lodging at his motel (of you got in your reservation really early), to being at the start and at the finish, and occasionally out of the course to see how things were going.  Just about everyone who did the race more than once knew Bob for he not only managed the event, he was its spirit too.  And he is still with the event, for it is now known as the Robert J. Aaron Memorial Mighty Montauk Triathlon. 

I remember that first one well, June 1986.  I was still fairly new to the sport, but experienced enough that I had acquired my first wetsuit.  And for that trace, that was a good thing.  The swim was held in a body of water called Montauk Lake.  And from long before humans ever arrived in that part of the world, it had been a freshwater lake, a shallow one too.  But sometime in the 1920s a developer named Carl Fisher, with very grand plans, set about to develop Montauk as a new terminal for Trans-Atlantic Ocean liners, as an alternative to the increasingly congested New York Harbor.  That never came to fruition, but one thing that he did do was to cut a channel from the north end of the Lake to Block Island Sound, changing the water in the lake from fresh to slat, while also making that water the same temperature as the Sound.  And in June, that was cooold.

As you may know, I have done 256 races in the course of my tri-bi career and so I have specific memories of very few of the starts.  But I do remember that one.  For as I was wading in through the shallow water at the start, next to me was a young man wearing only a bathing suit.  “Do you know that this water is going to pretty cold?” I asked him.  Words to the effect of “I can handle it” came from his lips.  But after a few more steps, he reversed course pretty quickly.  I did not see him again at the race.

And then we come to my “100th,” in June, 1999.  I was obviously very excited about this one, and as I said the Lady Chezna was with me for that one.  I don’t remember much about the race itself, except that the water was still quite cold, the course had been changed from the first one I did (this time it included a wonderful, very hilly, but very scenic ride out to Montauk Point and back), I was third in my age-group (then 60-64, with the age-group that I was in in the New York Metropolitan region being so small that I got an age-group medal at virtually any race I entered), and there was “Chez,” waiting for me at the finish, sporting what I had already come to know as the “Chezna Smile.”  It was indeed, a great day all ‘round.

Oh yes.  The reason that it was not truly my 100th was that when I was doing my race-counting wrap-up at the end of the season (and I do have a record of every race that I have done), I have discovered that in fact it was my 101st.  Good thing.  It would have been embarrassing if it had turned out to be only my 99th.  The real 100th turned out to have been the NYC Triathlon Club Queens Biathlon held in May of that year.


This series of thoughts and recommendations about multi-sport racing by Dr. Steve Jonas is, over time, drawn in part from his book, 101 Ideas and Insights for Triathletes and Duathletes (Monterey, CA: Healthy Learning/Coaches Choice, 2011), from which text is used with permission. The book can be purchased here and is available at and

Steve’s most recent multisport book is Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals®: Getting Started and Staying with It (Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press/FalconGuides, 2012), available at and

His first book on multi-sport racing, Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®, 2nd Ed. (New York: WW Norton, 2006) also can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Steve has been racing tri’s and du’s since 1983.  At the end of his 36th season in the sport, 2018, he had done a total of 256 races.  He did not race in 2019 due to his own illness (from which he fully recovered), nor in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  For obvious reasons, 2021 is a maybe.