By Gordon Woodworth, Chronicle News Editor
Nick Marcantonio wants to be the best young triathlete in the world, and at 23 has already qualified for the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii this October.
First, on April 22, the 2011 Glens Falls High School graduate and former three-time All-American runner at SUNY Cortland will compete in the North American Championship in Texas, his first full triathlon.
“That will be more of a training day, a learning experience for me,” Marcantonio, 23, told The Chronicle.
He’s coached by Kevin Crossman, Glens Falls High School’s swim coach and a triathlete himself. He says Nick is “already an above average elite amateur triathlete…and I think he can be a professional triathlete, which is not an easy thing to accomplish.”
Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112, run 26.2
Ironman contestants swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and finish with a 26.2-mile marathon run. Last year’s world champion completed it in just more than eight hours.
“Just a walk in the park,” smiles Nick.
Training is no picnic either. Working out about 20 hours a week (around his job as a personal trainer at the Glens Falls YMCA), Nick swims at least 4,000 yards on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, rides his custom Cannondale racing bike for two hours at a clip and runs 20-30 miles. There’s also strength training and flexibility work.
Last Sunday, he rode hard for five hours on the bike and jumped right off and into a brisk 45-minute run. That was after swimming 3,600 yards the day before.
Sponsored by Grey Ghost Bicycles
Nick’s main sponsor is Grey Ghost Bicycles in Glens Falls. Owners Paul and Dan Fronhofer provided Marcantonio’s high-end, 22-gear bike that would retail for $6,000 or more. Nuun Hydration is another sponsor, providing electrolytes tablets.
“We see a lot of potential in him,” said Grey Ghost operations manager Steve Fairchild, a former elite bike racer. “When I was younger, there were people who helped me, and now I’m in a position to do the same thing.
“Nick could be a professional triathlete. He’s extremely talented and down to earth, but he’s raw and unpolished. When he actually learns how to ride, it’s going to be ugly for rest of us. It already is, but when he learns when to shift and when to sit down and stand up, look out.”
Coached by Kevin Crossman
Nick qualified for the World Championship by winning his 18-24 age group in an abbreviated Maryland Ironman last October. The swim portion of the event was canceled because of dangerous sea conditions.
But the race still served as qualifier for the world championship, and Nick overcame a large gap with his main age-group rival, ripping off 6-minute miles in the marathon to win by six minutes.
It was his first full Ironman, but between high school and college he tied Mr. Crossman’s course record at Crossman’s own T3 Duathlon (1.5-mile run, 8-mile bike, 1.5-mile run) at SUNY Adirondack.
“He had an old road bike,” Mr. Crossman remembers. “I knew he was a great runner, and saw he had an ability to bike with little or no training. I told him then that when his college career was over, there might be something more waiting for him.”
“All through college,” says Nick, “I had triathlons in the back of my mind. I would cross-train on the bike once a week to complement my running. It kept the spark alive.”
After graduating from Cortland in 2015 and pursuing a master’s degree for a year, he signed up for the Lake Placid Ironman.
Recovers after being hit by a car
“Then I got hit by a car on my bike in May 2016 up near the Warren County Municipal Center,” he said. “That put me out for a month, so I deferred to the Maryland race, and that gave me four extra months to train.
“Once I was healed, I reached out to Kevin. During that month off, I knew I could do something with running and biking, but I can’t swim that well. Up until last May, I would just splash around in the water. I never swam competitively.”
Mr. Crossman, a fellow Cortland graduate, has a company, T3 Coaching, that trains triathletes.
“I write all of his workouts,” the coach says. First focusing on swimming, he refined Nick’s stroke and saw “a vast improvement in his technique and his times. He’s a heck of a better swimmer now than he was.”
Triathlon goal: ‘Win my age group’
The Texas triathlon later this month is good timing for Marcantonio. “It’s more to put some reassurance in our training, and fine-tune everything,” Mr. Crossman said. “It’s an opportunity to put everything together. Time goals aren’t as important.”
When Nick returns to Glens Falls, he’ll have two or three days off before it’s back to training. “We’ll start with a month of maintenance, low-impact efficiency training and then ramp up from there to prepare for the world championship,” Mr. Crossman said.
Nick’s goal? “To win my age group.”
Mr. Crossman says that’s a realistic goal and would mean Nick is the best 18-to-24 year old triathlete in the world.
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