I love the Alabama Coastal Triathlon. Might be an odd statement for me. For those who know me, they know the swim is my weakest event. As such, it would make sense for me to stay away from an intermediate event that emphasizes the swim. Yet, every year I find myself registering for the race. Like eating vegetables, I tell myself it is good for me. Suffer through the swim, expose the weakness and vow to get better at it. Triathlon, like life, should be about constant self improvement.
Unfortunately, this year a series of unfortunate events led to me racing the sprint event for the first time. With the new course for both races, a sinus infection that made swimming fairly painful (more than normal for me) and this being my first time racing the sprint, I wasn’t sure exactly what the day would hold.
Race morning began with Hurricane Irma on many people's mind. The weather was a little cooler and definitely windy as a result. As it became light enough to finally see the Gulf I can’t say I was disappointed I was not swimming 1500 meters. This was confirmed as I was batted around by the waves swimming a warm up. All that aside, the sunrise was beautiful and racers were lining up getting ready for the time trial start. Much like when I race the intermediate distance I was starting at the rear. When my turn finally arrived I was pleasantly surprised at the space the time trial start provided. I was tossed around by the waves, but was not crowded one bit by other swimmers. After a quick sprint up the beach you are in to T1 and out on the bike.
Although anticipated, the stiff tailwind was still a shock (a fast one) once moving on the bike. It became quickly apparent this would be a tale of two races. One with the wind, and one against it. The 12.4 mile sprint out and back course (which the intermediate does twice) was flat and fast with little traffic. The turnaround came as no surprise and it was a battle 6.2 miles all the way back into the wind.
A quick trip into T2 and back out onto the run. Unlike the bike, the run headed east and into the wind first. The sprint distance covered the first mile, out and back, of the intermediate 3 mile out and back course. Battling the head wind directly after doing the same on the bike was tough, but the turn around this time provided a welcome tailwind to bring you home to the finish.
Overall it was a good day of racing in tough conditions. The new course is simple, well designed, and fast. A plus is the two loop bike course and central location of the host, The Hangout, makes it great for family and friends to spectate. I finished the day feeling blessed to have raced with great people, on a good day, with my son there to cheer me in. Most days don’t get any better than that.
Full results: http://www.amatteroftiming.com/images/results/2017/actinteroverall.html
by Evan Malone
Race Date: 9/10/16
A handful of years ago I cancelled (or simply didn’t renew) my [insert multisport name here] Magazine subscription. The idea was to move on from the vague, non-committal articles about lifestyle, nutrition, training, racing, and gear peppered amongst the many, many ads in favor of soaking it in on my own terms. Despite the repeated “you can still renew and get a deep discount, free gift, or extended subscription” offers I was able to resist the urge to re-renew (is that a word?). This ability to avoid the print publications was possible partly due to the ever-expanding knowledge depot contained on the World Wide Interwebs but I contend that it was also a subconscious, personal decision to focus more on the grass-roots, organic, athlete-based information which can be shared and drawn upon for further inspiration, implementation, and improvement in whatever arena is deemed appropriate — training, preparing, budgeting, outfitting, spectating, scheming, traveling, racing, etc…
Along those same lines, this author offers a baker’s dozen of insights and observations from the 2016 version of this annual event. This was my seventh go at this event, including the inaugural running of this event in 2008 (the only year it was based out of the Gulf State Park Beach Pavilion) so perhaps I can vouch that this race is a consistent success and has seen some many improvements in regard to optimizing the athlete experience (safety, success, entertainment, confidence) while also teaching some great, great lessons to thousands of participants along the way…
1 - a clear radar at 4:00am, along the Gulf Coast, in September does not mandate clear skies all day long, or even at 8:30am
2 - plastic bags are a triathlete’s friend - lay an empty grocery bag over running gear once positioned in transition or tuck key fobs and mobile phones inside of a ziplock bag before stowing it in a transition bag
3 - al forno (cooked twice) = first in getting a wetsuit on in 75F air temperature and a second time boiling in the 85F Gulf, no wetsuit today for that reason
4 - the Gulf Coast of the U.S., shuffle your feet while entering the water (spook the stingrays to scurry away) and take it in stride if your triathlon start corral is situated around a Federally-secured sea turtle nest
5 - the toughest part of a two-loop swim is entering and exiting the water TWICE; keeping the cardio engine from red-lining at the halfway point of the swim is key
6 - a challenging swim doesn’t need to include HUGE waves or swarms of sea life; churning current can make for an inefficient stroke rhythm
7 - Driver’s Education applies to cycling in the rain = stopping or changing direction on freshly-laid asphalt with the first spittle of rain takes 25% longer to accomplish
8 - course updates as sent out by the race director are indeed worth the pause to read, digest, and act upon — many times these announcements include minor changes to the parking location(s) or contractual sponsor plugs/ads or last-minute reminders on “I.D. required for packet pickup” but when it comes to race schedule or race course, pay particular attention
9 - avoid riding or running through a puddle, what’s at the bottom is a mystery and might require riding/running something other than a straight line (point A to point B) but it may save a busted wheel or twisted ankle
10 - starting the run of a triathlon with wet shoes is no fun, ever (refer back to #2)
11 - sunglasses can serve as a great windshield when running into a fast-approaching wall of rain
12 - the volunteers working the most remote corners of the bike course or weathering the day (literally weathering the storm) for hours on the run course are the glue which hold it all together and the crew out at this event deserve extra special thanks — rockstars… rockstars who did it with a smile and a word of encouragement for everyone who passed!
13 - talk to your fellow athletes pre-race (calm the nerves, answer questions, exchange well wishes) and post-race (share in the fun of the accomplishment, exchange stories from the race course) — this author found himself sitting at a table of five athletes, none of whom came to the event together, all originally from the state of Ohio, ages spanning five different age-groups, with nearly 75-years of combined triathlon experience… small yet relatively-diverse triathlon world!
In sum, the GCTT members had a fantastic, successful, and rewarding experience at the 2016 Alabama Coastal Triathlon. The directors, staff, volunteers, and fellow athletes made the best out of the conditions of the day. Further, GCTT again thanks the loyal team sponsors who make this all possible!
Next stop, Santa Rosa Island Triathlon (10/01/16) followed by the 2016 cap to the Gulf Coast Tri Initiative (10/02/16) with nearly twenty (20) youth athletes participating in the Sea Turtle Triathlon at Pensacola Beach, FL as part of the Initiative!
Alabama Coastal Triathlon - 09/12/15
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Meteorological Magic & Team Magic
by Jared Moore
What looked sure to be, at best, a soggy morning (or worse, a cancellation) turned out to be the most pleasant of conditions for this race in recent memory. The imminent rain showers that had been hovering over the area for the days leading up to the race literally departed moments before the scheduled start time. LITERALLY MOMENTS! I know a guy who knows a guy who didn't show up race-morning because he was so sure it would be cancelled due to weather.
The time-trial lineup for the Tri-It-On sprint race took formation first for a 400-person train snaking up the beach. The Olympic-distance race of 250 commenced seamlessly after the final sprint-distance racer hit the choppy Gulf waters.
Because this triathlete did not participate in the sprint race in Sandestin three weeks prior, little mention will be given to the random spattering of jellyfish tentacles that ignited face, hands, arms and legs like silly-string of electrical current. No substantive description will be provided on how incredibly soothing that mysterious patch of cold water near the shore felt on welted limbs. No, there will be no recount of a completely made-up estimate of the exact number of racers who hailed a jet ski ride back to shore to make the unjust, throbbing, painful stings stop. Certainly any mention of the 2 or 3 mild jellyfish stings this triathlete received during Alabama Coastal's 1500-meter, 2-lap swim would illicit a choir of protests from survivors of the aquatic invasion at the Battle of Sandestin. I'm not as sensitive as most people so the marine life didn't really bother me. ;)
At the other extreme, the antithesis to these haters of the native, gelatinous sea-invertebrate is Doug Jones. Although the source of the rain showers had evacuated, there was still a fair amount of moisture on the roads. The bike course is designed for fast times consisting almost entirely of straight, open road. Mr. Jones held his open-road watts during one of the two turns on the course and unfortunately lost a great deal of flesh (and rumored bone fracture??). Well wishes for a speedy recovery, Doug! (again?!?!) Aside from Doug's misfortune, I think most everyone enjoyed the mostly great road-quality, flat, fast cycling course. As a testament to the quality of venue, the bike turnaround doubled as the run turnaround for a neighboring 5K event.
The run course for this race is what has seared itself into the minds of many racers and is usually the determining factor for finishing placement. The 3-mile out-and-back on blacktop with the only respite an occasional, fleeting shadow from a passing car has melted many racers to a puddle of humility over the years. I will reluctantly confess that I distinctly remember one year struggling to muster enough willpower NOT to make hateful hand-gestures at the Sun. This year, however, was blithe. The temps capped out around 80-degrees, which allowed for some quicker run splits relative to previous years (overall winner clocked a 34:xx 6-miles).
After the final racer had crossed the finish line, GCTT had claimed 2 of the 3 overall podium slots (head nod, Sam and Allen...and the state of Mississippi) and topped 6 age divisions. It was another great opportunity to enjoy racing along the Gulf Coast.
On another note, GCTT offers sincerest condolences to the family of Tim Jenkins. Although he passed doing something we all love, the sting of death is heavy. May the memory and impact of his life carry on.
Great team results at the Alabama Coastal Olympic distance race in Gulf Shores on Saturday. Way to go guys! 7 of the top 11 places, 2 in top 3, and 6 AG Winners.
Sam Hudson - 2nd Overall
Allen Stanfield - 3rd Overall
Chad Hon - 4th Overall -1st AG 45-49 Master Champ
Jared Moore - 5th Overall -1st AG 30-34
Logan Roberts -8th Overall - 1st AG 25-29
Andrew Rothfeder - 9th Overall - 2nd AG 45-49 2nd Master
Matt Storr - 11th Overall -1st AG 35-39
Evan Malone -17th Overall - 2nd AG-35-39
Randy Walton -18th Overall - 1st AG 50-54
Kevin Self -20th Overall - 3rd AG 40-45
Terry Bailey -51st Overall -1st AG 60-64
Complete results in the link: http://www.amatteroftiming.com/images/results/2015/coastali-ag.html
Saturday, September 6, 2014
Brett Robinson Alabama Coastal Triathlon - Orange Beach, AL - 7:00AM
The Brett Robinson Alabama Coastal Triathlon is known by local triathletes as the race with some of the prettiest beaches, a great after party, and awesome swag giveaways. However, this triathlon is renowned throughout the gulf coast for its ability make you feel like your body is going to catch on fire during the run on what seems like a never ending road!
On the way to the race this year we were entertained by a lightening storm off the coast. When dawn hit, it was realized it was not going to storm but hold the tradition of keeping the course warm. This race is a time trial start, with the super sprint racers starting first. Our team had one athlete doing the super sprint, but most were doing the Olympic distance race.
The swim is in the Gulf of Mexico and is a two lap swim with a short beach run in between laps. Usually during this race I am worried about jellyfish, but not this year. The water was crystal clear and as calm as a pool. After the swim, it’s a run on the white sand beach up to transition with plenty of spectators cheering you along the way.
The bike course is mostly an out and back along the beach road and a stretch into the state park. Almost the whole bike course has a bike lane, and I felt very safe the whole race. About 9 miles into the bike you go over the only hill on the course which goes over the Alabama point inlet. Being the only hill on the course makes it feel that much worse though, considering the rest of the course is pancake flat. Once over the bridge you turn around under the bridge and go back over, this is nice because it gave me a nice push on the downhill back toward the state park. Once to the state park, you have a short out and back which gives you a chance to see some other riders and see what type of time gaps there are. Out of the park and it’s a short ride back to T2 and onto the infamous run.
The run course is also an out and back. It is very straight and very open. As I started the run I knew that it was going to get hot fast, so I started holding a little back trying to save it till I made it to the turn around. On the way out we had several team members in the front of the race. I flew by Eric Larson on the run course, but he was going the other way already on his way back to the finish leading the race. I also flew by Johnny Harrison but same scenario. Once I made it to the turnaround I was able to see some people still heading out which gave me a little encouragement knowing I was on my way back to the finish line at the Hang Out. There were several aid stations on the run course with fabulous volunteers who were handing out water, Gatorade, and cold rags to try to keep everyone cool. As I was coming up to the finish I was able to have a sprint with Sam and was unable to make my way around at the last minute.
When finished with the race, there was a tent with water misting where athletes were able to cool off and some athletes just went to the gulf to jump in. The awards started shortly afterward and the gulf coast triathlon team was able to take away several age group placings, a masters winner, grand master winner and an overall winner. Our one racer who did the super sprint race was also able to pull off an overall win. This was a very fun race and I look forward to being there with the team again next year!
Till next time racers,
This weekend was the AL Coastal Triathlon for the GCTT. The guys did extremely well in a race that always brings the heat, literally. Congrats to Eric Larson on his overall win! Here is how the guys finished:
1 - Larson
4 - Harrison
5 - Earhart
6 - L. Roberts
8 - Hudson
12 - Malone
14 - Steed
17 - Jones
37 - Bailey
Complete results can be found here: http://onlineraceresults.com/race/view_plain_text.php?race_id=42790
Next up this season is the Santa Rosa Island Triathlon. Last year it was cancelled due to a hurricane - we are hoping for a better weather forecast this time!
This weekend The Gulf Coast Tri Team raced in their 6th team event of the year. The Brett Robinson Alabama Coastal Olympic Triathlon (Gulf Shores, AL), hosted by Team Magic, was the only Olympic distance triathlon on the schedule for 2013 but that did not prevent strong performances! Let it be noted though, that the baking sun brought scorching temperatures and made the run segment really... really hot.
Here is how the team finished:
3rd OA - Rob Felty
3rd Masters - Randy Walton (7th OA)
1st AG - Eric Larson (10th OA)
1st AG - Logan Roberts (5th OA)
5th AG - Billy Striepeck (40th OA)
4th AG - Evan Malone (16th OA)
1st AG - Andrew Rothfeder (11th OA)
1st AG - Chuck Babin (47th OA)
3rd OA (Sprint Race) - Doug Jones
Olympic results here. Sprint results here.
Great racing this weekend GCTT! Our next and final team race of the year will be the Santa Rosa Island Triathlon and nearly the entire team is signed up to compete. See you October 5th!