POINT BEACH – Two days after celebrating his 23rd birthday, Evan Berti of Brick competed in and completed his first Ironman Triathlon. The Ironman took place in Lake Placid, New York, on Sunday and hit on three disciplines: swimming, biking and running. Competitors swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles [a full marathon]. Berti, who is a lifeguard for Jenkinson’s Beach Patrol in the summer, decided to test his mettle in an Ironman, expanding on his passion for ultra running. “Running, I like it but I like to test myself,” he said. “I had never done a triathlon and I like to do things that make me uncomfortable and out of the norm and ironmans definitely do that.” It was a wild birthday weekend for the ultrarunner who actually ended up stressing over things outside of the actual start of the competition. “I actually went up myself and didn’t have a place to stay,” noted Berti. “I had to camp on the side of the road every night. That was a little stressful, especially by myself.” Berti made it to Sunday ready to conquer what ended up being an eye-opening experience. From start to finish, the race proved a true test of his grit, determination and drive. First up was the 2.4-mile swim, which Berti finished in one hour, 18 minutes and 39 seconds and transitioned to the bike portion in five minutes, 52 seconds. The 112-mile bike, which was two 56-mile laps, took Berti by surprise. “The first lap went pretty well,” he said. “You’re all kind of clumped up so it’s not really that bad. The second half is when it hits you and it gets real.” Riding on a borrowed bike, the hills factored in as well as a lack of air in the front tire. “The hills are very steep. They took a lot of energy out of me,” admitted Berti. “Then the last five miles my front wheel went over 50 percent flat. I was riding with about 50 percent air in my tire and it made it so much harder.” The Brick Memorial alum finished the bike in six hours, 32 minutes and 40 seconds before transitioning to the marathon. “Once I got on the run I thought I would be good,” he pointed out. “I run a fast marathon but the bike just took so much out of me. My legs were shot and it’s actually a humbling experience.” Despite the difficulty of the race and watching other competitors pass him by, Berti eventually found his legs before the race was over. He finished the marathon in four hours, 40 minutes and 36 seconds, bringing his Ironman Triathlon total time to 12 hours, 43 minutes and one second. There was no better feeling than finally crossing the finish line. “It’s incredible. That finish line — there are so many people there,” said Berti. “It’s pretty rewarding knowing you just completed something pretty difficult.” Berti has already developed a passion for ironmans and signed up for another next year. In the meantime, he will be working on building his stamina for the bike and the swim portions of the race. “Definitely the bike ride — that’s the major piece. I need to get more training sessions in on the bike,” he noted. “I don’t know how to simulate the swim with all those people but maybe I’ll do more little triathlons to get used to swimming next to someone.”
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