Monday, May 19, 2014

Belmont Park, I mean Duathlon

Several months ago I got an email giving me the opportunity to sign up for the Belmont Park Triathlon for only $28.
What a deal!
The triathlon would be a 5k run on the beach, a 10k bike ride ON THE BEACH and a 200 meter swim in a pool.
Plus I would get a t-shirt and a finishers medal.
All for $28.
It sounded like a great way to start the day at the beach.
And it was a USAT Sanctioned event.

I guess you get what you pay for.

First, they changed the triathlon to a duathlon.
I guess the pool where the swim was suppose to be had "recent structural issues" that prevented it from being used.
So instead of a 200 meter swim, I was going to run an extra 1.5 miles.
No problem.
I love to run.
Especially when the run is along the beach!!
This may have been a USAT Sanctioned event, but they didn't follow any rules, or hardly any rules.
When we checked in Sunday morning, they didn't check any identification or whether we were even members of USAT.
The volunteers just handed over our tshirts and our bibs.
If I had known they were NOT going to check, I could have had someone FAST race in my place.
Just kidding.
I wouldn't do that.
We set up our mountain bikes in transition on the beach. It would have been a BIG sandy mess, but they had covered the sand with tarps.
The race did start on time.
7 a.m.
Before I go on, I want to go on record that I just mentioned two positive things about the event.
It was overcast so I left my sunglasses in my bag in transition.
The race started and we ran down the beach and turned around at the orange cone, then ran down to the other end of the beach and turned around at the tennis ball.
That's right. We all ran around a tennis ball placed in the sand and then turned and ran back up the beach to transition.
In transition I made a BIG mistake.
On a whim, I decided NOT to put on my bike shoes, and just continue in my running shoes.
After all, the bike ride was ONLY going to be 6 miles.
Piece of cake.
Only I forgot how much easier and how much more power I have pedaling when I am CLIPPED in!!!
The ride was a quad-burner.
A mile into the ride, I was bemoaning my decision not to change from my running shoes to my biking shoes.
I am sure I did save some seconds not having to change in and out twice, but I can only guess that I would have made up that time on the ride.
The ride down the beach was pretty fast. After a few miles we had to turn around.... the pink bucket.
Look, I couldn't make this stuff up.
I was laughing at the absurdity of this race.
First the tennis ball and then the pink bucket.
I turned around at the pink bucket and the headwind hit me hard. Now I was really upset at myself for not switching into my bike shoes. Just 4 miles of riding in the sand was starting to feel like 40 miles riding on the road.
And I still had 2 more miles to bike and then a run in the sand, though it was hardpack, to look forward to.
Even though the Belmont Tri website clearly stated the rules: Note: All USAT rules will apply. It is the entrant's responsibility to know the USAT rules. Our bike course will be marshaled. Our bike marshals will be looking for 5 key violations: 1) Your helmet is fastened at ALL times on the course, 2) You may NOT draft at any time on the bike course. This means keep at least 5 bike lengths between you and the rider in front of you and you may NOT ride along side another rider, 3) Our course will have 2 "no passing" zones race day. Obey all rules and instructions regarding these lanes, 4) No erratic or unsafe riding, and 5) Observe the Mount/Dismount line and follow instructions accordingly. Violators of these rules may be given a warning, penalized by a time penalty or may be DISQUALIFIED,
I can tell you that I saw several people riding their bikes WITHOUT helmets; many had their helmets unfastened; there was LOTS of drafting going on; I never saw a "no passing" zone; and the course was not marshaled at all.
The course was a free-for-all.

After riding past the start line, a guy yelled, "Ride down to the jetty and turn around."
I was wondering what "beachy" item we would be turning around at the jetty.
A bottle of sunscreen?
Maybe a pile of seashells?
A surfboard?
There was nothing.
It was left up to each individual racer where they should "turn around at the jetty."
From looking at the tire marks in the sand it was obvious that some participants thought they should ride ALL the way to the jetty and turn around, while most thought it was okay to turn around as soon as the jetty was in sight.
I rode my bike all the way to the jetty and followed in the tracks that were closest to the rocks.
I got to transition and racked my bike, grabbed my water bottle and took off on the run.
It was painful.
My legs were screaming and while the sand was hardpack, it was still sand.
After a lot of people had run on the sand, it wasn't really hardpack anymore...more like unpacked.
I ran down the beach and turned around at the cone....
yes, there was a cone.
Then I was told to run down to the end of the beach and turn around at the jetty.
Same thing...only this time not on bikes.
There were not many runners who actually ran to the jetty. From what I saw, most turned around a good distance before they got to the end.
Before crossing the finish line, I had to run through some deep, deep sand. It was very uneven and I had to take care not to twist an ankle. My stride at the end was more of a prance, than a run.
I was finished,
but Robert was just starting his run....
I went with him and we walked those 1.5 miles together.
Then we waited for them to post results.
While we were waiting, the sun finally came out.
I went to get my sunglasses out of my bag and they were broken.
Broken in half.
Our friend, Tom, who along with his wife, Jeanne, were also participating in the triathlon, I mean duathlon, said when he came into transition from his finish, some woman had thrown her bike onto our rack, throwing sand everywhere, and squishing my bag with her tire.
She broke my glasses.
Then to add insult to injury (though luckily none of us had any injuries), they announced that they didn't have results and if you thought you might be a podium winner, to just go up and get a medal.
That was the most ludicrous think I had ever heard.
But then I SAW the most ludicrous thing....people were actually going up to the table and picking up medals and putting them around their necks.
WITHOUT RESULTS being posted.
WITHOUT AWARDS being announced.
It was just help yourself.
Today I looked online to see if there were any REAL results and while the 5k Margarita run results are listed on, there are no results for the triathlon, I mean duathlon.
Here's my final words on our morning:
-Running and riding a bike on sand is hard.
-Just because an event is listed as USAT sanctioned does not mean they are going to follow the rules.
-Spending the morning at the beach with my guy and friends is a great way to spend a morning.

Now I am going sunglass shopping.


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