Sunday, June 28, 2015
Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon (Chattanooga, TN)
USAT Southeast Region Age-Group Championship
2015 being the third year in existence for the Gulf Coast Triathlon Team (GCTT) and following a great, inaugural team road trip to Central Florida in 2014, GCTT set forth in making plans for crafting such an undertaking into an annual event for the team. The result of sifting through various race databases, exchanging numerous e-mails, and coordinating a listing of seventeen (of the twenty-two) team members and two team sponsors would not disappoint — a fun-filled trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee for Team Magic’s annual Chattanooga Waterfront Intermediate Distance Triathlon!
Per usual, the organization of the Team Magic events is second to none. Packet pickup, transition layout, bus service to the swim start, and athlete village traffic flow are all very easy to navigate thanks to race directorship’s fine attention to detail combined with an energetic volunteer force. These would actually prove to be the simpler aspects of the entire weekend. Seemingly more effort was expended on planning out how to conveniently transport, entertain, and lodge (in no particular order) seventeen bikes, nineteen men residing across the entirety of the Gulf Coast and a complement amount of transition bags and race gear, a portable chiropractic table, a rental U-Haul trailer, and a fifteen-passenger rental van.
So, with an eclectic spread of digital music and a healthy mix of tales to pass the time the team set out for the Scenic City on Saturday for this Sunday event. Beyond the routine of packet pickup Saturday afternoon would include half the team enjoying the city’s bike rental program while the other half scoping out portions of the 10k run course; all followed by a feast at Mellow Mushroom and bookended by some scheming around the local Sunday beverage sales restrictions.
Sunday morning would bring near-perfect racing conditions: a down-current swim in the 80-82F Tennessee River, 65F air temps, negligible wind, clear skies, fantastic road conditions featuring U.S. Highway 27, and a generous amount of shade along the TN Riverwalk run course.
The swim course is a unique point-to-point swim which has somewhat become a hallmark of the Chattanooga events (70.3, Ironman). Athletes were arranged in order of estimated swim time, submitted upon entry to the event. GCTT landed around the same grouping of bib numbers (115 - 150 range) which also made for a familiar set of bikes, gear, and athletes in the same vicinity of transition. As above, the swim was comparatively fast given the down-river direction and a favorable water flow. Athlete traffic in the water was ideal and easy to navigate. Just as soon as the entire team was in the water GCTT athletes were slinging themselves out of the water and up the steps into T1.
The bike course is a challenging ride along Highway 27 as it courses North followed by a quick button-hook turnaround and back Southward toward the city. The back half of this ride made for some fantastic views of the city coupled with some exhilarating speeds (40+ mph) on the bike. A quick exit ramp jaunt and it was screaming into T2 in preparation for the 10k run.
The run course is a deceptive event for this race. Apart from the 10k distance being too long to “fake it and hope to make it” like many sprint events (5k runs), this course features some uphill running during the meat of miles one and five. Beyond that, there is the set of stairs at the 0.5 and 5.5 mile markers. These hills and stairs made for an challenging run, but a run which really is/was fun especially considering the great aide station support (cold towels, water hose showers, supportive volunteers), the abundant amount of shade, the elevated wood plank path through the heavily-wooded areas, and the counterflow athlete traffic which allowed for scoping out competition and cheering other athletes along.
The post-event festivities were great. A well-coordinated results display (paper posting and computer screen scrolling), a great selection of food and drink, and a scenic venue which allowed the entire team to enjoy the beautiful weather.
When the final tallies were in, this event would prove that it deserved to be the Southeast Region Age-Group Championship — this was a competitive field. The GCTT athletes made some proud podium appearances with seven awards for the haul:
Pocreva — 1st AG, Southeast Region AG Champion
Larson — 3rd AG, 10th overall, fastest run of the day
Stanfield — 3rd AG
Hudson — 2nd Masters
Rothfeder — 2nd AG
Walton — 1st AG, Southeast Region AG Champion
Harrison — 1st AG, Southeast Region AG Champion
Full results can be found here: http://www.amatteroftiming.com/images/results/2015/cwt.html
Rounding out a fun weekend trip, GCTT enjoyed the remainder of Sunday: relaxing at the outdoor sundeck of the hotel, checking out the various eateries in downtown Chattanooga, using the 24-hour bike rental passes until the last possible moment, some competitive games of ping-pong at Clyde’s On Main, entertaining sing-alongs of some of GCTT’s favorite songs, helping some young co-eds with the portage of their watercraft to their cars, and much, much more…
Thanks again to the fine team sponsors who make these sort of events possible for GCTT and to the folks at Team Magic for hosting such a fantastic race. Special thanks to Joseph Bolton of Pro Cycle & Tri and Ryan Nobles of Coastal Chiropractic for making the trip with the team, their insight and company made for a great event!
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