One year ago today I showed up for a little triathon called the Grady Williams Freedom Days Triathlon. In case you weren't around then, follow this link to read about it.
It's the only letter of complaint I've ever written, to USAT and the Farmington Champber of Commerce. In return, the race director accused me of being rude to volunteers, when, in truth, I never got to meet the volunteers. I became lost, along with the other Athean, on the run course (the event is swim-run-bike) and never made it to meet most of them. I always make it a point to thank volunteers, because I want them to have good associations with athletes and racing. Which means that she seems to be seriously mistaken in her facts.
SO here's my take on the whole thing.
1. There is some bee-u--tiful scenery on this course. On the bike, you get a look at Shiprock from a distance, and on the run, you're doing a trail run through the high desert.
2. Bling, bling, baby. The prizes are gorgeous hand-painted Navajo pottery, which you can see at the end of this post.
3. Small field. There were a little over 60 participants there this year.
4. The lake is great for swimming, calm with just the right temperature for a wetsuit swim, although there were a couple of people without one, and the walk into and out of the lake is easy and comfortable. They mark off each person leaving the lake to make sure nobody is left behind, and then they transport your stuff to the finish line in another location.
5. The trail run to T2 was kind of fun (this is a swim-run-bike course). Although it's advertised as an Olympic, with a 10K run, the run was short by about a mile.
6. They don't lie about the course. They say challenging, and it is. Here's a picture of the bike course (top) and the run course (bottom): It is as ugly as it looks. I walked a couple of the hills, because I ran up the side of a mountain with Pirate a couple days ago (more on that later). That was my fault. My legs were trashed.
7. Low race entry fee: $30.
In the words of a local race director, this is an "industrial strength" race. Support is minimal. For instance, after my letter last year, it was promised that cones would be put out to mark the turns. They were not. They used the exact same chalk technique as last year. This year, most of it could be seen. Only one person I knew of got lost this time.
All aid stations(3 on the run, 1 on the bike) had clear water dispensers sitting in the sun, so the results is bathtub-temperature water. It was around 97 degrees out when I finished, and on the last 3 miles of the bike I started getting goosebumps and nausea that signals heat exhaustion, despite finishing off the three bottles of ice water I brought with me. For people who are out on the course for a long time, cold or even room temp water is useful for bringing down core temp. I've been informed by veteran triathletes that this race has always been this way.
Sweet Baboo thinks I'm going on about this too much, but the course markings and warm water really need to be remedied, because it's crazy dangerous not to.
My advice: If you want a challenge, x-terraesque with plenty of hills, and very cool Navajo pottery awards, then do this race. It draws some of the more talented athletes from Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and beyond.
and if you do...
- Bring your own ice, food, sport drink and plenty of water; keep an ice chest at your transition area and perhaps even use a hydration pack for extra cold water. Only warm water is offered at the stops, and there's only one stop on the bike, despite more being indicated on the map they handed out.
- Know the course. Course marshals may point you in the right direction or just watch you go by. One racer sailed right on by a corner marshall, who never got up to tell him to turn. Drive the bike course and walk the run course the evening before, to be familiar with it. Carry a garmin, just in case.
There. I finished. I feel that I essentially erased my DNF from last year. It's a shame, because this race could be so great!RESULTS:
My finish time: 4 hours and some change.
Sweet Baboo's finish time: 2:39. He placed first in his division. I was one of two athenas, so I placed 2nd.
Holy cow, my hubby is getting scary fast!
I'm considering being a volunteer at this race the next time Baboo wants to do it.
Meanwhile, we'll be shopping for a new "anniversary" triathlon to do. (Oh, yes, we will.)