Challenging themselves physically and mentally

Hewlett residents to compete in third Ironman Triathlon


Cary Epstein and Jay Greenbaum, both Hewlett residents, along with Steven Gartenstein of Hewlett Harbor, are preparing to compete in their third Ironman Triathlon on July 28.

The trio will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles at the Lake Placid-based event. “The Ironman Triathlon is named ‘the grand daddy of all endurance races,’ it is hands down the toughest one-day endurance event in the world,” Epstein said. “It tests both your physical and mental limitations; it’s not for the faint of heart.”

Having competed in his first triathlon 13 years ago, Cary Epstein couldn’t have imagined he would still be participating. “The last 13 years have been an incredible journey for me in the sport of triathlons,” he said. “I never thought I would do another triathlon after the first race and here I am about to go into my third Ironman.”

Epstein, a former health education teacher and head coach of the girl’s varsity swimming and diving team as well as assistant coach for the boy’s swimming and diving team at Hewlett High School, is also a member of the 40-person Ironman Triathlon Team. “I filled out an application just for fun; I didn’t think I had a shot in hell,” he said. Two months went by and I received a phone call from them saying I had been chosen from thousands of applicants across the U.S. I was in shock and I couldn’t be more excited to be apart of such an incredible group and give back to the Ironman Communities who host our races.”

Greenbaum participated in an Ironman Triathlon last August in Manhattan and again in March in Melbourne, Australia. He’s competed in 25 triathlons over the past eight years. “I enjoy the multi-sport discipline,” he said. “Rather than simply focusing on one sport, having to become proficient in all three components: swimming, biking and running, breaks up the monotony to a degree.”

Gartenstein has competed in more than 30 races. “My first triathlon was an Olympic distance triathlon in Montauk,” he said. “The weather was terrible and the water was very cold but I had a great time and I was hooked on racing and the competition.”

By working to build his speed, endurance and learning the proper nutrition, Gartenstein is able to perform at his best. “It takes several years of training for your body to really adjust to the heavy volume training that the Ironman demands,” he said. “Compared to when I started, I now truly understand what it takes to do this and can achieve my full potential.”

Though all three enjoy the competition aspect of triathlons, they also like to challenge themselves. “I have learned that anything is possible if I just put my mind to it,” Epstein said. “There are two kinds of people in the world; those who say ‘I can’t’ and those who say ‘I can.’”

Raising more than $250,000 for numerous causes and not-for-profit organizations propels Greenbaum. “Over the years, whether it was a triathlon or one of the many marathons I’ve done, I have always used the event as an excuse to support a cause and ask people to support me and the cause,” he said.

Gartenstein said triathlons give him a goal to aim for. “I compete because it’s a great distraction from life’s challenges and it forces you to stay in the moment,” he said. “The long course racing isn’t just a physical challenge but a mental challenge as well and I love being in the moment for the entire day.”