Steamboat champion faces charges

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Delbert Marriott left quite an impression at the Steamboat Classic triathlon on April 24 in Cape Girardeau.

He won the swimming, cycling and running event in a time of 1 hour, 16 minutes and 35 seconds, less than 3 minutes off the course record.

"He's a heck of an athlete, and he was a bit cocky," said Chad Sierman, who directed the race for the Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation Department. "At the awards ceremony, he wanted to get up and talk about the triathlon club he was starting. He gave a 10- or 15-minute spiel, and he challenged anybody to come back next year and try to stop him from smashing the record.

"I don't see that happening anytime soon."

Marriott probably won't be back at the Steamboat Classic. He accomplished his victory while allegedly on unauthorized leave from the Marine Corps.

He was apprehended May 4 at Central Municipal Pool by the Cape Girardeau Police Department, working in cooperation with the Marine Corps.

Sierman, who had been contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation not long after the triathlon, in fact notified authorities of Marriott's presence at the pool that day.

Marriott was arrested and returned to Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he is in the prison awaiting court-martial. Motions are set for Wednesday -- at which time Marriott can opt for a trial by his peers in the military or by judge. The trial is scheduled for July 19 and 20.

Marriott faces charges of desertion, unauthorized absence, false official statement and conduct unbecoming a Marine officer, which includes failing to pay just debts, improper relationships with a married woman not his wife and falsifying official documents.

Marriott, a Marine Corps captain who was working temporarily as a trainer at a swimming pool at Camp Johnson on Camp LeJeune, N.C., was declared a deserter on April 1, according the Marine Corps public information office. His current contract with the Marines began Nov. 3, 2001.

"He was the only Marine officer in desertion status in the Marine Corps at the time," said Maj. Neil Murphy, public information officer for the Marine Corps at Camp Lejuene.

Marriott, who was listed as a native of Blodgett, Mo., in a May 2004 Columbia Tribune story on his participation in a triathlon there, didn't keep too low of a profile.

He had made his presence known to Sierman during the month of April as a top contender for the Steamboat Classic triathlon. Marriott trained for the event at Central Municipal Pool.

"He came to the pool all the time to train for the thing," Sierman said. "He told me he was done with the Marines, and he was going to try to get a triathlon club going."

Marriott, who had the best time for a 5-kilometer run in the All Marine Sports Regional Running Program in 2003, won the Steamboat Classic by 3 minutes.

"That was a tough, tough race, but that's what makes for a good race," Marriott told the Southeast Missourian after the run.

He turned down the first-place award.

"I just go for exhibition," Marriott said after the race. "This was just a practice, just to promote the sport of triathlon. But next year, next year I'm guaranteeing a record."

Marriott's success was part of his undoing. Marine Corps officials were notified of Southeast Missourian newspaper articles detailing Marriott's victory.

The FBI contacted Sierman, the director of the aquatics center for the Cape Parks and Recreation Department. Sierman notified his lifeguards that Marriott was sought by authorities.

A member of the pool's staff contacted Sierman, who was at Arena Park, on May 4 when Marriott arrived.

"He was swimming laps," Sierman said. "I called the FBI and by the time I got back to the pool, three police cars were already there.

"Our lifeguard pointed out who he was, and during the middle of junior high classes and swimnastics, they handcuffed him in his Speedos, took him out and drove him away."

The St. Louis Track Club Web site's report on the Steamboat Classic said that Marriott and his wife, Brooke, had recently relocated to Cape Girardeau from North Carolina.

No Marriotts are listed in telephone directories for Cape Girardeau, Blodgett or Sikeston.

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