CAMBRIDGE — Matthew Bach, 28, of Summit, N.J., was the first finisher Saturday in the first Maryland Ironman, covering 140 miles in 8 hours, 51 minutes and 19 seconds.
Nathan Rickman of Fairfax, Va., finished second five minutes later and Lauren Capone of Santa Barbara, Calif., was the first woman to finish the race, in 9 hours and 26 minutes.
Several hours later people along the downtown run route were still cheering on triathletes as they completed the 26.2-mile run that was the final leg of the event. Spectators continued cheering on triathletes at the finish line at Long Wharf Park until the race closed at midnight.
Of the 1,494 athletes who started the triathlon 7 a.m. Saturday by wading into the Choptank River, 1,380 completed the course, which began from Great Marsh Park with a 2.2-mile swim in the Choptank, followed by 112 miles of bicycling through South Dorchester and then the 26.2-mile run through Cambridge.
Maryland Ironman drew participants from 17 countries and 48 states.
“It’s a great course,” Bach said of the first Maryland Ironman, pronouncing it “an awesome event.” With seasonal temperatures remaining under 90, little wind and no rain, Bach said the flat cycling and running courses were ideal.
“I hit just about every goal I had today,” Bach said after crossing the finish line.
The swim in the Choptank Saturday morning, with the water temperature at 74 degrees was “a little rough,” Bach said, “and choppy.”
Dorchester’s first Maryland Ironman replaces the former ChesapeakeMan full triathlon which was held here each September.
When the Columbia Triathlon Association was no longer able to organize June’s Eagleman half triathlon here or the ChesapeakeMan, the World Triathlon Association agreed to take over both events, which is how the first Maryland Ironman was created.
Registration has already opened for next year’s Maryland Ironman, scheduled Oct. 3, 2015, according to Maryland Ironman Race Director Gerry Boyle. The registration fee is $650 to participate, $50 more than the fee for this year’s event.
“The athletes have overwhelming fallen in love with our community,” Boyle said Sunday morning following an awards ceremony at the Hyatt Chesapeake Resort which saw the distribution of 30 slots for the 2015 Ironman in Hawaii.
The first Ironman was held in 1978 in Hawaii with 15 competitors to determine whether runners or swimmers were better athletes, with a cycling race added to up the odds. In a few years, the World Triathlon Association was formed to organize one of the world’s greatest athletic challenges.
Today there are Ironman races held throughout the world, with Dorchester one of 12 full triathlons licensed by the WTC in North America.
A $100,000 license fee was paid to the WTC by local government and private donors to hold Ironman Maryland in Dorchester County. Dorchester has the fee locked in at $100,000 for five years, Boyle said, adding that it is the lowest licensing fee paid to WTC by communities throughout the world.
In addition to a big boost to the local economy, the event also saw the donation of $45,000 by the Ironman Foundation to local organizations including volunteer fire companies, school teams and other organizations which manned aide stations during the event. That includes $10,000 donated to the Dorchester YMCA.
Maryland Ironman also helps the WTC provide a full triathlon in the Mid-Atlantic region, filling a gap between upstate New York and Florida’s Gulf Coast, other spots where full triathlons are held.
“We’re in the middle of one of the nation’s largest demographics for triathletes,” Boyle said.
Within the Ironman online community, some triathletes suggest Dorchester’s run and cycling routes are too easy because of the flat terrain. It may be the reason some opted for the Lake Tahoe Ironman which had been set for Sunday in California, but had to be cancelled due to smoke from wildfires.