NEWBURYPORT — Having returned to triathlon competition last year after spending six years away from the sport, Newburyport’s Sean McCarthy says he’s entering this week’s Triathlon World Championships in London with renewed motivation and strength.
Seven years ago, McCarthy, a physics teacher at Newburyport High School, was racing at the highest level. He finished fourth in the Florida Ironman Triathlon in 2006.
But the heavy demands of training and satisfying national sponsors took their toll, and McCarthy decided he needed a break.
“I was sponsored by Amino Vital (an energy drink/bar company) for five years and got burnt out from having to get big results every year,” he said. “Training and competing in the Ironman put me over the edge. I really got sick of the pressure and didn’t enjoy it anymore.”
With encouragement and support from his girlfriend, local ultra-marathon racer Maddy Hribar, the joy of competing has been restored for McCarthy.
“Maddy got me into ultra-marathons last year when I met her. I’ve never done just a marathon, but I’ve done four ultra marathons in the past year,” said McCarthy, who lives in Newburyport and grew up in the Bronx, N.Y. “I had never done just a running race before that, and I never thought I’d ever do a marathon. I’ve now done a couple of 50K (31-mile) races, and I paced Maddy for 40 miles in her first 100-miler (the Pine Creek Challenge in Pennsylvania last September), which she won overall and posted the 15th fastest time in the world for women.”
After devoting his six post-triathlon years to cycling, McCarthy made a resounding re-entry to the triathlon stage last year with a first-place finish, followed by two top-3 efforts, and a victory in his first-ever Xterra event, which consists of an off-road swim, mountain bike and trail run.