See Pictures of the race here
anyone who has ever had the pleasure of traveling with the great divide team to an out of state race can appreciate the atmosphere of anticipation that this year’s 15 racers experienced as we gathered Saturday morning at crossroads. that’s not a typo either. fifteen of us setting off to look for booty and swag to bring home from the folks in Washington who do such a good job running the olympic distance onionman triathlon. well, we sort of set off since our first order of business was to test the mettle of our leader by circling the caravan for a “good luck” send off tour through the streets of the upper west side and back to crossroads to rescue a lost pair of sunglasses.
seeing Greg’s white knuckle squeeze on his steering wheel let us know we were good to go and so off we headed off stopping only for corndogs and beer, closely following the gates’ pre-race nutrition plan. a quick stop at a bike porn shop and a burrito stand in Laura’s old college neighborhood was all we saw of Spokanebecause race packets were waiting in Walla Walla. Walla Walla is a beautiful green oasis in the middle of the dry lava plains of eastern Washington. fields and orchards intermingle with vineyards in a very European setting. it’s a great venue for a fun race.
at the packet pickup we all stood in line with our fellow racers, sizing up each other’s fitness, including a few pros who came to share the pain. a little intimidation is never a bad thing and we dished out our own with pretty boys ruses and Bryan who obviously could out drink anyone there.
the team gathered for a pre-race dinner which never would have been served if not for the perseverance of our type-A alpha member mark. sorry Greg, you’ve been displaced a notch. thanks mark!
race morning was breezy but sunny and warm. water temp was reported to be 67 degrees which was a huge relief for all of us northerners who still reeked of pool chlorine from an entire 7 months of following the black pool lane lines. nervous chatter at the motel breakfast eluded to the focus of the group to go out there and kick some butt.
at the race site Bryan’s ripped guns offered some giggling and blushing for the teenaged girls who had volunteered as body markers, no doubt for this exact reason! as soon as we remembered how to put on a wetsuit we were in the water and ready to race. the bullhorn sounded and patty’s race tactics went into full swing as she immediately kicked off my goggles as she swam away. unfazed, i jumped into the mayhem and followed the mass of orange capped swimmers who, through fogged goggles half full of water, looked exactly like the orange buoys floating somewhere out in the distance.
out of the water and into T1, Sean added a fourth sport by sprinting up and downan earthen dam to fetch a helmet out of his van. pretty impressive, especially given his 44:05 run split later on! the out and back bike course was windy and has a false flat climb all the way out but as the leaders began to appear in the oncoming lane it soon was apparent that a lot of Helenians were having a good day. first came Greg right on the tails of the pros and followed by one after another rider wearing the gdt red and yellow tucked down on the aero bars cranking out some serious wattage. The transitions remained a bit of a challenge for gdt members as Greg did a little ankle twist on his way out and others (okay, maybe just me) couldn’t remember where we had left our stuff from T1. but again on the run course the red and yellow dominated the front of the pack and set up an incredible medal run by the Helena group. Ann and Greg, in true athletic form, overcame foot/ankle injuries to smoke their run splits. After worrying all week that she’d drown in the swim, patty pulled out the stops in her run to finish second in her age group for this her first Olympic distance. The gdt team entry also put in a good race finishing second in the team category.
The race brought out some very competitive racers from across the northwest and in spite of the tough field, gdt came away with 10 medals for the 15 racers who competed! Podium announcements rarely went without at least one racer from Helena. Sean even had enough left over after his race to outrun the cateringguards and made off with both chicken and a vegetarian only shish-ka-bob at the post race lunch.
That afternoon we made our way back to couer d’alene for post race stories over mojitos and sushi but not before the slanger man van made an unscheduled stop for a quick “shower” in the parking lot of an urgent care center. The urgency however was believed to be alcohol induced.
The next morning the group suited up once more in red and yellow to ride the cda ironman course which started a few blocks from our hotel rooms. The morning was perfect as the sound of almost 15 riders clicked into their pedals and took off in a nicely formed peloton through downtown that caught the attention of everyone we passed. It was a great finale to a fantastic weekend.
The official tally of the race was as follows: in the top ten standings, 4 Helenaracers made the list. Laura was 6, Ann 8 and Sarah 10 in the women’s category and Greg was 9 in the men’s. Ann was 3rd in the women’s masters category. By age group, Laura took 3rd in the women’s 25-29, Greg was 3rd , ruses 6th and Bryan 11th in the male 30-34, Sara 3rd in the women’s 30-35, Sean 11th in men’s 35-39, Karen 4th in 35-39 women’s, mike 8th in men’s 40-44, patty 2nd women’s 45-49, mark 3rd, bill 8th men’s 50-54, and Ann 1st women’s 50-54. JP, Meagan, and Dave took second in the team competition.