Big-O Half Iron-Distance Triathlon
by Ben Schloegel
What a day! It is now Tuesday, just a couple days removed from the start of Kansas City’s only annual 1/2 Ironman “The Big O”. For those of us who toed the line in both the 1/2 and Sprint distance I think we are still trying to rid our brains of what feels like a nasty hangover from a hard night out. I have never personally been in a race that had been called off completely, I did Race For Site one year in Columbia, MO (ironically the exact same weekend) and they cancelled the bike portion. Last year I raced Ironman
Wisconsin in which I secretly prayed to my god during the entire bike/run portion that I would either be struck by lightning, the race would be canceled or that I would crash out. My prayers were only half way met though, when I was in-fact slammed to the asphalt only to have my bike intact enough to get me to T2. My last four races have been in record lows, record highs or epic conditions. Ironman Wisconsin and Florida last year met ridiculous standards in at least two of these three conditions cold/wet/wind. The Cats ½ Ironman last year, which was supposed to be the perfect simulation and build up to those two was 112 degrees and humid as could be. Why do I tell you this?
Because nothing, no cold, no rain nor oven like conditions are as sweet as riding your lightning rod through a deluge that drops the air temp some 20 degrees in an hour’s time while rat-a-tat-tatting your body like a textured steak with crazy hail. All the while you can smell the electricity in the air as lightning strikes in the field off to your side and the thunder is so loud it damn near knocks you off your bike. Those my friends, were the kind of conditions in which misery is all about.
Bill Marshall and everyone who either volunteered or helped put on the race made the right call and at the right time. I am always in favor of trying to get a race off, I have been known to train in gnarly conditions and am no stranger to inclement weather. I don’t think you can have a race that truly is safe while those conditions exist. We tried, but Mother Nature had other plans, I think the best we can do is sign up again next year and give it another shot.
The swim, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I was kind of licking my chops at the start of this race. I was all decked out in my new Blue Seventy Helix wet suit; that suit is the bomb and it will make you faster- I swear. The swim course was going to be a thing of beauty for us members of the ultra secretive non-swimmer society (which I am getting ready to turn in my membership card into, as I have greatly improved this discipline in the off season). The swim was definitely going to be short, a quick out and back ONE LOOP course.
Are you sure? ONE LOOP?
Yeah, they said so at the mandatory it-is-the-athletes-responsibility-to-know-the-course meeting just like 14 hours ago, and then again this morning. Well wait a second, “Will all athletes get back to the beach for an emergency meeting please”
There is now less than 4 minutes left. The race director is on the mic and informing us all that the swim will now be TWO loops, instead of one.
Snake eyes again!
This was a good lesson, and omen, as to what adaptation of race strategy was going to be all about. After completely altering the course with less than 3 minutes to go the horn finally sounded. Here is where I insert my soap box statement. Self seeding is the athlete’s responsibility, if you can not swim, don’t swim well or any combination of the two. Hang out on the beach for a minute or move to the back, there were so many people; most of which were wearing the orange caps that had no business being in the front at all. You will do yourself and other athletes a huge service by hanging back and not becoming a speed bump. The swim was your usual fiasco, and was a bit on the long side when it was all said and done,