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Race Reports - 1997

This page chronicles the races of the year 1997. 1997 was a great year for racing. I found a great variety of races, all within a 3 to 4 hour drive of Austin. As usual, I eagerly attended races of Olympic distance and longer.

Here are the details on the races.

  • Sunmart Texas Trail Endurance Run (50M Run), Did Not Finish, Huntsville, TX, 13 Dec 1997.

    Twenty five miles into the race I had a feeling this would be a struggle. Thirty eight miles into the race I called it quits.

    Three weeks prior to the race I felt a tightening on the outside of my left knee - I had developed tendonitis. I tried to rest my knee and was able to work my way up to 16 miles the week before the race. Yet on race day it started tightening again. I monitored it carefully during the race trying not to aggrevate it. Yet midway during th race I had to make a descision. I felt that I could have finished the race, but with the expense of being injured for a few months. The other alternative was to drop out and rest and recover.

    A bit of a let-down after a fine season, but I will recover.

  • The Great Floridian (2.4M Swim/112M Bike/26.2M Run), (12:14:161:25:28/4:32/5:59:20/6:54/4:38:00 ), (35/112 AG, 157/708 OV), Clermont, FL, 25 Oct 1997.

    Despite difficulties in all three events and my slowest ironman split, I have a great day and an extremely fun race. I walk away from this event with little soreness, no problems, and nothing but the elation of doing a thing I love with a lot of fun-loving and like-minded people.

    My swim is plagued by broken goggles at mile marker 0.5. I swim the rest of the course with my eyes closed, surfacing every 10 strokes to navigate to the next buoy. My bike is plagued by a broken shifter post. I hold the shifters in my hands and manage to finish the course in less than 6 hours. My run is plagued by a sandspur in the outside pad of my right foot that I cannot see and cannot remove. Luckily, I only feel the pain when the road banks sharply to the right. I finish with my slowest ironman ever, but with the feeling that I could have been 45 minutes faster if it were not for these problems.

    As always, Fred Sommers puts on a great, well-organized event. One great touch was a pair of floodlights pointed out toward the swim course. These giant blobs of bright light silouetted against the dark tree background are the best swim navigation aids ever invented!

    More photos are located on the Photos Page .

  • Austin Open Water Swim (5k Swim), (1:17:52), (3/3 AG), Austin, TX, 14 Sep 1997.

    This is a beautiful tour of downtown Austin from the constant-level Town Lake. Conditions are calm and placid. The event is much like swimming in one of the lagoons at a ride in Disney World. As you gently glide through the warm water, people on the shore are drinking their Sunday morning coffee. They look at you, and smile, and wave. You skim by majestic, overhanging oak trees. The sun rises over the mountain.

    After the first mile, I realize I am swimming alone. I wonder if I am in last place. At the halfway turn-around I glance around me and see two large packs, one in front of me and one behind. I resolve to catch the pack in front, a gap of about two hundred yards.

    I concentrate on form, and I start to push my aerobic limit. I see a women near the back of the crowd; I will catch her; she is my prey. With every time she reverts to breast stroke to navigate, I close the distance a few lengths, but she is a better swimmer and pulls away from me in the crawl stroke. I double my efforts. I will catch her.

    With a quarter mile to go, I am within twenty five yards of her. I see the final buoy and a sharp left turn to the shore. I plan my strategy. I will cut the corner tightly, and sprint the last length to shore.

    She swings wide. I corner tightly against the bouy. The race is on. I push as hard as I can. I race up the ramp and hand in my number. I am victorious.

    Then I turn to congratulate my competitor. At this point I feel a little shame taking a place away from an 11 year old girl.

  • Texas Hill Country Triathlon (1.5M Swim/48M Bike/10M Run), (4:34:15 43:34,2:11,2:22:18,1:10,1:25:01 20/66 AG),
    New Braunfels, TX, 06 Sep 1997.

    A fantastically difficult course running over hill after hill around Canyon Lake in Hill Country... Luckily, the conditions are nice with a smooth 82 degree lake and little wind. Many are deceived by the bike, pushing hard, only to end up walking the run. The run is equally hilly, and the merciless sun beats down upon you the entire way.

    I run the race with the onset of the flu. My run is poor as I battle cramps in my diaphragm. I finish and immediately have to seek shade and ice in order to cool down. Goose bumps, pale, clammy skin, and nausea indicate heat exhaustion.

    Nevertheless, the course is absolutely gorgeous and scenic, and the event is among the best supported with themes at most aid stations: UFOs, South Pacific, Graveyard, and Woodstock. The pre and post race parties are tremendous with lots of food and a nice video show celebrating the tenth anniversary of the event.

  • Wool Capital Triathlon (1.5k Swim/40k Bike/10k Run), (2:22:44 27:46,1:09:26,45:50 7/27AG,51/173),
    San Angelo, TX, 10 Aug 1997.

    An enjoyable race in a beautiful west Texas town. The swim is in the cool, clean Concho river beneath willow trees and canyon-like cliffs. The bike is fast and flat with wide roads and well marked corners. The run is off-road and leads up and over a grueling set of hills. As the day's heat sets in and reflects off the red clay soil, many runners are forced to walk the last few miles. I gut it out and finish in 2:22:XX and am happy.

    The organization and the host hotel, the La Quinta Inn, are superb. For dog lovers, this hotel allows pets and there were many for legged guests: boxers, labs, terriers, beagles, and our own Harriet spectating her second race.

  • Capital of Texas Tri (~1.5k Swim/1k Run/15M Bike/5k Run), (1:45:26 14/83AG,63/375ML,80/556),
    Austin, TX, 27 July 1997.

    Arguably, this is the toughest sprint triathlon in the nation. What is billed as a 0.5 mile swim requires 22 minutes. (I finish a 1500m swim in this time). The swim is followed by a transition and a 1k run up a steep hill. The mini run is followed by another transition and a 15M bike through at least 12 tough climbs, some requiring several minutes to top, others requiring standing on the pegs. Then, a third transition and a 5k run with 4 steep hills. Top it all off with 86 degree water and 90 degree air temperatures. I run with leaden feet. Tough!

    Nevertheless, the hometown triathlon is well run and has plenty of water on the run and plenty of sandwiches, cola, water and CytoMax at the finish. I finish this race feeling like I have run an Olympic Tri or more.

  • Advantage Texas Triathlon (1M Swim/6.4M Run/21M Bike), (2:09:17 21:49,47:42,59:46 10/44AG,47/335)
    Boerne, TX, 13 July 1997.

    This is a very enjoyable race for many reasons. First of all, the course is a great change of pace with the run as the second event and the ride as the third. The run is cross country for a mile or so as it winds its way along the grassy hills of I-10. The bicycle can almost be said to be cross country as the road surface is quite rough, gravelly and filled with pot holes. Despite the road surface, the views are beautiful as the bike course winds its way up and down Hill Country.

    Second of all, the race directors do a wonderful job with the pre and post race events - not bad for a local, small town event. Prior to the event we get three sky divers, and after the event we get a band, good local beer, and lots of food. Not just bananas, but substantial sandwiches, pierogies, and all the soda and sports drinks you could want.

    Finally, I enjoy the race by making a good effort - an enjoyable thing after crashing and burning in the previous race. I power evenly through the swim, I catch many people on the run, and I scream like a madman in the last mile of the bike with the long downhill descent and the wind at my back. Ahhh, what a fine day!

  • Buffalo Springs Lake (1.2m Swim/56m Bike/13.1m Run), (5:43:40 36:58,2:38,2:52:53,1:48,2:09:53 53/85AG,278/492), Lubbock, TX, 29 June 1997.

    Everyone is entitled to a bad race once in a while, even veterans. As I often say, racing is like taking an exam, and you can take the pain in one big lump on race day, or you can take it in tiny bits by preparing and training in the days leading to the event.

    This event was difficult for me. The course beat me, chewed me up, spat me out, and knocked me down. I was underprepared for this course and finished in pain in 5:46:40.

    The course is a tough one. The bike is mostly flat with 8-10 half mile ascents of 10% grade as the road winds its way out and back across scenic Horseshoe Bend and Yellow House Canyons. Nearly all stood on the pegs. This year we also had 95 degree weather and steady 20 mph winds, so the flats were just as challenging. The run is mostly out in the open with no trees. There are 4-5 half mile ascents of about 10% grade.

    Part of the trouble was the "Race Day" sports drink served during the bike. I never used this drink before, and it sat in my stomach and would not go down. By the time I began the run I had no energy. Even when I attempted to while the time away by singing a song, I could not think of ANY song lyrics. Others also complained of stomach problems, and I saw 3-4 people vomiting on the run. After washing down as much water as I could drink, I felt my energy return, running when possible, walking through the rest stops and up the hills.

    I came away from the race relearning a hard lesson. Prepare hard for the race and the race will be less hard.

  • Gulf Coast Triathlon (1.2m Swim/56m Bike/13.1m Run), (4:57:06 33:46,3:47,2:40:49,2:47,1:35:39 79/204AG,337/1292), Panama City Beach, FL, 11 May 1997

    A very windy and overcast day. Despite decent times in the swim, bike, and run, Adam Gruman demolishes me by a margin of 18 minutes. I finish with a 4:57:06. What is more amazing to me is that Adam, who normally loses time to me in the run, gained time on all three events - a thorough thrashing.

    Nevertheless, this event is a great mini-vacation. I meet old friends from Boca Raton, Gainsville, Atlanta, Memphis and Austin. The party atmosphere is top notch and the food, the bands, the expos, and the race-night fireworks all make this event another special event in my career.

  • The Kona 'N Texas Triathlon (1.5k Swim/40k Bike/10k Run), Clear Lake, TX, 13 Apr 1997.

    38 degrees, 20 mile per hour winds, 62 degree water: that describes the tenor of this race. More of a battle against the elements than against each other.

    Clear Lake is a coastal town near Houston. The host hotel and swim is directly across Route 346 from the Johnson Space Center ("Houston, we have a problem.") The bike course is flat. The run is on NASA Road 1, the perimeter road around the space center. Old Mercury, Gemini, and Saturn V rockets are visible from the road.

    This was nearly the coldest triathlon I ever attempted. (I say nearly because the first tri that I did in May of 1984, the Jersey Shore Triathlon, had a water temperature of 55 degrees.) Luckily, the race director provided stationary bikes for warming up. I pedaled with about 10 other cyclists in the stiff wind until I was giving off heat. Then I plunged into the chilly waters of Clear Lake. Thankfully I had a wet suit; many wore long john suits and neoprene headgear. Others did not. Two swimmers were pulled from the water and treated for hypothermia.

    The bike course was no better with stiff 20 mph winds. I wore three cycle jerseys, one long sleeve, and still my fingernails were blue. There were some tremendous potholes and seams in the road. Mountain bikes skills came in handy. Many people lost bottles or tires at the more difficult sections. I could not feel my feet from the numbness, and I kept my pace up to try to warm up. Still, it was cold and my muscles were not very supple.

    At last came the run. For two miles, I did not feel my feet. When they did finally warm, I felt many rocks and twigs in my socks. I finished the event and felt good. This was an extremely tough race against the elements, but I held a moderate pace during the entire event, and had no problems with mechanical difficulty, fear, or doubt.

Other Races

Follow the links to race reports from the given year.

1998, 1997, 1996, 1995.

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