I Bailed Out of Ironman NY at Jones Beach

Sharon and me at Ironman Village

Leading up to this race, I had put in months of training. For the first time since I began participating in triathlons in 2015, I was averaging a decent 15 mph on my bike. My open-water swimming skills had improved significantly, and my running was starting to bounce back after knee surgery.

Hilary Topper biking

The Relay

I teamed up for a relay with my running buddy, Sharon. She would tackle the run, while I handled the swim and bike segments. I felt confident in my abilities and knew Sharon would complete her part efficiently.

For months, I envisioned myself swimming in Zach’s Bay (my usual swimming spot is Tobay, which has slightly stronger currents) and cycling on the Wantagh Parkway. In fact, I even drove down the parkway to familiarize myself with the course. I felt strong and prepared.

Hilary running on the pier

On Thursday Before Race Day

The days leading to the race were filled with anticipation because of the impending weather.

Upon entering the Ironman Village tent on the Thursday before the race, I was genuinely impressed and excited to be part of this inaugural event. I knew the race director had worked tirelessly to get Ironman to agree to host a race here, and I wanted to support it. Having a race in your own backyard is indeed something special.

Sharon and me at Ironman Village

After the mandatory meeting, Sharon and I collected our packets, bags, and t-shirts, and then browsed through the Ironman store. The fact that Ironman was taking place in my town, all thanks to Corey Roberts, the visionary race director, was incredibly exhilarating.

Day before Race

However, the day before the race was not without its hiccups. I had planned to test out both my road bike and tri bike at Jones Beach, but a flat tire on my car disrupted my plans. Despite my plea to expedite the tire repair due to my upcoming Ironman 70.3 event, I spent three hours anxiously waiting at the Mercedes service center in Hempstead.

By the time I got home, it was already 3 p.m. I hastily grabbed my tri bike and road bike, only to realize that the latter wasn’t charged. With time ticking away, I had to forego my practice swim and head straight to Jones Beach to rack my tri bike in the transition area.

Upon arrival at Jones Beach, I was greeted by strong winds. Doubts started to creep in. Despite the reassurances from my training buddy, Ray, I couldn’t shake off my anxiety. After racking my bike and collecting my timing chip, I tried to stay positive, hoping for better weather on race day.

Race Day – September 23, 2023

But race day proved to be just as challenging. The drive to Jones Beach was a nightmare due to heavy traffic, turning a usual 15-minute drive into an hour-long ordeal. By the time I arrived, I had only 10 minutes before the transition area closed. Many participants were still stuck in traffic, unable to make it in time.

With a heavy heart, I decided not to race. I collected my soaked bike, handed in my chip, and left the race site.


Despite my disappointment, I found solace in the company of local Long Island celebrities Bob from Runner’s Edge and Jose Lopez. Their affirmations that I made the right decision meant a lot to me.

Hilary Topper with Bob fro Runners edge and Jose Lopez

I even found myself comforting a professional triathlete who had also decided to withdraw from the race.

While I felt a tinge of sadness about my decision to drop out, I was ultimately glad I did. I wanted this race to be a positive experience, and I didn’t want to feel miserable for 5 hours.

More Races to Follow

And the beautiful thing about this sport is that there’s always another race.

Swim start at Ironman NY

In fact, next week, I’m planning on participating in the Mighty Man Montauk with EventPower LI. And the journey doesn’t stop there. The Key West Triathlon with Integrity Multisport and the Alpha Win Sarasota Tri are on my list as well.

One setback doesn’t mean the end; in triathlon, there is always another opportunity to prove yourself.

Congratulations to the Finishers!

I want to extend my heartfelt congratulations to everyone who started and/or completed the race.

It was a challenging day, and every single one of you showed incredible resilience and determination. Your dedication to this sport is truly inspiring.

ironman swim start

Despite my personal setback, watching your triumphs reminded me why I love this sport so much. Every race, every challenge, every setback is just another step in our journey as triathletes.

Here’s to many more races and shared experiences in the future! Love you all!