Saturday, October 01, 2005

Chesapeakeman volunteer report

Chesapeakeman (iron distance triathlon in Cambridge, Maryland) is still in progress with the clock at about 7 1/2 hours, but I've already done my volunteer gig and I'm back home and I've taken a nap. (That 3 AM wakeup really seemed to knock me out!)

It's perhaps the most beautiful weather they could have gotten for this event: zero wind, zero waves on the Choptank, a rare day of low humidity (no fog like last year), 68 degree water temperatures (warmer than the air this morning), and right now the temperatures are climbing to their high for the day of 73-75*F. The full sun might be a little hot and tiring on the bike, I imagine, but that's the only weather complaint the triathletes should have for the day.

I was really surprised to see that there were only about 120 people participating in today's event. Triathletes are really missing out on a gem of an iron-distance event, on a flat PR course!

I arrived at 5AM on site at the huge luxurious Hyatt resort in Cambridge. I hadn't been there, but it's a fabulous place. I found RD Bob Vigorito and a few early arrivals in a big pavilion starting the day with Starbucks on tap. I got to work doing the best volunteer job of all - body marking - which kept me fairly busy up until the start. It was a friendly, low-key atmosphere.

I think there were only about 10-15 women in the entire event, and Ellie was the oldest female competitor. I saw her at the start and helped mark her up and smear her bare arms with Vaseline against the sea nettles in the Choptank. She seemed reasonably calm and in positive good spirits.

The sun came up just about 2 minutes before the mass start in the Choptank - the rosy sky reflected off the water was lovely. There was a long pier that the spectators could walk out on to follow the swimmers on foot as they headed out for the first few hundred yards.

As the swimmers proceeded down the river with a favorable current in the point-to-point swim, I got in the minivan and drove to T1 - the waterfront park where Eagleman is staged. Not long after I arrived the swimmers started coming out of the water - I believe the first finisher was a woman who came out at about 45 minutes. That current helped everyone!

I stationed myself at the swim exit and directed the swimmers up the ramp and helped steady them as they regained their land legs, if they needed it, while shouting numbers up to the timing crew.

Everybody had a PR swim! Ellie was expecting to swim about a 1:45, and she came out at 1:25, with only 3 remaining men emerging shortly thereafter. All were very happy with their times! Most people seemed relatively relaxed and not too exhausted coming out of the water. One guy stopped as he came out of the water and jokingly demanded his money back, because he had been told this would be a challenging swim. :-) A couple people with sleeveless wetsuits mentioned getting hit by the sea nettles, but they didn't seem too severely affected by them. Mostly they just itch, and aren't too bad when treated promptly.

After everyone was on their way from T1 I drove over to the high school where T2 was located. It was quiet and fairly empty and would remain so for several hours, and suddenly fatigue from the early morning was catching up with me. I had thought about taking a long run on the triathlon run course, but then realized that the aid stations weren't even set up yet, so I thought better of it and headed home for my nap instead.

Best wishes to everyone out there on the course, and to everyone else racing this weekend!


Madame La Blog said...

OMG.....this posting gave me major the time I ws stressing before my own first Half Im (beyond capacity for rational thought) so i couldn't comment. What a phenomenal day. congrats to Ellie. You must have been so pumped, being there to witness it.

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