For most athletes who competed in , crossing the finish line meant a surreal feeling of accomplishment—and a bundle of sore muscles.
For Dave Nazaroff, though, finishing the 140-mile race meant accolades of a different sort: a trip to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii come October.
Nazaroff, a 46-year-old Upper Nyacker and owner of in Upper Nyack, placed 79th overall and fourth in his age bracket, snagging a ticket to the Hawaii finals. His bracket included racers between the ages of 45 and 49.
Nazaroff finished the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile marathon in 10 hours, one minute and 26 seconds.
"It was my best time by 40 minutes," said Nazaroff, who has competed in six previous Ironman races. "All the stars were aligned, my family was there and friends were [racing alongside me] on the parkway."
Nazaroff's wife, six-year-old daughter, sister and brother-in-law were waiting at the finish line. "It was incredible to see their faces," Nazaroff said. "They can't talk now, they're so hoarse from screaming."
For Nazaroff, the Ironman's location—with the cycling portion slicing through Rockland on the Palisades Parkway's south-bound lane—was cardinal.
"It's amazing doing it on your own turf," he said. "I've driven that road a million times. I was so happy—I knew every pothole on the parkway."
While some racers were utterly unfamiliar with the area, like the athletes hailing from Italy, Belgium or Australia, navigating Rockland's roadway was a matter of course for Nazaroff. He also owns two bike shops in Manhattan, and commutes down the Palisades several times a week.
Nazaroff described the bike portion as "a blast," but the other legs proved more trying. "The swim was fast because of the current, but the run was brutal—it was very hilly," he said.
The idea of racing alongside friends and neighbors invigorated Nazaroff, though. "I had so many friends from Rockland competing," he said. "For the swim, we all jumped off the ferry and into the water at the same time."
(Over one dozen Rocklanders competed—for a list, scroll to the bottom of the story.)
The uninitiated may image Ironman racers spending the following day in a vat of ice, or eating Michael Phelps-portions of protein, but Nazaroff says not so.
"Life goes on," he noted. "I'm at work on Monday. Everyone is back at work, back to normal. My friends are exchanging battle stories, [but] then it's on to the next thing."
Still, a hearty meal is crucial after a grueling 10-hour race, and Nazaroff had his back in Nyack—at downtown, his daughter's favorite pizza place.
"I had a sausage parmesan, and it was awesome," he said.
Nazaroff says he will "take it easy" on the heels of Saturday's arduous trek, but his definition of "easy" is subjective. This weekend he will run a triathlon, and squeeze in a half-Ironman in Nevada before heading to Hawaii in the fall.
"If you work hard and keep plugging away, it works out," he said.
In this case, hard work means about four years of dedicated preparation. Nazaroff began running triathlons about four years ago. During a lapse in training, he watched a friend finish a race at Rockland Lake State Park, beaming.
"It inspired me to start again," he said. "I got the bug."
Last May, Nazaroff ran the Utah Ironman, but was disappointed with the outcome. "It was brutal, tough," he said. "But this time I was determined to make it happen."
Saturday's success qualifies Nazaroff for the World Championship, slated for October 13 in Kona, Hawaii, a region that has housed the race for decades. Only about 75 athletes from the New York race made the cut.
"Kona is like the Superbowl," Nazaroff said. "You have to qualify."
And while October's race will be just as lengthy and feature stiffer competition, Nazaroff remains confident.
"Whenever I want to stop, I just think about my family," he said. "I'm so blessed."
Other Rockland racers (all finished)
Kate Tormey - Pearl River
William Carpenter - Stony Point
Mitchell Pollack - Suffern
Kiriakos "Kirk" Theofanides - Nyack
Bruce Yang - West Nyack
Tolun Tuglu - Nyack
George Glum - New City
Gravity Goldberg - South Nyack
Peter Jameson - New City
Chris Gebhardt and Katy Roberts - Upper Nyack (husband and wife)
Patti Weil - Suffern
Neal Wilkinson - Cornwall (Orange County)
Jeff Vizethann - Cornwall (Orange County)