Red Hills Triathlon, Tallahassee, FL - 7:30 am
The Gulf Coast Tri Team kicked off its third year with an awesome race at the Red Hills Triathlon in Tallahassee on Saturday April 4th. Red Hills always provides a great early season test as it draws top competition from all along the Gulf Coast, Tallahassee and even some racers from the more southern reaches of Florida. This year was no exception but the Team was up to the challenge. Red Hills is one of the more picturesque venues as the swim and run take place within Maclay Gardens State Park while the bike course exits the Park in search of every hill in the vicinity.
Most of the Team arrived early enough Friday to get together for a Team meal and to catch up a bit on what everyone had done during the off season. Looking around the table it was clear that everyone had been training hard through the Winter and looked fit and ready for race season to start.
The weather for this race is always unpredictable....sometimes in the 40s and other times in the 80s. Saturday morning was a bit warm but the overcast skies made it an ideal morning for racing. A quick look around the transition area confirmed that there were a lot of strong competitors and everyone seemed ready to get the day started. After a little more work setting up transition it was time to get a warm up run in and then to head to the Lake. The water in the Lake was low 70s and wetsuit legal. Certainly chilly when you first enter but the chill was quickly forgotten after a short warm up. The horn sounded and the first wave went off at 7:30am. Before long the Lake was full of racers and transition was buzzing with racers heading out onto the bike course.
The bike course is more challenging than what is typically encountered on the Gulf Coast and keeps you working hard for the full 16 miles. While the bike course is a big loop there seem to be far more uphill miles than downhill. Sam Hudson smoked the course with the fastest bike split of the day on his way to winning the Masters division. It is clear that the Team was ready for the course as all 11 members placed within the top 26 bike splits!
The run course has its' own challenges. After heading up a short hill out of transition the course is a series of rolling hills for the first mile before heading into the woods of the Park for about 1.25 miles of some pretty technical trails before returning to the pavement for the stretch to the finish. The trail section always requires runners to slow their pace but Eric Larson navigated it better than anyone else to notch the top run split of the day on the 5K course in 17:15.
Following the race everyone was quick to check the results and it was clear that the Team had represented itself well. GCTT claimed 5 of the overall top 10 finishes and 11 of the top 24! In addition to Sam's win in the Masters division Johnny Harrison claimed Grandmasters. Age Group winners included Allen Stanfield, Eric Larson, Andrew Rothfeder, Randy Walton and Doug Jones. Rob Felty, Chris Knerl and Scott Roberts all claimed podium spots as well. Jared Moore finished 13th overall but just missed the podium in the stacked 30-34 age group.
Everyone seemed pleased with their performance for this stage of the season. No time for rest though as the Team will have a big turnout at the Traditions Triathlon in Biloxi on Saturday April 11th. Always a great event put on by Team sponsor www.runandtri.com Rumor has it that a wager may be brewing between Sam and Allen as Sam, despite his advanced age, was able to resoundingly beat Allen by 1 second at Red Hills. Race fast! Stay safe. See you at Traditions.
Red Hills overall results: http://www.racesmith.com/results/2015results/RedHillsTriathlon040415oa.html
Red Hills age group results: http://www.racesmith.com/results/2015results/RedHillsTriathlon040415ag.html
Checkout the photos on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/GulfCoastTriTeam