Last season was my first season dabbling in triathlon. I did four races – a full IM, an XTERRA, a half IM, and a sprint. I enjoyed the XTERRA far more than the rest, and did much better in it than the rest to boot – second place in my (less than competitive) age group – and decided that off road tris would be my focus for this season. A few months ago, I learned that the southeast regional championship, held in Pelham, AL each year, would also be an ITU world championship race, and that I’d be racing for Team USA should be accepted. I jumped at the opportunity, and received my acceptance letter a few days after applying. A few months of good training went by, and following a very long drive, Lauren and I found ourselves at Oak Mountain State Park.
Note that all the photos up through the end of my race here were taken by Lauren. When we arrived, I went for a quick run around the run course, and then rode the bike course. It wasn’t pretty, though I shouldn’t have been surprised since I rolled out on my bike immediately after a 21 hour cross-country drive. The next day I swam (and later figured out I was swimming with a couple pro racers) and had a much better time on the bike. Feeling confident, I packed everything I needed for race day and went to bed.
Saturday morning rolled around quickly, and even included a wake-up call from the South Pole (thanks Nate!). After check-in, body marking, and setting up my transition area, I went for a good warm up swim.
The men’s age group race (in ITU races, age groupers race separately from the pros, and men and women have their own races as well) started at 8:05, with a warm (79F) swim in the remarkably clean water.
The swim went smoothly enough, and I got through with an acceptable time (24:46).
The bike is where it got ugly. Just the day before I was flying through the woods, feeling smooth, light, and fast. On race day, my bike handling went to garbage, and I wrecked three times. Had I not completely blown it on the bike, I would’ve had a shot at a podium spot. I even lost my Garmin at some point, as it managed to come out of its mount. Came in with a disappointing 1:26:50, well over ten minutes slower than I needed it to be.
I felt great on the run, aside from some leg cramping that calmed down after a couple miles. Lauren found a couple great spots to cheer me on and raised my spirits.
I passed dozens of people, and was passed by none. My run was the 13th fastest in the entire field, at 41:18, but it wasn’t enough to get me up to 6th place in my AG for one of the coveted Maui spots. Total time was 2:32:54, 11/25 in 30-34.
The heat and humidity weren’t too bad during the race, but once I stopped moving I started cooking. Fortunately, they had a “misting tent” set up, with garden hoses running. I stood under the water for a few minutes just cooling off.
Lauren and I left so I could shower and change, and we had some lunch before coming back for the women’s pro race.
Lesley Patterson here ended up winning after “average” swim and bike times and a blistering run.
I spotted these shoes coming out of transition, and only later (after I got home) realized I got a good photo of them during the race. It looks like Mavic is coming out with an tri-specific mountain bike shoe.
Melanie McQuaid got to the run first, but looked like she was hurting.
The men’s pro race started not long after, but the winner was a foregone conclusion (Conrad Stoltz) and Lauren and I were both absolutely exhausted, so we went back to the hotel for a nap.
It was a great race with a disappointing result. Training and racing continues through the summer. Technically I’ll have a shot at another Maui entry in September (assuming I make it to the national championship race) but the competition will be as fierce if not moreso. Realistically, I just have to keep training and give it my best shot next year.
One thought on “ITU Cross Tri World Championships”
Thanks Lauren for the great photos. Michael, you did great considering the bike wipe-outs. You can be proud…