Friday, December 9, 2022

First Ironman 70.3 brings champions — and a marriage proposal — to James City County

NYPD Officer and athlete im Stamm hugs his fiancee Nicole Sweeney after proposing to her with the help of her young son Sunday. (WYDaily/Alexa Doiron)
New York City Police officer and athlete Tim Stamm hugs his fiancee Nicole Sweeney after proposing to her with the help of her young son Sunday. (WYDaily/Alexa Doiron)

On Sunday, Ironman competitors came out to Chickahominy Riverfront Park to shed sweat, tears and even a little bit of love.

Athletes lined up at 6:50 a.m. to start their 1.2-mile swim before heading to the 56-mile bike ride and the 13.1-mile run. For some, it was all about scoring a personal best as they checked their stopwatches and monitored their pace.

For others, it was the start of a new life.

Tim Stamm, an New York City police officer, finished his race then grabbed an engagement ring to propose to his girlfriend, Nicole Sweeney. As Sweeney approached the finish line about 45 minutes later, she was out of breath not only from the final leg of the race, but from the banner reading “Nicole… Will you marry me?” that greeted her.

Beside Stamm was Sweeney’s son, holding a bouquet of roses and wearing a white shirt that said “Mommy say yes!” Sweeney hugged him as Stamm placed the engagement ring on her finger. When she looked at her son a few minutes later, his shirt had been changed to a blue one reading “Mommy said yes.”

Stamm and his fiancee are members of the New York Police Department Triathlon Team, which had 11 athletes competing Sunday at the Ironman 70.3 Virginia.

Stamm is the president of the team, which travels to two or three races across the country every year to give back to families of first responders who are in need.

“We have some pretty amazing stories on this team,” Stamm said.

This is the first year the Ironman 70.3 has been hosted in James City County, bringing in nearly 2,000 athletes from 44 states and 11 countries. The diversity of competitors is what made the day unique and for some, it meant making new friends to hold hands with as they jumped into the Chickahominy River.

The race puts the health and safety of athletes first, keeping regular snack locations, making sure plenty of water is on hand and even providing a pumping area for breastfeeding mothers.

Despite the constant drizzle throughout most of the race, competitors gritted their teeth and raced toward the finish line cheered on by family and friends.

Johnny Sicat, of Richmond, and his family went through the grueling race as a relay team. Sicat, his brother and brother-in-law each took a different section of the race, calling themselves “The Brochachos.”

Sicat’s portion was the swimming leg and after he was done, he watched his brother compete in the bike race.

“It’s nice I get to root them on,” Sicat said. “Now I’m very relaxed and I just get to be excited to see them do it.”

The fastest of the bunch was Philippe Tremblay, completing the entire race with a time of 4 hours, 12 minutes and 55 seconds.

Despite a couple hang-ups — including dropping his “nutrient” snack in the first five miles of the bike segment — he said he was overall pleased with his performance.

The 26-year-old said he hoped his results would qualify him for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Nice, France.

The first female finisher, Alexandra Watt, completed the race 28 minutes and 7 seconds behind Tremblay.

At 27 years old, Watt is originally from Northern Virginia but now lives in San Diego.

“When I heard there was an Ironman here, I signed up because I’m from Virginia,” Watt said.

This is Watt’s second year competing in triathlons. While attending college at Virginia Tech, she ran long-distance.

Her mother and teammates from college attended the race to cheer Watt on.

As other athletes came through the final stretch of the race, medals awaited them and volunteers cheered. And for most, a grin spread across their faces just as they ran under the finish line banner, knowing they could call themselves an Ironman.

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doironhttp://wydaily.com
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at alexa@localvoicemedia.com.

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