By Aaron Runyon
Race Date: 10/1/16
I struggle to write a meaningful race report without sounding cliche. I want to say things like, "life is unpredictable," "just have fun," "goals aren't always meant to be accomplished," and even "enjoy the experience." But as race day unfolded for the Santa Rosa Island Tri these were the things that came to mind. Why? I think it is because triathlon, and endurance sports in general, are a mirror for life. In such a short amount of time, a single race, you can experience such an array of emotions. Anticipation, excitement, joy, pain, frustration, hopelessness and so many more. Considering you often experience these with some of your closest friends and family it is no wonder that I often leave races feeling as if I have lived a whole lifetime in a matter of hours. To me, this is why trying to describe triathlon elicits larger than life, often cliche, statements that people have used, and over used, to attempt to capture life's experiences.
After several years of challenging weather Saturday blessed those who raced with near perfect conditions. SRI Tri is a bookend race for me. Not just the last race of my tri season but a chance to see friends one last time before winter drives me to other activities. I spent the morning taking the time to talk with people, including jokes about whether myself or another team member would have the slowest swim split (I won) and as I walked down the beach to the swim start and the sun was just cresting the horizon illuminating the glassy surface of the gulf I thought, "enjoy the experience."
Fast forward to the run and I was thinking the almost exact opposite. It felt terrible as it always does. And, as I was unsuccessfully chasing first place in my age group I was thinking, "goals aren't always meant to be accomplished." We learn more from failure.
For another trio from our team, plagued by unexpected injuries and bike wrecks, who were preparing for an impromptu GCTT relay, it was a slightly different story. Thrown together at the last minute because they all wanted to race, but due to their individual limitations had to specialize in one event each. They still wanted to be out there on race morning though. Soaking it all in. "Life is unpredictable."
In the end, it was a perfect day for racing, for learning, and for living. However, the event serves only as a prologue for many families. Early Sunday morning many of the same triathletes, now with kids in tow, are back at the beach for the Sea Turtle Kids Triathlon every year. As I watched the event, with my own three year old begging to race and not understanding why he could not, I couldn't help but be amazed. I saw challenged athletes, one with a single leg prosthesis, a visually impaired child with a guide, along with kids from all walks of life compete and complete a triathlon of their own with smiles on their faces. They reminded me yet again, "just have fun." Enjoy the ride.
By Logan Roberts
It’s starting to become a tradition that, the first weekend of October on beautiful Pensacola Beach, the wind howls and the temperatures are 15 degrees cooler than the week before. This is a tradition that I personally like!
The 2015 Santa Rosa Island Triathlon was perfect racing conditions. Around 7:00am, racers were lining the shores of the smooth and flat Gulf of Mexico. The gun went off and they took to the water in this wetsuit-legal swim. Along the swim route was plenty of support, if needed. As racers emerged out of the water, they ran through the soft white sand to transition 1.
The bike this year may have intimidated some racers due to the wind, but just remember if it’s hurting you it’s hurting everyone else as well. Brian Fleischmann was the first to return from the out and back course through the beach homes and Gulf Islands National Seashore. The flow of athletes continued into T2 from the fast course.
After a brief transition, we ran along Via de Luna and the homes on the Avenidas. The course was well marked and supported with two water stops on the 5K route. The course was fast but no one was as fast as Eric, who, hands down, clocked the fastest run split on the course. The finish line, I’m sure, was enjoyed by all. It let you catch your breath while standing in line for the great after party, beer, and food!
The team had an excellent showing with 7 finishing in the top ten. I look forward to participating again next year as part of the Gulf Coast Tri Team!
Great racing this past weekend by the GCTT members willing to race in blustery conditions. Here is how they finished up in overall results.
2 - Larson
4 - Moore
5 - Harrison
6 - Runyon
8 - Walton
9 - Earhart
10 - Rothfeder
17 - Malone
18 - S. Roberts
22 - Steed
Complete results can be found here. http://gulfsporttiming.com/results.php?rid=evdDw&race=2015%20Santa%20Rosa%20Island%20Triathlon#/results::14438961768280
Great 2015 season, hope to see you all next year!
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Santa Rosa Island Triathlon - Pensacola Beach, FL - 7:00 AM
Ruby red cycling shoes and the Wicked Wind of the North
“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
SRITRI was my very first triathlon back in 2008 so it is always a commemorative event on the calendar – kind of like a multisport birthday but with aero party hats. There is always a great turnout so there are plenty of friends. There is good food waiting with Carrabba’s redolence mingling with the salty beach air. And when Mother Nature cooperates it’s usually a good time of year for Pensacola Beach with Caribbean-clear water and the first signs of reprieve from the usual Gulf Coast heat & humidity. Plus, how many opportunities are there to race with top-tier talent like Brian Fleischmann at home?
One would think after last year’s event being cancelled due to dangerous forecasts, this year would be idyllic conditions. And from the safety of a parked vehicle, that appeared to be true. With clear skies and cozy temps (60’s), the Gulf was pancake flat with winds out of the North. Try to open the car door though and it became immediately evident that this was no gulf breeze. Depending on the direction the car was facing, the door either seemed to weigh 100-lbs or it nearly snapped off its hinges as soon as the handle was pulled. There were several reported sightings of Dorothy and Toto whirling around. I personally think it was just Evan (Malone) though who chose to wear his spectator dress in lieu of racing due to some race on some obscure Hawaiian island the following weekend (seriously though, congrats to Evan on the pinnacle achievement of getting to race in multisport Mecca - Kona). Ironman proximity didn’t stop Chad (Hon) though who was 6-days out from his enviable, 9-something hour IM Chattanooga showing (and he still managed an 8th overall and the AG-win at SRITRI!!). There was also an alleged MC Hammer sighting but that turned out to just be Logan (Roberts) who must have picked-up some of the 1990’s celeb’s iconic flappy britches on EBay for post-race warmth.
From the shore, the Gulf looked like a really big lake – not a wave to be seen. To the first buoy was reminiscent of a snorkeling excursion on the Northern coast of Panama my wife and I once took – calm, clear, cerulean water. First breath after the turn buoy was a surprise gulp of salty water. Second breath was another surprising, slightly-larger gulp of salty water. Third breath was a starting-to-panic, destination-hypoxia, giant gulp of salty water. Being a really quick learner, I decided breathing to the left was preferable than continuing to breath towards shore and drowning. Turns out the North wind that was so amiably flattening the Gulf was like that wispy seraph that emerged from the opened Ark of the Covenant in that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark – at first, she seemed all beautiful and alluring as she floated around but then she transformed into a skull-faced poltergeist and literally melted that guy’s face off. Indy was smart enough not to look at her from the beginning, but I am no Indiana Jones and she blew a lot of water in my face. And from what I gathered post-race, there were only a handful of racers unaffected by the North wind deception – one with a pro-card and the other a local, 16-year old phenom who’s been bruising local egos since he was 12 (both posted sub-10:00 times for the 600 yard swim and subsequent run up the beach).
Possibly the most astounding detail of the day is that there were no reported major crashes or injuries. After a record number of people had to be pulled from the water due to the blustery winds, it would certainly have been plausible that there would be more than a few unfortunate mishaps. It was definitely squirrely with such strong gusts billowing in from the side (reports were sustained 20+ mph).
After all the sand had settled, Gulf Coast Tri Team had nabbed 7 of the top-10 spots and topped out the Overall, Master’s, Grand Master’s and Senior Grand Master’s divisions in the AG race. The Bonnie & Clyde award went to Johnny and Lisa Harrison, the husband and wife duo that pulled off the heist for his and hers Master’s honors. An anonymous team member who we’ll call Randy Walton narrowly edged out Chuck Babin for most beer tickets collected.
All in all, it was a spectacular Saturday morning. The wind was just an added element of challenge, and, if we’re honest, the challenge is what makes triathlon so appealing to so many people at different places in life - fast and not-so-fast, young and not-so-young, big and little, novice and veteran, able-bodied (whatever that means) and challenged athletes alike. Gratitude is the only appropriate response to the opportunity to participate in such an event in such an incredible setting.
The Gulf Coast Tri Team raced in their final team triathlon of the season this weekend at the Santa Rosa Island Triathlon. This is the largest local race the team schedules each year and competition is tough! Ending the season with a strong showing was the teams goal and the guys definitely pulled it off.
Eric Larson -- 4th Elite Division (5th overall)
Jared Moore -- 1st AG division (4th overall)
Johnny Harrison -- 1st Male Masters
Randy Walton -- 1st Male Grandmasters
Doug Jones -- 1st Male Senior Grand Masters
Caleb Earhart -- 1st 20-24M AG
Logan Roberts -- 3rd 25-29M AG
Scott Roberts -- 2nd 35-39M AG
Sam Hudson -- 2nd 40-44M AG
Chad Hon -- 1st 45-49M AG
Andrew Rothfeder -- 3rd 45-49M AG
Chuck Babin -- 2nd 55-59M AG
Terry Bailey -- 1st 60-64M AG
Rob Felty -- 5th 25-29M AG
Jeff Conrad -- 4th 40-44M AG
Look for next year's schedule and team roster to be published sometime around January 2015.