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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chicago Triathlon Race Report

1st Place Female TRI 3 Mid East Regional Paratriathlon Championship Chicago
"It is not about speed and gold medals, It's about refusing to be stopped." Amby Burfoot

I had the privledge today of racing with Dare 2 Tri at the Paratriathlon Mideast Regional Championship at the Chicago Triathlon.

Dare 2 Tri was founded in 2010 to give challenged athletes the opportunity to compete in triathlons.  They had asked me in March to be on their elite team, but I declined because of racing for my own Team CMT.

I see the Dare 2 tri athletes at local triathons and have attended their clinics. They have always considered me a part of their groups and always ask me to join in their group photo's even when I am in my Team CMT uniform. They are based in Chicago so today seemed like the perfect chance to represent for Dare 3 Tri.

Many of their twenty athletes are veterans so it was an honor to line up with them.  So here is a summary of the weekend activities.

Dare 2 Tri Race Team Chicago Paratriathlon Regional Championship

Pre Race
I was literally five feet from Hunter Kemper, Sarah Haskins and Andy Potts. There were doing a fan question session for their sponsor Toyota.  One of the Dare 2 Tri athletes got Hunter's autograph.
The expo was also fun. It was huge with some really interesting vendors.  I spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out by Cunningham fountain and checking out the race course.

I usually don't go to the pre race briefing, but I had time to kill so I went.  Got some great information about the bike course. In this race you had to stay to the left of the course and pass right. Also got the low down on the bad sections of the course, so I knew to adjust my race strategy to stay safe.  No surprises on race day because I heard all about the swim, bike and run at the meeting.  This race is split between two days, a kids race and super sprint on Saturday and the Sprint/International distances on Sunday. There are 9000 athletes racing, making this race the biggest triathlon in the country.

Race Morning
3:30 I am up and getting ready, out the door at 4 am. I hate the early morning starts. My wave # 2 was at 6:04 a.m.   What amazed me was how many volunteers were already at work when I arrived in transition at 4 am.  How early did they all have to get up to be in position at luggage check, on the swim course and in transition by 4 am? Everyone I met was helpful and friendly.  I tried to thank the volunteers throughout the day.  It was already warm at 4 am and the temperature would climb to 94 F by the time awards were given out at 10:30 a.m.

Swim Course
Since I never go to the pre-race briefing, I never know what the course is and am always asking about the course at the swim start. This time I knew this was a  1/2 mile point to point course in Munroe Harbor.  The bad news is we had to walk that 1/2 mile from transition to the start in bare feet.  The water was 71 F and it felt warm.  We had a sea wall on our left. I was warned about not hanging on the walls during the race briefing because the zebra mussels are sharp and can cut.  My wave only had 22 people which was great after the 99 athletes were in my wave in my last race.  I had an male athlete on my left and he followed me like a magnet. He kept bumping me and every time I moved he tracked me. He must have been citing off of me. I stopped so he could pass and then went toward the wall. It was so rough I went farther back on the course where I caught up with my magnetic swimmer and he tracked me all the way to the swim out.

It was a 1/4 mile run to transition.

Bike Course
Beautiful course with lake views and the sky line of Chicago. The road were not nearly as bad as reported in the pre race briefing. It was windy and I was tired. The course was also at least 13 miles.  The nice thing is the course was supported by bike marshal's that changed flats. I saw them helping several stranded athletes. My biggest fear in the bike is getting a flat, so this is a great service.

The run was flat and mostly along the lake.  The run is my slowest leg, but the one I am most sure of. Once I get to the run I know I am going to finish.. It wasn't a mistake free race, I turned on my watch too soon and then forgot to stop it at the end. I also ran past my bike in transition.  We were racked right on the edge on a fence and we had lots of space. It was easy to find, but in the excitement of the race I ran past it.  Still my effort was good enough for first place in the TRI 3 category. I even stayed around for the awards ceremony and hung out with my Dare 2 Tri buddies.  It was not a perfect race, but it was a perfect day racing with the athletes of Dare 2 Tri.   Many of these athletes are National Paratriathlon Champions and will be heading to London in a few weeks for the ITU Paratriathlon World Champships. Good luck to all of them!

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