The 5th weekend in May is always one of my favorites; this year was no exception. So far I haven’t had good showings in our first two team races, so today I needed to play makeup.
This year I was early to the transition and was still beat by half the team to the race site. Had a nice leisurely time in transition, went for short run with a team member and it was time to head off to the pier.
The swim starts from jumping off the Fairhope Municipal Pier. This makes the swim portion for me and probably for most others a lot more fun. The first few people who jumped performed some acrobatic maneuvers, leave it to the first few being Gulf Coast Tri Team members. The swim was an easy to follow course with only one left hand turn, then head straight to the beach. My swim was steady and uninterrupted due to the time trial start. Then, out of the water and up the stairs to T-1.
The short run to transition is completely filled with spectators which provided plenty of encouragement. Coming into transition, I realized I had made it in while some of the faster guys were leaving, so I made my transition as fast as possible to try to catch them. So, at least my transition time was tied with Eric Larson for the fastest T-1 time.
Starting off on the bike there is a nice little hill as soon as you clip in. Starting on this hill, you need to make sure of two things: first is to make sure you’re in the small chain ring; second make sure your bike is shifting correctly. Here is a short clip of the hill out of T-1 and a good team member who was unfortunately unable to attend this year. After the hill leaving the pier the first half of the ride is through beautiful downtown Fairhope with rolling hills. The second half is flat and comes back into town along the water and Magnolia Beach Park. I was able to ride with the eventual race winner for the second half of the course.
Coming back into the second transition you get to go down the hill and dismount right at the bottom. Coming off the bike, I think will be the closest to feeling like I was in an ITU race. I dismounted my bike with the fastest runner in the race right behind me. Sprinting through transition, I rack the bike and put my shoes on and run out with the fastest runner still right next to me.
Then, back up the hill for the start of the run. Trying to stay with someone faster than you is not the best way to run your best race, but it is the only way to win. When we made it to the top of the hill I realized I was spent and Eric was just warming up. After the top of the hill, you run through gorgeous neighborhoods to the turnaround at one mile then back down the hill. This segment was just spent recovering for me. Down the hill and through the duck ponds I was able to catch a local, Johnny Harrison, and he lead the way separating the geese and making a nice path for me to follow to the finish.
After the race, we were treated to plenty of pizza, pastries, and beer. The team did very well at this race with 9 members in the top 15 overall. We had an OVERALL victory (Eric Larson), third overall (Allen Stanfield). For age groups the team had 6 first place finishes, 4 second place finishes, and 4 third place finishes.