by Dom Zambrano
The alarm goes off at 4am, my feet seemingly set to autopilot drag me to the car, and my two state journey from Florida begins. For those of you who don’t know the Traditions triathlon is held in the beautiful Traditions subdivision in southern Mississippi.
Transition opens as the starry night sky gives way to the warm orange hue of sunrise. The athletes flock in and begin their pre-race routines which include everything from heavy metal in the car to yoga on the lawn. Finally, the clock strikes 7:50 and the National Anthem is played while the flag is waving and teeth are chattering. The air is 50F and the water is hovering above 70F. The athletes are all in neoprene and lined up like seals at Sea World. One by one being released into the lake. The bike leg is just as we all remember which is hilly and quite spirited. The hum of the carbon wheels echoes through the trees as the riders navigate the out-and-back course. A quick lap around the parking lot and it’s time to hop off the bike and onto the trails. The run course takes a scenic tour through the neighborhood where families are cheering from the porches and the cowbells ring. This inspiration soon fades as athletes are tossed into the short section of technical dirt trail eventually spitting onto Traditions main drive. One small hill, an aid station, and a wooden bridge later one can hear the finish line cheers and music. Straighten up and put on a smile for the finish line because you are outside doing what you love with 300 of your new best friends.
Thank you to the GCTT sponsors and especially Run-N-Tri for putting on such great early-season event and to Pro Cycle & Tri for providing bike support! This was my first triathlon in 2015 and has been my season opener ever since. The great volunteer and event sponsor support make for a safe, fun, and fast event! I guess you could say it has become quite the…wait for it….tradition.
Until next time be safe, have fun, and race hard!
Results link: http://www.splitmastertiming.com/assets/2017/Traditions%20Final%20Splits.pdf
Athlete Race Report - 6th Annual Traditions Triathlon (04/09/2016)
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
Sunfish Triathlon – Meridian, MS – 7/11/15
This weekend the GCTT made its debut at the Sunfish Triathlon in Meridian, MS. This mid-July race typically brings HOT temperatures and this year’s race was no exception. Even the water temperature was a balmy 92 degrees.
This also marked the 29th running of the very popular Sunfish Triathlon, attracting a fast field of participants from all over the Southeast. The race started with a 1/3 mile swim in beautiful Lake Bonita followed by a 17 mile bike through some very deceiving hills. The event finished with a steamy 5k run around the lake.
A great feature of this race was the $100 cash prize awarded for the fastest participant in each of the three disciplines so even before the starting gun went off the competition was heating up. Rob, Allen, and Sam would all be chasing the swim split since Joey would not be competing (according to Joey it was Rob’s for the taking). Matt was planning to crush the field on the bike. In the absence of Eric the run split would also be up for grabs by the runner who could survive the heat with a swift run. When all the dust settled Sam would take home the cash for the fastest swim edging out Rob by only 21 seconds. Matt narrowly missed the top bike split by the tiniest of margins (8 seconds). The run split was taken with a blazing fast time (albeit questionable, story for another time) of 16:44 by an unknown from Louisiana.
Even with a stacked field the team placed 7 members in the top 22, and 4 in the top 11! Allen would yet again cross the finish line first and take the overall win with a smoking fast time of 1:10:52. This race along with Heatwave marked Allen’s second top podium finish of the year. Johnny grabbed the Grand Masters Title to keep his hot streak going. Doug rebounded from his Texas injury by taking home the Senior Masters trophy. Several others also took home hardware.
Full team results are as follows:
1st – Allen Stanfield, Overall Champion
6th – Sam Hudson, 1st AG
8th – Caleb Earhart, 1st AG
11th – Johnny Harrison, Grand Masters
16th – Rob Felty, 1st AG
21st – Matt Storr, 5th AG
22nd – Kevin Self, 5th AG
30th – Doug Jones, Senior Masters
64th – Terry Bailey, 3rd AG
Awesome job of racing in what proved to be a very fast field!!! Complete results along with video of each participant crossing the finish line can be found here.
Post-race activities included frosty beverages and pizza as well as the always “healthy” Popeye’s fried chicken. A good time was had by all! Next team race will be the all popular Sandestin Tri on August 22nd.
Tradition's Triathlon - Biloxi, MS - 4/26/2014 8:00 AM
The lead-up to this 4th iteration of the Tradition's Triathlon was markedly less unnerving as the forecasted temperatures were not in the 30's as they were last year. With the 600-yard swim in Tradition's Lake ruled wetsuit-legal, racers were afforded a strategic choice - buoyancy-boosting wetsuit or T1-time-trimming. It appeared most opted for the neoprene swimwear. Teammate Rob "Philanthropist" Felty, however, was one of the minority who opted out and, arguably, despite his notable history as an aquatic Nittany Lion donated as many extra seconds in the water as he invested in post-race raffle tickets. Imagine Andy Potts not posting the fastest swim on the day.
The bike course is certainly challenging for a Gulf Coast race with about 650' of climb over the 17-mile trek. The race venue is just secluded enough to give the impression that the course is closed to traffic creating a very safe course for aggressive riding (excluding that last sandy, sharp turn into Transition...under no circumstance should any racer attack at this point on the course).
The run course is certainly a break from normalcy for most sprint-distance races. What starts (and finishes) in a serene, posh residential development quickly detours onto an undulating trail (with some portions showcasing the iconic Mississippi mud), which opens up onto the Freeway for a rolling out-and-back. One last pass through the wooded trail and finishers are greeted by the redolent aroma of Waffle House waffle batter.
Every race touts their post-race party as "the best". While I am not qualified to award that title, I can say emphatically that the Tradition's post-race festivities are a lot of fun. A relaxed setting, quality-grub (some healthful options in addition to the usual cookies), and good camaraderie create a backyard-bar-b-que/neighborhood bloc party vibe.
The awards this year were functional - engraved glass mugs. And the Gulf Coast/Pro Cycle & Tri Team collected quite a few occupying eight of the top 10 overall spots. Eric Larson took the top overall spot followed closely by Allen Stanfield, and Sam Hudson rounded out the podium (and topped the Master's division). Also notable was Randy Walton's Grandmaster's win. The only team member who returned home without a mug was Doug Jones who sacrificially donated his 1st Place AG mug after a mix-up resulted in a racer in another division not receiving their hard-earned award. He was not wearing a shirt at the time of donation.
Overall, Tradition's is a great early-season race and certainly worthy of making an annual tradition.
2014 Tradition's Triathlon - 4/26/14
The Pro Cycle & Tri Gulf Coast Triathlon Team raced at their headline event this weekend - The Tradition's Triathlon in Tradtion, MS. The team had their strongest race performance since it was founded by sweeping the top 8 finishers overall! Congrats to Eric Larson for his 1st place overall finish!
A special thanks to Run-N-Tri, the host and main sponsor for the race. Thanks to them we made the Tradition's Triathlon our headline race for 2014.
25-29 - Rob Felty - 1st AG (5th OA)
25-29 - Eric Larson - 1st OVERALL
25-29 - Logan Roberts - 2nd AG (23rd OA)
30-34 - Allen Stanfield - 2nd OVERALL
30-34 - Jared Moore - 1st AG (4th OA)
35-39 - Evan Malone - 2nd AG (20th OA)
40-44 - Sam Hudson - 3rd OVERALL
45-49 - Lance Steed - 2nd AG (8th OA)
45-49 - Chad Hon - 1st AG (6th OA)
50-54 - Johnny Harrison - 4th AG (27th OA)
50-54 - Randy Walton - 1st AG (7th OA)
55-59 - Chuck Babin - 2nd AG (44th OA)
60-64 - Terry Bailey - 2nd AG (39th OA)
60-64 - Doug Jones - 1st AG (14th OA)
Complete results - http://www.splitmastertiming.com/assets/2014%20Traditions%20Final%20with%20Splits%202.pdf
Out next race is The Grandman Triathlon in Fairhope, AL. See y'all there May 31!
The Traditions Triathlon - 4/6/2013
Today the Gulf Coast Tri Team made their second appearance of 2013 at the Traditions Triathlon in Tradition, MS. It was a beautiful day for a race, a well organized event, and overall successful day for the team. We are all happy to congratulate team member Billy Striepeck on his 1st place overall!
Results for the race are posted here: http://www.splitmastertiming.com/assets/TRADITIONS%20TRI%20FINAL%20DIVISION%20RESULTS.pdf
Our next race is only 2 weeks away - The Mullet Man Triathlon in Pensacola, FL at the Flora-Bama!