Following a fun, social, low-input road race outing (no bikes, no gear bags, no wetsuits) on 03/19/2016 at the Azalea Trail Run, the team officially kicked off the 2016 triathlon season with its fourth team visit to Biloxi in April. Boston has a marathon, Augusta has a golf tournament, MLB starts its 162-game stretch, and Biloxi has Tradition’s!
The 2016 weather conditions, save for the pre-sunrise ~40F mist, were a welcome improvement on the early-morning deluge of 2015 and the ~30F chill of 2013. The aforementioned mist would burn off soon after the sun rose with the opening of transition at 6:30am. [cuing this author athlete to stuff the gardening gloves back into the car which he dug them out of during the drive from Ocean Springs that morning]
Beyond that, near-ideal weather conditions coupled with the fantastic directorship of Run-N-Tri Company (Lisa McCombs, Dean Morrow, Kevin Goveia, Luke Davidson) came together for a great 6th running of this annual event as reported here…
The swim course features a counter-clockwise, upside-down triangle (scalene, obtuse… high school Geometry, anyone….?) in the 70F flat surf of Lake Traditions. Atop the rumors of indigenous alligators and snakes the added energy of “let’s knock the Winter rust off and start the 2016 season” made it a fun time socializing while sorting out the self-seed time trial start. Being self-seed this permits for a very smooth (and safe) flow of wetsuit-clad athletes through the 600 yard swim. The seeding also allowed the members of GCTT to playfully give one another a bit of jawing in regard to who is sandbagging or not… As it turns out, as far as GCTT was concerned, Chad Hon seeded correctly and blew the entire team away proving that a wetsuit as old as the youngest member on the team still can slip through the water.
T1 includes a transition area flow from the Lake toward and into the “middle” of transition, which means that every athlete eventually covers the same transition distance once T1 and T2 are considered a “total transition.” A level playing field. The next trick is to skillfully maneuver to the mount line and up the small incline (which has nothing on the Grandman monster) en route to Traditions Parkway. Nonetheless, gearing down on the rig while racking your bike at 7:00am is a helpful tip.
The bike course is a fast, efficient 8.5 mile out-and-back track which was blessed with negligible wind this year. Additionally, this is what amounts to a closed bike course — it is no exaggeration to report fewer than ten vehicles spotted on the bike course between 2013 and 2016, and 1-2 of those sightings may perhaps include a Subaru wrapped in Pantone 2925c driven by Joseph Bolton of Pro Cycle & Tri supporting the athletes by performing roadside miracles on otherwise race-ending mechanicals. For the flat-lander GCTT athletes there are a few rollers to keep the legs in check… As evidenced by GCTT athlete Allen Stanfield who claimed the event bike preme on what amounts to his hometown course — he rode like he was on rails, convincing his fellow athletes he could do the same with his eyes closed if need be.
T2 can be tricky. Staying upright is always the goal. Turning and burning while entering Village Avenue West en route to the dismount is a delicate balance which requires a coordinated attack in order to maneuver the off-road run which follow. Looking back at T1 entry, this is when those athletes who have a “shorter” T2 feel the benefit of their longer, damp, bike cleat tap-dance through T1. It all evens out.
The 3.1 mile run is FUN. Yes, F-U-N. With nearly 0.5 miles of “cross country-esque” terrain, an out-and-back segment measuring more than a mile of road (check in on the competition, encourage other athletes), and a finish in the middle of Traditions this course basically has it all. A couple tidbits of advice: watch for the pinecones on the trail at mile 2.5, consider a pre-race recon mission/warmup run along the 0.5 - 1.0 mile segment as this road changes shape every year it seems, the last 0.5 mile shot is basically an false-flat/uphill run so save a match to burn for late in the game. In the end, the GCTT resident track & cross country specialist, Joey Pocreva, would prove his mettle with a team-best run on the day.
The finish and after-party at Traditions is where it is at. Abundant sponsor support and presence, tons of great food/beverages, and an overflow of sportsmanship while cheering in every single finisher — all in the heart of Tradition Village Center, a great place to be on a Saturday in Spring!
In the end, congratulations to all finishers who toed the line on Saturday. The GCTT athletes enjoyed a fulfilling day in part due to all the moving parts involved. Thanks to the many volunteers, dedicated race director(s), loyal event sponsors, and energetic multisport community of the greater-Biloxi area for hosting this event. GCTT (and this author) highly-recommend this annual event, consider adding it to your race calendar for 2017…
Finally, thanks to the GCTT sponsors which make this team possible. Looking forward to a fantastic 2016 season!
*** editorial notes:
- the lake at Traditions may or may not have a name, Lake Traditions?
- the last alligator seen in said marsh was inflatable
- “miracles” as termed may not be referenced for beatification or sainthood
- an already fast bike course would be a veritable drag strip if ever re-paved
- best post-race food & drink around — nom nom
Results link: http://www.splitmastertiming.com/assets/2016/Traditions%20Division%20Final.pdf