Old Montauk Athletic Club’s Award Winners for 2015
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Erik Engstrom, Barbara Gubbins, Theresa Roden, and Nick Lemon were feted at OMAC’s holiday dinner at the South Fork Country Club in Amagansett.
By Jack Graves | December 31, 2015 – 2:26pm
There were four honorees at the Old Montauk Athletic Club’s recent holiday awards dinner at the South Fork Country Club in Amagansett — Barbara Gubbins, Theresa Roden, Nick Lemon, and Erik Engstrom.
Gubbins was named as the club’s female athlete of the year; Lemon, one of her Gubbins Running Ahead store employees, a former Stony Brook University runner, was picked as OMAC’s male athlete of the year; Roden, who oversees the popular I-Tri (Transformation Through Triathlon) program for teenage girls, was the community service awardee, and Engstrom, the first county cross-country champion ever to come out of East Hampton High School, was the recipient of the club’s youth athlete-of-the-year award, which included a $500 book scholarship. It was the first time the club had included a high school athlete among its award winners.
Gubbins, who, at 55, can invariably be found among the top three female finishers in local road races, and who even won one outright, the Rotary Club 5K, this summer, didn’t start out as a runner, she said during a conversation this week.
“I never ran in high school,” the East Setauket native said. “I played field hockey, volleyball, basketball, and softball, and captained all those teams. You could play four sports then. My favorite was basketball, but I wasn’t tall enough to play at James Madison, which was where I went to college. I began running there in my sophomore year, after I’d beaten all the runners in a 6-mile Turkey Trot.”
“Field hockey season was over, so I went out for winter track, and qualified for the nationals in the 5,000. I finished 13th, in 17:02. Nike sponsored me. In the spring, I was sixth in the national outdoor 10,000, in 34:30, but it was hard to run. I had an injury that affected my hip and back. It was painful. I don’t know what it was — there were no M.R.I.’s then. Then, that summer I met Justin [her husband, a former top distance runner at Georgetown] at the Shelter Island 10K. He won it . . . in 31-something. Burke Koncelik [of East Hampton] won too.”
The honoree, who, in 1988, was to open in Southampton the first of what were to become four Gubbins Running Ahead stores, said she subsequently transferred from James Madison to Stony Brook University’s nursing school, from which she graduated in 1985, having become a mother and a Division III all-American in cross-country and track.
In later years, she served as a Southampton Town councilwoman, filling a one-year vacancy, and for five years as a member of the Southampton School District’s board of education, three of which she spent as its president.
Asked how she ranked nationally in her age group, Gubbins, who has a daughter, Megan, and a son, Geary, said, “In the top 10 percent . . . I won my age group in the New York half-marathon in the spring, and I’ve won my age group the past five years in the New Orleans Rock ’n’ Roll half.”
She finds the longer distances more to her liking, she said, in reply to a question. “The shorter distances are more difficult.”
Despite that, she won, as aforesaid, the Rotary Club’s 5K, in 20:42.22, last August, and placed third among the females in Ellen’s Run, in 19:45, soon after.
Lemon, 23, who has worked with Gubbins Running Ahead since the summer of 2014, won Ellen’s Run, in a record-setting 15:54. He also won this summer’s Bridgehampton half-marathon, as well as Andy’s Run, the Flying Point 5K, and Christopher’s Run.
“That was supposed to be a 5K,” he said of the latter race during a recent conversation. “But I lost sight of the lead vehicle, which disappeared, and everyone followed me. It ended up being about four miles, I think.”
A health care management major when at Stony Brook, where he ran cross-country and long-distance races in track, Lemon, who manages the Gubbinses’ Nike store in East Hampton, and who represents its Distance Project team, said he’d rather be running.
He grew up in Middletown, Conn., where he went to Xavier High School, whose cross-country team was a state power. Here, he’s managed to combine work and training — about 40 hours a week, mostly in Sag Harbor, where he lives, but also including early-morning track workouts at East Hampton High School.
Theresa Roden, the club’s community service award winner, began the I-Tri program for girls here in 2010, combining triathlon training with motivational work whose aim is to boost young women’s confidence.
The program, which is in numerous schools on the South Fork, is the subject of a doctoral thesis whose author, Jen Gatz, an exercise physiologist and advanced placement high school biology teacher, has posited a link between it and improved science, math, and English scores.
Roden has described I-Tri as “a community-based intervention program for at-risk adolescent girls that fosters self-respect, personal empowerment, self-confidence, positive body image, and healthy lifestyle choices.”
In an email this week, she said, “We started I-Tri with eight girls at the Springs School, and this year we will have approximately 80 girls from four East End middle schools (Springs, Montauk, Sag Harbor, and Southampton).”
“Last year we moved our race [from Maidstone Park in Springs] to Long Beach in Noyac, where it will be held again on Thursday, July 14. It’s open to girls and boys ages 10 to 17, who can register and get more information on our website, itrigirls.org.”
“This coming year,” she continued, “will be a big one for us in terms of strategic growth. We have hired two program leaders who will train this entire season, after which they’ll lead our established programs and assist with our expansion into the East Hampton Middle School and William Floyd in 2017.”
“In order to accomplish this expansion and to continue delivering the award-winning program to our girls, we are also looking to grow our board of directors and attract additional sponsors and donors.”
On I-Tri’s web page it says that a donation of $20 a month will provide a bicycle for one of its participants, that $10 a month will provide running shoes, and that $5 a month will provide swim gear.
I-Tri’s Turbo-Tri super-sprint triathlon for competitors 17 and up is to be held Saturday, June 18.
Roden added that I-Tri is one of the Long Island Imagine Awards’ nonprofit semifinalists, in the Rising Star category. That division’s winner — to be announced in the coming year — is to receive a $5,000 grant.