SOS Humbles Again
SOS is one of the longest running and most uniquely challenging triathlons in the world. This was the going to be a great year for BCTC and myself as I felt good going into race day, we were interviewed the the NBC Sports production of the race. We had 4 members racing plus for the past 5 years we have adopted Don Griffin into our club and crewed for him at SOS. The other true members we had racing this year were Kevin McKale, Nelson Dunham & Lisa Kall. More on their performances later. For the past 3 years I have been fortunate to have at least 3 other BCTC members racing and each year we have rented a unique house, close to race site and have a great team dinner the night before the race as well as a kick ass after party on Sunday night.
SOS is truly a race of experience and this was year 6 for me, however each year is different at SOS mostly due to weather and lake conditions. Those conditions at first seemed to be good with air temps of 54 and water temps in the 70’s. Cramping is always an issue for me so this year a thought I had a great plan to deal with the cramps and hopefully minimize the cramps and hit my goal time of sub 5:30, which is only 6 minutes faster than my best time. I had done several race rehearsals in the Huub swim run suit I would wear while using a Xterra buoy to hold my shoes. I bought IceBug swim run shoes that don’t hold any water. When you can share your experience & learn from other Survivors that are willing to share their experiences it makes one of the toughest races in the world very rewarding.
The race starts with a 30 mile bike, the 1st 25 mile are fairly flat with some up & downs & a hairy S turn at mile 10, every year someone nearly crashes. At mile 25 you turn onto rt 45/55 & climb over 1000 ft for the last 5 miles to Minnewaska park where your crew waits for you takes your bike & sets your transition. The whole race is point to point. From this point you have to carry all your stuff you will need to get to the Survivor line. So the bike starts at the Ulster County Fairgrounds, this year Kevin & I planned to ride together as we did last year thru the bike course. That planned worked fine but little things possibly proved to turn into big things as I couldn’t clip in on my right side for about the 1st minute or so. I finally got clipped and caught up to Kevin and we were flying. By mile 15 my right calf started talking to me a little but I didn’t pay much mind but I did slow down a little and let Kevin go and rode the rest of the bike with Don. My bike time was 5 minutes slower than the previous year but I wasn’t too concerned as 1:35 was fast last year.
So after you get off the bike you run 4.6 miles on a loose gravel trail up Cardiac hill (aptly named) to lake Awosting for a 1.1 mile swim across the lake. This year thanks to a very warm summer with hardly any rain the lake was fairly warm about 73 degrees, however the air temps plunged into the upper 40’s. For the past 3 years I have gotten minor cramps on the run to the lake, however this year at the 1 mile mark I blew out my right calf. This dropped me to my right knee and right hand hit the ground to prevent me from falling on my face. I still tried to stay positive and took a minute to work it out and keep going. I dropped my pace to about a 9:30 pace and kept moving forward. I caught up to Doug from the Bistro who is a local and multiple time survivor. He kept me positive for the next 3 miles but with only 200 to go before the lake my calf cramped again not as bad as the first time so I walked it out got my Huub suit zipped-up at arrived at the lake.
The Awosting swims starts with a 3ft. plunge off a rock into 4ft. water. The 1st swim this year was a bit of a challenge with a serious head wind and about a foot chop. This caused more drag than normal with the buoy, in hind sight I should have only slightly inflated the buoy and stuck it between my legs. Now at about the 500 meter mark as I stopped to hang on my buoy and work out the cramp I found I was moving slightly backwards due to the wind and chop. Once I got back going again I was able to swim to about the 200 mark to go when I cramped again but this time it wasn’t quite as bad so a swam trough it although very slowly. The swim took 34 minutes, 5 minutes slower than my best time.
The 2nd run is a slightly hilly 5.5 miles to lake Minnewaska at this point the temp has dropped even further and later I was told a few had to drop at this point due to hyperthermia. The run starts with some short up hill sections and gorgeous views of the lake and Gunks. At this point I knew I had no shot at my goal time and the goal was now to just survive. The second half of the run is mostly downhill, however I could not get my pace better a 10 plus minute mile.
The 2nd swim is a long half mile, I didn't experience any cramping in Minnewaska but my pace was fairly slow. Getting out of Minnewaska is not easy as you have to climb several rock steps where I did cramp but at this point it was old hat and my time didn’t matter so I spent some time stretching and getting plenty of nutrition.
The next run is a grueling 8 mile lose gravel fire road run to Lake Mohonk & the majestic Mohonk Mtn. house. It starts with about a half mile or so of paved downhill that was really hurting my calves. Now the thought was don’t do any further damage walk when needed and get through it. This section is mostly flat event slightly down until mile 7 where you hit Godzilla, then when that finally flattens out you quickly hit the son of Godzilla. There is plenty support with aide stations roughly every 2 miles & that is the best way to breakdown the 8 mile run, The last 1/8 mile is gorgeous single track that opens up to lake Mohonk. This is a very happy place as you can hear Alex Sherwood welcoming the survivors to the survivor line and you know you are almost there.
One of the toughest parts of this swim was climbing over or under the split rail fence to get into the lake. I decided to keep my shoes on as I really didn’t care how fast my swim was and didn’t want to cramp in the process of taking them off & on. I never swam this section with my shoes on so I also wanted to see what it was like. This year’s winner had the 2nd place finisher hot on his tail going into Lake Mohonk and decided to keep his shoes on for the last swim. This was a great decision for Tim Clark because as Greg Binns was putting on his shoes Tim was running up to Skytop.
Now as you climb the 5 ft. rock climb out of Lake Mohonk all that is left is the 7/10th of a mile & a 400 ft. climb up to Skytop (Smiley Tower) & the Survivor line. They do give a separate award for the fastest run up to the tower as well as every other section. The last 5 years Don Griffin has won the Skytop run award, however this year Tim (the overall winner) knew he had to motor up the mountain to win the race and bettered Don’s Skytop run time by 2 seconds.
I ended up Surviving with my worst time of 6:36, but I had fun at the after party. Now it’s time to reflect and think about how to avoid these issues in 2019.
The rest of the BCTC crew all had great races. Kevin McKale in his 2nd attempt crushed the course in 5:22 good enough for 3rd in his brutally competitive AG. Lisa Kall in her 1st SOS crossed at 6:19 and Nelson Dunham worked through several cramping issues and Survived in 7:26 good enough for 2nd in his AG.
Registration opens on Halloween night at midnight. So stay up, eat all your kids candy & register for SOS 2019. Don't forget to register for IMathlete prior or the race will sell out before you complete both registrations and make sure your USAT card is good through September of 2019.
BCTC rents a distinctive house every year and we have a good group of crew members that always come up to support & party with us. Thank you to Shari Weston, Reg Schneider, Kevin Kall & Sian Kall for being this year’s Sherpas. Oh yes the party on Sunday night and the dinner on Saturday night are incredible. If this race is not on your Tri bucket list you better revise your list. http://sostriathlon.com/information/
Over 100 attendees, sponsors, guests and speaker met at the Feasterville Firehouse to exchange ideas, trade tips, get inspired and have a great time at our 4th annual Meet and Greet event. We heard from Steve "RemissionMan" Brown as our featured speaker and others. There were raffles and giveaways too. The night was capped with the raffle of a Trek bike. It was a fun night for all and we appreciate everyone's support!
Thank you to all our generous members, family and friends that came out to Erini Restaurant on November 20th to enjoy a night of wining & dining for a great cause. We had over 100 interesting Wines, Scotches, Bourbons and more to sample along with the delicous food prepared by the Chefs at Erini. Our charity partner this year was the Autism Cares Foundation located right here in Bucks County. ACF is a tremendous organization that is extremely active in Bucks county and brings crucial resources to many local Bucks County families affected by Autism.
We are excited to announce that this years event raised $1500 for AFC. Additionally we committed to partner again for the 2016 Wine & Dine event with ACF. BCTC also plans to work with ACF this coming Summer to lead bike rides on the canal path with those that ACF serves.
So if you missed this year's event save the date for next year. Friday, November 11th and check some pictures from this year's event.
SOTM Last Local Race of the Year
SOTM triathlon Race report from Regina Schneider
7-stage triathlon, trial run, road bike, chilly lake swim
SOTM was my first tri experience that had more than 2 transitions. This one had six and one of them was in a different location. It was a little intimidating logistically but I was looking forward to the challenge and the trail running (my favorite). This event did not disappoint as far as the trail running since I heard from past participants that the trails were great. They were a little on the technical side with roots and rocks, windy single-track, narrow man-made water crossings, short steep climbs and descents but all very do-able. XTERRA Jersey Devil that took place in April is also in the same park but there were so many fun trails there that we barely ran the same trails twice.
The weather was great. Transition was a buzz as participating BCTC members set up close to one another and were talking about setup and how they would handle each transition and how much FUNN it would be (Jen). After my run/bike/run transition was set up and swim/run transition bag was packed and dropped at the picnic table where it would magically show up at the lake and ready for me when I got there, we were off on our survival adventure.
I found that passing through transition so many times, having the swim-lake close by, and seeing many club members throughout the event fun and encouraging. Nervous as I was about the swim after hearing some horror/DNF stories from last year’s event, it was rejuvenating. It does pay to learn from others and the club has taught me much this year! I found practicing putting a wet suit on after running very helpful.
The event was well run, and race director Ross was very accommodating by switching me from the du to the tri after I asked. SOTM is definitely on my list of events to do again next year. Oh and if you are a beer drinker, they had 2 kegs of very tasty beer at the finish line! Not sure if that will happen every year, but it was one of the many highlights this year (for me anyway).
30th SOS was best yet
SOS is one of the longest running & in my opinion the best triathlon in the world. This was the 30th year of SOS & for me 3 times was a charm. It was a very special year not only because the weather held out & I had my best SOS yet, but also my wife & Nick crewed for me as well of Don Griffin, who also had a great race. Additionally fellow member Meg McCallion raced and came to SOS with her whole family as her crew. By the way Meg crushed her 1st SOS in 6:14.
SOS is truly a race of experience and when you can share your experience & learn from other Survivors that are willing to share their experiences it makes one of the toughest races in the world very rewarding.
The race starts with a 30 mile bike, the 1st 25 mile are fairly flat with some up & downs & a hairy S turn at mile 10, every year someone crashes. At mile 25 you turn onto rt 45/55 & climb over 1000 ft for the last 5 miles to Minnewaska park where your crew waits for you takes your bike & sets your transition. The whole race is point to point. From this point you have to carry all your stuff you will need to get to the Survivor line. I had a new plan this year to hopefully prevent cramping in the lakes by wearing Xterra Lava pants during the swims. I did have to carry the pants through the 18 plus miles of running, but this worked well & had very minor issues with cramping & virtually no cramping in the lakes. I wore my 1 piece kit & stuffed my shoes in the front on my stomach. The plan worked & I was able to take 20 minutes off my total swim times over the 2.1 miles in the 3 swims.
So after you get off the bike you run 4.6 miles on a lose gravel trail up Cardiac hill (aptly named) to lake Awosting for a 1.1 mile swim across the lake. This year thanks to a very warm Summer with hardly no rain the lake was fairly warm about 74 degrees, which starts with a 3ft. plunge off a rock into 7ft. water. The 1st swim was a little ominous this year with a little fog on the lake & overcast skies. But I was able to swim continuously across the 1.1 mile lake & took 10 plus minutes off my swim time from last year. I did get minor cramps exiting the lake while getting the Lava pants off & getting my shoes on. The 2nd run was a touch shorter this year as a trail was closed to maintenance. So what is normally 5.5 miles to lake Minnewaska was 5 miles & mostly down hill, however I did cramp several times on the is run. The 2nd swim is a half mile & again I didn't experience any cramping. Getting out of Minnewaska is not easy as you have to climb several rock steps where I did cramp slightly. The next run is a grueling 8 mile lose gravel fire road run to Lake Mohonk & the majestic Mohonk Mtn. house. It is mostly flat until mile 6 where you hit Godzilla hill, then when that finally flattens out you quickly hit the son of Godzilla. There is plenty support with aide stations every 2 miles & that is the best way to breakdown the 8 mile run, I had a better run this year taking 3 minutes off my time plus I stopped for a minute of so to help the 4th place woman who fell hard on a down hill section & was in a lot of pain. The last 1/4 mile is gorgeous single track that opens up to lake Mohonk, I did get a little to excited during this section & cramped up a little. The toughest part of this swim was climbing over the split rail fence to get into the lake. I wasn't quite as worried about cramping during the last swim this year, but I did feel everything starting to cramp as I tried to pick up the pace. I knew I was going to break the 6 hour mark with ease but someone from my AG jumped in the lake right behind me & he was a good swimmer. Now as you climb out of Lake Mohonk & it is a 5 ft. rock climb all that is left is the 7/10th of a mile & a 400 ft. climb up to Smiley Tower & the Survivor line. They do give a separate award for the fastest run up to the tower. The last 2 years Don Griffin has won this award. Everything came together perfectly this year & I finished in 5:36.
Registration opens on Halloween night at midnight. So stay up, eat all your kids candy & register for SOS 2016. Don't forget to register for IMathlete prior or the race will sell out before you complete both registrations. There is also a lottery so if you don't get in get in the lottery. If this race is not on your Tri bucket list you better revise your list. http://sostriathlon.com/information/
Race recap by Jen Cechi:The course for the EX2 was “challenging” to say the least. Definitely some skill, or just plain guts, was required.
The swim: not too shabby. Water temperature was just about right. The wave start was nicely distanced. Buoys were nice and big so you really couldn’t miss them. We had to get out and run on the beach between the loops for some reason. Besides the two vines/seaweed things that tried to wrangle my arm, the swim couldn’t have been better.
But after the swim, it went downhill, well uphill forever and then downhill. The start of the bike was a nice, uphill on the road, and then things got technical. The first part of the trail starts up about 7 steps. Yes, up the steps. I am sure the experienced riders were able to ride up them with no problem, but myself, it was definitely a struggle to push/carry the bike up the steps. The trail continued onto a single track path with tons of tree roots, nice view of the lake, no elevation. Very pleasant besides the tree roots. After the rooted path, we continued up a rocky (which i thought was excessively rocky, until I got to the rest of the course) hill. It was doable for most, a slower pace for myself. We left that hill behind and headed on another winding single track path with lots of tree roots, not many rocks and following the lake. We had a nice stream crossing on a nice wooden bridge and then the nice-ness of the trail became a tad uglier. Up a smaller hill that was steeper in one spot but over all just a small hill, some roots, no rocks. On a bright side, at the top of this little hill there was a nice aid station with gel, water and first aid essentials and friendly volunteers. Looked at the GPS and realizing that was only about 2 miles into it (oh no!). Onto a paved camping road through nice campsites up a much longer hill. It could have been worse, it could have been rocky but it was paved (whoa!). Really steep. On my second loop, the runners actually were passing me up the hill, not a good thing. The road soon ended up a pretty steep climb, rocky but not as rocky as what was to come. Made a nice left onto what could have been an access road so easier riding. A I am not comfortable with down hills, there was a downhill that was somewhat rocky but not too bad, doable for me at a slow pace. Then at the bottom of the downhill you look up and see a big rocky, steep in several places, hill in front of you, I believe this was Evitts Revenge (who is Evitt and what did I do to him that he needed revenge was my thought after the hill!). I saw many bikers bike the hill and many bikers walk the hill. Half way up the hill there was another aid station with more great volunteers but stopping was not an option for me as the hill continued up and I was afraid starting again would not be an option. We went up the rocky climb that was hard to navigate and even harder to find a path that didn’t have so much as a pebble in your way. Up we went and just when things look good as you were at the top, bam, the downhill was even rockier and had more boulders and obstacles to close your eyes and hold on over. After your hands are cramping due to holding the brakes so much and hoping the brakes hold, you are at the bottom (whoa!) with volunteers telling you the hill is over (yeah, ok, it was more like YEAH). Up a small smooth hill to more campground access roads. You were able to bomb down the access roads, all downhill, all smooth and just glad as heck to be out of the woods. At the bottom of the paved hill, you turn back into the woods to ride around the lake some more. Minimal elevation, minimal roots, and my favorite, minimal rocks!! It was a single track windy curvy smooth, compared to the rest of the loop, trail. Over a couple of wooden bridges, down a concrete bank and back up a couple of times but nothing really technical in this portion. It was actually fun and quick. We were then popped out onto a grassy field which could have been a tad tricky with the children running around but it was well managed.
The Run: ugh, and double ugh. Couldn’t wait to get off the bike but … be careful what you wish for I guess. It was more of a mountain climb, gazelle hopping event. The first portion was on a single track trail, up a hill but nothing to climb over, jump over or scramble over. A nice trail. Then it went onto a portion of the bike trail, up the paved hill through the campsite and up the rocky hill. Then, oh then, it all changed. We were sent down a hill that had bigger rocks than expected and prime for ankle twisting. Some had moss on them. Then across a wooden bridge and up a steep hill that had tree roots as steps. You go back down a hill with more rocks to navigate and then, the wall of rocks/boulders/gargantuan stone that literally would have been easier with a boost from someone. Up we climbed and wondered if we were even on the correct path as the running was not nearly as well marked as the biking. When we finally crested the True Mountain there was a volunteer telling us the rocks were over and it was all downhill and downhill it was: partial trial, partial road, and then the finish line.
Strong Showing by BCTC at Escape the Cape!
A stormy start to the day, turned out bright for the BCTC. We had 10 athletes compete in the International event and 9 more compete in the Sprint event The start was delayed due to a thunderstorm and everyone got drenched, but by the time the first swimmers made the leap off of the ferry, the sun was shining bright and hot. Wet roads made the bike portion of the event a bit more challenging and this year’s run course, included a second loop on the soft sand, including 2 dune climbs for added excitement, (thanks Delmo!). The BCTC tent was a welcome respite from the heat after the race. Many thanks to Sue Graf who captained our team and hosted the team dinner Saturday night at the Inn of Cape May. Sue, Shari Weston and Brian Jones all served as volunteers, supporting all the athletes.
Competing for BCTC in the International distance:
1. Jennifer Cecchi
2. Kevin Delaney
3. Nelson Dunham
4. Ross Felice
5. Rebekah Gates
6. Regina Schneider
7. Bill Stout
8. Matthew Stout
9. Sandra Yewdall
10. Ryan Carlin
1. Patrick Carlin
2. Stew Conard
3. Kevin Grevera
4. Christine Hussey
5. William Hussey
6. Brian Jones
7. Tricia Lentz
8. Wendy Pippen Fesmire
9. Brian Voorhees
Congratulations to the 5 BCTC members who got on the podium! 1st place finishers also received a complimentary bottle of Focus Wine!
Nelson Dunham – 1st in age group
Bill Stout – 2nd in age group and 5th overall!
Ryan Carlin – 2nd in age group
Stew Conard – 2nd in age group and 7th overall!
Kevin Grevera – 2nd in age group
BCTC was well represented at the 2015 Jersey Devil Xterra. For most it was their first off road triathlon & for Jen Cecchi it was her first triathlon period. Coming out to race was Andrew Lawlor, Brian Jones, Reg Schneider, Casey Phillips, Wendy Fesmire, Jen Cecchi, Kevin Delaney & myself.
Early concerns with the weather ended up being not an issue at all and it ended up being a perfect weather day for racing. Believe it or not the lake temp was advertised as 59 and did not feel cold at all.
The swim was a half mile 2 loop course in a fairly shallow lake. This is the same lake as Survival of the Mills. All seemed to fair well in the swim although most of us had issues at the turn buoys dealing with the traffic. When you exit the swim you have a good quarter mile run back to transition. Most bring what ever shoes they will be biking in to put on for the run to transition. The bike course is also 2 loops totaling 15 miles of the beautiful trails at Wells Mills park. The course is fairly flat but has plenty of sand deep in sections that more than makes up for the lack of elevation. The bike course is not very technical however there was several deep mud pits a few of which that were filled with water that was nearly impossible to ride through especially on the 2nd loop. Kevin reported a women in front of him was submerged in one of the deeper mud pits nearly up to her neck.
The 3.5 mile run course is the most technical part of the race the trails are tight with lots of twists and tight turns, water, plank crossings, roots, tress to climb over & duck under. But they are some of the most beautiful trails in NJ. At times you run through narrow parts of the same lake you swam in earlier. Just when you think you are done you hear the finish festivities, you see the finish line & the markers run you right by and back into the woods for another half mile.
Everyone finished the race in one piece and all had a blast doing so. Thank you to Andrew who was our race captain and made sure we had the tent set right at the finish line. See all the results at http://raceforum.com/2015/xterraoa.htm
Del Val Du Kicks Off 2015 Season
The local multisport season kicked off this past weekend with the Del Val Du. Congrats & thank you to all who came out to support the first Club Race. The following members had exceptional races:
Bob Burke – 5th fastest bike time & 1st AG
Matt Wolf- 2nd AG
Lisa James- 5th AG
Ross Felice- 3rd AG
Shari Weston- 1st AG
Reg Schneider- 4th AG
Mark Eiler- 3rd AG
Howie Lee- 1st AG & completed his 1st Mtn. bike ride after the race w/ no broken bones
Nelson Dunham- 5th AG
Also Alex Ochman had a great race at the Shad run as the overall winner in the blazing time of 17:53. Lisa Ochman & Alex are expecting their first baby this week we wish them the best. Lisa may just give birth at the 5k Wednesday night.
SOS should be on your Tri Bucket List
Yes every triathlete that has done at least a half Ironman should have SOS on their bucket list, it is one of the most beautiful races that will ever torture you for 5 plus hours. It took me just over 6 this year 6:01 to be exact. I would have broke 6 as was my goal if not for the crimpling cramps in the last lake with about 50 yards to go. But this is a race of experience & if you do it once you will want to do it every year & try to improve your time which I did by over 18 minutes from last year. The race starts with a 30 mile bike, the 1st 25 mile are fairly flat with some up & downs & a hairy S turn at mile 10, every year someone crashes. At mile 25 you turn onto rt 45/55 & climb over 1000 ft for the last 5 miles to Minnewaska park where your crew waits for you takes your bike & sets your transition. Thank you to Jimmy Balmer who was a great crew this year. The whole race is point to point. From this point you have to carry all your stuff you will need to get to the Survivor line. My plan of stuffing my shoes in the back of my shorts worked well & had no issues with me feet. So after you get off the bike you run 4.6 miles on a lose gravel trail up Cardiac hill (aptly named) to lake Awosting for a 1.1 mile swim across the lake. This year thanks to some warm early September weather the lake was fairly warm about 70 degrees, which starts with a 3ft. plunge off a rock into 7ft. water. This year the cramps waited till about the half way point & were not as debilitating as last year but they did slow me down again, so again I had to swim more toward the shore & stop a few times to stand on a rock & work out my leg cramps. So after a 38 plus minute 1st swim I finally got to the 5.5 mile trail run to lake Minnewaska for a 1/2 mile swim across that lake. The 2nd run feels much better & is less hilly & I was able to take 4 minutes off last years time. My 2nd swim was much better & didn't experience any cramping. Getting out of Minnewaska is not easy as you have to climb several rock steps where I did cramp. The next run is a greuling 8 mile lose gravel fire road run to Lake Mohonk. It is mostly flat until mile 6 where you hit Godzilla hill, then when that finally flattens out you quickly hit the son of Godzilla. There is plenty support with aide stations every 2 miles. The last 1/4 mile is gorgeous single track that opens up to the majestic Mohonk Mountain House & lake Mohonk. The toughest part of this swim was climbing over the split rail fence to get into the lake. I wasn't quite as worried about cramping during the last swim this year, that was a mistake as this was my worst swim of the 3 as I cramped with only 50 or so yards to go as I lost the chance of breaking 6 hours. Now as you climb out of Lake Mohonk & it is a 5 ft rock climb all that is left is the 7/10th of a mile 400 ft. climb up to Smiley Tower & the Survivor line. They do give a separate award for the fastest run up to the tower. Registration is this than a week away on Halloween night at midnight. So stay up, eat all your kids candy & register for SOS 2015. Don't forget to register for IMathlete prior or the race will sell out before you complete both registrations. http://sostriathlon.com/information/