Saturday, April 5, 2008

Santee State Park Challenge 2008 Off Road Triathlon

Originally posted on the trailblazer adventure racing forums

Another great day of Racing today for the Santee State Park Challenge. This was the final race in the three race Challenge IV racing series. Despite morning thunderstorms with lightening, the race started with only a short delay. Chris and Lisa put together an excellent event that was made even better with the unpredictable weather. Big thanks to the Williams and the great sponsors of the series. Also big thanks to those who braved the stormy weather to volunteer their valuable time to make this event happen.

While the field was not as full as the previous two events, the competition was as stiff as ever. Series contenders Chuck Hiers and Adam DeWitt were on hand as well as series 3rd place Steve Anstoetter - and believe it or not series fourth place - ME! On the ladies side, series 1st and 2nd place Katie Felton and Theresa Dawson were ready for the final showdown.

Several trailblazers were on hand - I met both Bill Jordan and Dwight Shuler. While they were not contenders for the series bragging rights, they were definitely contenders for the day's bragging rights.

The weather was not extremely pleasant for the start of the race, but it certainly was not at the level of the Checkpoint Zero race! The course was very wet and intermittent showers kept the racers cool. During the paddle we even had a brief spot of sun (I think this is when Chris called in a favor from the big guy upstairs).

Two events were offered at this race. A short course and a long course. The short course was 3mi, 3mi, 7 mi and the long course was 7 mi, 6 mi, 10 mi (trail run, kayak, mt bike respectively). Most competitors opted for the long course, but a fair number tested themselves on the short course.

The run was out and back for what I measured to be 7.6 miles (to the kayak put-in). My personal rhythm was thrown when I had to stop shortly into the run to re-tie my shoes! What a rookie mistake - I failed to double knot the laces! Maybe half a dozen people passed me when I stopped, and that is always tough to take! I managed to re-catch two of the people who passed me. In the end, I wasn't thrown by much, as my run time and average pace were faster than my goal.

The kayak transition was not as fast as it could have been. I need to work on that a bit. I had trouble getting my PFD zipped up and I just felt a little slow. Thanks to the guys who assisted us with the boats. That is a physically demanding job!

In the kayak I was hoping to make up some additional time. I tried, but those guys with those really nice composite boats (and strong paddlers!) are tough to catch. I managed to pass two more in the boat, but couldn't catch up with a third I had my sights set on. I measured the paddle at just under 5 miles. I was on track to meet my finish time goal at this point.

The bike transition was slow as well. I was passed in the transition area by a guy who I had passed near the end of the run. He was really strong on the paddle and caught me as I exited my boat.

He got out ahead of me, and I set a goal of keeping him in sight. He got away a little at the beginning, but I managed to catch sight of him less than a mile in. This gave me a boost in motivation and I was able to reel him in. I was surprised to pull away a little before running off the course about 3.5 miles in. Just before running off the course, my calves started to cramp up. He caught me when I stopped to turn around, and got back on the trail in front of me.

I was keeping him in sight, while playing the mental games with my calves....talking to myself out loud, trying every different riding position I could imagine - stretching whenever I had a brief moment where I could slow up on the was mentally the toughest part of the race.

The bike course was kind of a figure 8. Chris was manning an aid station that we would pass twice at the top of the 8. I have to give some props to Chris - he was cheering me on big time - he had seen how close I was to the guy in front of me. When I came past Chris the second time, I still hadn't caught the guy, but Chris' encouragement gave me a mental boost to kick it up a notch. Somewhere in there my calves had begun to settle down a little bit.

After we passed Chris that last time, we were on the running course, so I knew how much we had left. I could see the guy in front of me and I pushed for about all I had to catch him. I rode his back wheel for a while after catching him - I guess I thought it would give me a little rest. Not really, but I saw an opportunity to pass the guy, and in the space of a mile or so, he and I switched places twice. The second time I passed him, he had stopped pedaling, and I could tell he was fighting a calf cramp. I knew this was an opportunity I had to capitalize on so I dug deep and convinced my own calves that they were stronger than that guy's calves. I managed to pull away from him - to my surprise!

As I got close to the end, I kept pushing as I did not know what my final time was and it was now a race against the clock. When the clock came into view, I could see that I had just missed my target. I crossed the line at 2:46:09. My target was 2:45. Despite missing my target, I'm pleased with the result.

I measured the bike course at 9.3 miles

This result put me in what looked to be 11th place overall. The day's winner was Chuck Hiers. This means he had a complete sweep of the series. Nice work! In the top five were (not in any particular order - I don't know the actual finishing times) Adam DeWitt, Bill Jordan and Dwight Shuler. I don't know who the other person was in the top five.

In the Ladies category, Katie Felton took the win and the series win, Theresa Dawson took second for the series. I think she was second for the day as well. If I understood it correctly, Lisa Williams took the win for the Ladies short course. Nice Job!

Thanks to all the competitors who made this a fun event as well.


My Lesson learned from this race!
I'm not pleased with my calf cramps. Although I managed to get myself well hydrated starting on friday morning, I feel like my dinner on friday night was not sufficient. Next time, I'll repeat the meal (or close to it) that I had prior to the Clemson Challenge.

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