CAPE MAY – Midway through Monday’s 42nd SuperAthalon, as he was rowing along the shoreline past dolphins and seagulls, Cape May lifeguard Rob Moran thought about the person who created the event in 1982.

The triathlon-style race was the brainchild of form Cape May Beach Patrol Captain Harry “Buzz” Mogck, who wanted to stage an event that differed from the traditional lifeguard race format and showcased the talents – running, rowing, swimming – competitors often used on a daily basis.

Mogck passed away June 23 at age 80.

“I thought about him a lot out during the row and the swim,” said Moran, who finished second to Wildwood’s Patrick Clemons. “I was lucky enough to work for Buzz, so this race has always meant a lot to me, especially this year. It would have been great if I had been able to win it, but congrats to Patrick. He had a great race.”

Moran, a four-time SuperAthalon winner, nearly pulled out a victory. Together with Clemons and defending champion Brandon Hontz of Avalon, they staged a thrilling duel during the 2.3-mile run, 1.5-mile row, and quarter-mile swim while hundreds of bystanders cheered.

That group included Clemons’ fellow Wildwood lifeguards and family members such as his wife, Lindsay, and 3-year-old daughter, Summer.

They screamed and clapped as Clemons, who is also a Philadelphia fireman, gave Wildwood its first SuperAthalon champion.

“I finished second the last four times, so it feels great to finally win it,” Clemons said. “Everything went just like I wanted. My plan was to take the lead in the row and then hold on for dear life in the swim against Rob and Brandon.

“I did a lot of preparation for this. I swam this course at least a dozen times in the last month, so I would know what to expect.”

As a result, Clemons used a different strategy in the swim than his two rivals.

Clemons, 44, held a slight lead after the row as they charged up the beach and entered the ocean for the out-and-back swim leg.

While Moran, 35, and Hontz, 25, took a direct route toward the beach after rounding the buoy, Clemons swam more with the current and was carried to the other side of the jetty.

“We all went around the buoy together, but I lost track of Clemons after that,” Moran said. “But I knew Hontz was right with me. We were so close that he was literally touching my toes on the way in.”

While the crowd was focused on Moran and Hontz, Clemons emerged from the water about 50 yards away and sprinted up the beach and crossed the line in 52 minutes, 9 seconds. Moran took second in 52:16, followed by Hontz in 52:25.

Clemons kissed his wife and scooped up his daughter while getting mobbed by the crowd.

Photo courtesy of Dave Weinberg
Photo courtesy of Dave Weinberg

Fans cheered even louder for Harvey Cedars lifeguard Jenna Parker.

The 39-year-old former professional triathlete was the first woman to compete in the open division of the SuperAthalon. She placed fifth among 15 competitors in 58:11.

“I literally entered the race yesterday,” Parker said with a laugh. “I had planned to do it they year they had the women’s division (2021), but I threw my neck out that morning.

“(Harvey Cedars Chief) Randy (Townsend) usually does the race, but he asked if I’d be interested. I said, ‘(Bleep) yeah, I’m down with that.”

Parker, who has won the Cape May Point Women’s Challenge five times, got off to a slow start during the run, which was held on the Cape May Promenade for the first time.

She started the row in the back of the pack, but gradually worked her way into the top 10, then passed more competitors during the swim.

Photo courtesy of Dave Weinberg
Photo courtesy of Dave Weinberg

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Parker said. “I mean, I was going up against a bunch of dudes. But I’m always up for a challenge.  I had a great time. The crowd was great and the event was amazing. This is what we train for every day.”

The race epitomized the vision Mogck had back in the early 1980s, to hold a race that focused on what lifeguards do best.

Even after his retirement a few years ago, he was always attended the SuperAthalon and was planning on going this year.

In a way, he was there Monday.  All of the officials and support staff for the race wore Kelly-Green T-shirts with his name on the sleeve.

“We wore Kelly green shirts because Buzz was a diehard Eagles fan,” Cape May Beach Patrol Chief Harry Back said.  This is a tough time for Cape May and South Jersey lifeguards who knew Buzz because of what he stood for and what he did for everyone. He was a special man in my heart and we wanted to find a way to honor him.”

Another honor will be bestowed.  Starting next year, the race will be named the Harry “Buzz” Mogck Memorial Super Athalon.

10 Favorite Things about Cape May County, NJ

The history of Cape May County predates the formation of the United States of America by about 100 years as it was one of the first counties established in what was originally known as the West New Jersey Provence. Cape May County's historical records go back as far as 1685 and the County was originally established in 1692. Cape May County has been a huge part of my life and that of my family's for decades, so I wanted to share with you my favorite aspects of the southern most County in the state of New Jersey.

Gallery Credit: Josh Hennig/Townsquare Media

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