Guts and glory on display at OBSE Triathlon

By on September 18, 2022

Olympic Triathlon competitors take to the water as the race begins.
Bikers crossing the Manns Harbor Bridge.
Overall top finisher Oreste Pesselato running along the Roanoke Island path.
Overall top finisher Oreste Pesselato with friends and family.
Top woman’s finisher in the Olympic Division Olivia Gonzalez of Milwaukee, WI crosses the finish line with a time of 2:31:29.
Noel Preston on the winner’s podium after taking first place in his division.
Triathlon sprint competitors take to the water at the beginning of the race.
Sprint top finisher Adam Burke of Raleigh, NC running along the Roanoke Island path.
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With competitors coming from as far away as Utah, Oklahoma and St. Louis, the 2022 Outer Banks Triathlon garnered widespread praise for the course and its organization by Outer Banks Sporting Events (OBSE).

“It was set up very well. It was a great course,” Oreste Pesselato said. Pesselato, from St. Louis, was the top finisher overall in the Olympic division, finishing the course in 2:11:08. Thomas Stracey of Greensboro was next across the finish line with a time of 02:23:43.

For Pesselato, the race was a long-planned get together with friends. Greg and Christin Evans of Southern Shores told him about the race and he and Joe Cuba, with Cuba’s wife and family, gathered for the race. “My friends told me about this. We started planning this six months ago,” he said.

The divisions in a triathlon can seem confusing. The OBSE course uses two of the seven generally recognized divisions. The Olympic format is a 1.5 km swim (.93 miles), a 40 km bike run (25 miles) and a 10 km (6.2 mile) run. The other division is the Sprint division and is half those distances.

The Olympic competitors hit the water at 7:15 a.m. at the Old Swimming Hole by the Dare County Regional Airport. The sun had just popped above to horizon as the starting horn sounded. “The water temperature was perfect,” former Kitty Hawk Elementary School principal Dr. Greg Florence said.

Florence, who said that he had more time to put into training since he retired at the end of June, finished fifth overall and first in his Masters division with a time of 2:30:51. He did discount his finish somewhat, pointing out that after two years of COVID restrictions, participation was down.

This year, slightly more than 200 competitors combined in the Olympic and Sprint divisions took up the challenge. In the past, 600 or more triathletes have competed on the Outer Banks course.

Florence and Pesselato felt one of the more challenging legs of the race was the 25-mile bike ride that crossed the Manns Harbor Bridge, passed through Manns Harbor and then back to old US 64.

“It’s funny. The bridge scares people, but it’s board flat. It has a little hill in it. The wind plays a role. It’s quite a nice little eight or nine (mph) head wind heading back over the bridge,” Florence said, adding, “Here the ride is always going to be challenging.”

Pesselato agreed, saying, “The bike was tough. I knew it was going to be hard, with [the] wind. I wasn’t concerned about the course with undulations, but I was concerned about the wind. Just how exposed you are. It did not disappoint.”

A triathlon is considered one of the more challenging distance races, and for quite a number of competitors, simply finishing is the reward. But for Martins Point resident Noel Preston, the Outer Banks Triathlon was a chance to come back from life-changing medical conditions. At almost 75 years of age, he was the oldest competitor in the Sprint division. Not quite two years ago, he was just completing treatment for cancer.

“I’ve had cancer twice, I’ve had open heart surgery,” he said. “I finished chemo in December of 2020.”

Preston has competed in a number of triathlons over the years; the last time he competed in the Outer Banks Triathlon was 2019. For him, the road back involved patience and a process.

“You exercise regularly anyway. The triathlon exercises different parts of your body,” Preston said. “It takes time. For me, the key is don’t push it like I did when I was younger because it takes so long to recover from an injury.”

Below is a list of the top three finishers in each division.

Men’s Olympic

Oreste Pesselato 02:11:08.3 St. Louis, MO

Thomas Stracey 02:23:43.3 Greensboro, NC

Eric Wetzel 02:26:26.7 Richmond, VA


Women’s Olympic

Olivia Gonzalez 02:31:29.3 Milwaukee, WI

Joni Johnson 02:32:23.5 Concord, NC

Nancy Placide 02:34:11.8 Midlothian, VA


Men’s Sprint

Adam Burke 01:13:03.3 Raleigh, NC

Stephen Fox 01:19:30.1 Raleigh, NC

Anders Jacobson 01:25:13.7 Raleigh, NC


Women’s Sprint

Kathryn Moeder 01:21:54.3 Chesapeake, VA

Danielle Foster 01:24:37.6 Kitty Hawk, NC

Emily Neuburg     01:26:21.0 Suffolk, VA

For more information about Outer Banks Sporting Events please visit





  • Glenn

    Congratulations to all!!!

    Sunday, Sep 18 @ 1:18 pm
  • Liz

    Anders Jacobson, who placed third in the men’s sprint, is a local “kid”, having graduated from FFHS in 2009. Congratulations!

    Monday, Sep 19 @ 6:28 am
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