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TOBAY Triathlon supports charities

Michele Henschel, 29, of Long Beach, finished first

Michele Henschel, 29, of Long Beach, finished first out of the women at the TOBAY Triathlon with a time of 1:02:04. (Aug. 26, 2012) (Credit: Mary Kate Mahoney)

Cheryl Russo, 38, waited anxiously with Darren Gerbosi, 45, on the shore of Oyster Bay Harbor before joining the third wave of swimmers to enter the water on Sunday morning for the 25th annual TOBAY Triathlon.

“I’m nervous about the swimming leg,” Russo, an avid biker and runner, said of competing in her first triathlon Sunday.

Oyster Bay residents Russo and Gerbosi are both members of Team Wagner, a group of more than 250 Long Island residents who have been competing in the TOBAY Triathlon for more than 10 years. Each year the team chooses a different charity to support. This year they selected the American Cancer Society.


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“We usually raise about $5,000,” said Gerbosi, who has participated in each TOBAY Triathlon.

The ACS was one of many charities represented at the race, including the Wounded Warriors Project, an organization that supports injured service members and veterans. Organized by the Greater Long Island Running Club, the TOBAY Triathlon's 1,400 competitors swim a half-mile, bike 15 kilometers and finish with a 5K run.

Gerbosi says he lives an active lifestyle of biking and running, but doesn’t compete in any other official races.

“This is my one annual race,” he said. “I do it for the camaraderie and for the beer at the end.”

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park was filled with competitors and their supporters cheering from the sidelines. This event has the highest participation of all triathlons on Long Island, according to the Greater Long Island Running Club.

“TOBAY has been around as long as triathlon has been around,” said Richard Izzo, 47, who travels from Rye each year to participate in the race. “This is what triathlons are all about.”

Babylon's Tom Eickelberg, 23, won the men's overall title with a time of 54:58, and Long Beach's Michele Henschel, 29, took the overall women's title with a time of 1:02:04.

The victors and veterans like Izzo and Gerbosi were joined by many first-time racers, some as young as 15 years old. This was the first triathlon for Bradley Scalise, 31, of Carle Place, who began training earlier this year.

“I wanted to do this to challenge myself to do something I’ve never done before and check it off the bucket list,” Scalise said.

Above: Michele Henschel, 29, of Long Beach, finished first out of the women at the TOBAY Triathlon with a time of 1:02:04. (Aug. 26, 2012)

Tags: Oyster Bay , TOBAY , triathlon , wounded , warriors

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