Stephen Del Monte was on vacation last November in Naples, Fla.,
when he had an idea.
After successfully organizing the annual Tri/Run The Wildwoods
triathlon for seven years, the 34-year-old Wildwood Crest native
was ready to do more.
“Atlantic City doesn’t have anything,” he told his wife, Jamie,
“and it’s right up the road.”
Two phone calls later, the Atlantic City International Triathlon
The inaugural event, set to start at 7 a.m. Sunday, will feature
more than 400 people competing in a 1-mile ocean swim from Albany
Avenue to Mississippi Avenue, a 22-mile bicycle ride on the
Atlantic City Expressway, and a 10-kilometer run on the Boardwalk,
ending at Bally’s Atlantic City.
“The atmosphere up there, with all the big buildings, all the
casinos and the skyline, you’re swimming in the Atlantic City
ocean, you run on the famous Boardwalk up there, biking on the
Expressway, I just think it’s going to be a totally different
experience from all the other local sprints that we do,” said
competitor Roger Lillo, a 38-year-old police officer from Wildwood
who has raced everywhere from South Jersey to Miami to Las
As race director, Del Monte has put hundreds of hours of
preparation into the event, coordinating with the city’s Beach
Patrol and police, the South Jersey Transportation Authority, and
Boardwalk Hall officials, among others.
But it all started with one phone call that he wasn’t even sure
would get him anywhere.
After the conversation with his wife, Del Monte called Ken
Calemmo, a fellow member of the Advisory Board at Wildwood Catholic
High School, from which Del Monte graduated in 1995. He asked
Calemmo, who also serves on several Atlantic City committees, whom
he should contact about having a race in Atlantic City.
Minutes later, Calemmo called back and referred him to Maureen
Siman, vice president of marketing for the Atlantic City Convention
& Visitors Authority, who immediately helped start the process
of getting permits for the city’s first triathlon. It turned out
Siman was a triathlete herself.
“I’ll tell you, I got lucky with an opportunity,” Del Monte
said. “I made one phone call, to Ken. He made one phone call. You
have a triathlon.
“Generally, these things do not happen this way. ... We said,
‘Hey, we think this is a great idea.’ They said, ‘Yes, it is. Let’s
Competitor Susan Reich, of Ocean City, said she has entered
numerous runs, swims, and biathlons in Atlantic City. But she never
thought anyone would be able to get roads closed off for bikes.
“I was scared of the tunnel. I said, ‘What are they, crazy?’”
said Reich, 53, who works in the information technology department
at Harrah’s Resort. “But it sounds pretty cool. When you think
about it, they’re going to have it blocked off.”
The bike portion will consist of two loops from the inside of
Boardwalk Hall to Exit 4 of the Expressway, then back into Atlantic
City, through the Atlantic City/Brigantine Connector and back to
Boardwalk Hall. Competitors will ride on the shoulder, with the
right lane closed as a buffer from traffic. The tunnel will be
closed to all traffic.
After depositing their bikes back on the floor of the Hall,
competitors will run on the Boardwalk to Ventnor. They will turn
around at South Oakland Avenue, run back past the Hall to the Revel
casino site, turn again at New Hampshire Avenue, and finally run to
the finish at Bally’s.
“Once people use Boardwalk Hall and The Pier as their markers,
riding their bikes on the Atlantic City Expressway, you have
something that no other place in the country has,” Del Monte said.
“There’s so much scenery. You’re not just running on a country road
here. You’re running past history.
“We will make this into the event to do along the Jersey
Competitors believe the event will succeed and grow over the
next few years because Del Monte is a triathlete himself, even
though he does not compete in the races he runs.
“He has a little better insight on all the little things than
maybe someone who doesn’t really (compete in) triathlons would
miss,” Lillo said.
Del Monte, a former baseball player at York College of
Pennsylvania, got involved with triathlons when he worked as a
lifeguard for the North Wildwood Beach Patrol in 1999.
He was immediately hooked and competed in events across the
country. But in 2003, he had a bad experience at one race that made
him think. “I said, ‘Before someone does this in my hometown and
screws up, I want to do this,’” he said.
The Wildwood triathlon last month drew 539 entrants in its
Reich said that in her experience as a competitor, the most
important thing has been simply having enough volunteers.
For that, Del Monte has enlisted the help of several local
Nicole Troast, a den leader for the fourth-grade Webelos Cub
Scouts in Northfield, will bring her 9-year-old son, Nikolas, and a
few other scouts to work at a water table.
“We’re always looking for the chance to volunteer for anything,”
Troast said. “I think they’re going to love it. One of the things
we emphasize in scouting is exercise, and there’s no better way of
Del Monte plans for the Atlantic City Triathlon to still be
around when those scouts get older. He expects it to become a
staple alongside the Atlantic City Marathon, which will be held for
the 53rd year Oct. 16.
“Atlantic City is the marquee city on the Jersey Shore,” Del
Monte said. “Putting a triathlon in Atlantic City puts just another
feather in the cap of the amenities and events that it offers.
Atlantic City is home to the third-oldest marathon in the country,
so it does have a history. And the triathlon’s here to stay.”
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