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Race Result

Racer: Kevin Kunkel
Race: Sherando Lake Sprint
Date: Saturday, October 15, 2005
Location: Waynesboro, VA
Race Type: Triathlon - Sprint
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 1:39:31
Overall Place: 19 / 364
Age Group Place: 4 / 29
Comment: Broken nose and lip to end the season: priceless

Race Report:

Ahhh…last race of the year, the last report of the year. Now I have an off season of peroneal tendonitis rehab to look forward to. I’ll try to do my best to make the report as informative and entertaining as possible. After reading some of the recent reports, it can be quite daunting to keep up both literally and figuratively with all you articulate and eloquent writers and accomplished triathletes.


My pre-race for the Sherando Lake Sprint (I use this term loosely as you’ll read through the report) was a 163 mile drive starting at 5AM to get me down to Sherando Lake which is about 10 miles south of Waynesboro (for those of you familiar with the Tour de Skyline). I made it down there by 7:40AM which tells you I was looking out for THE MAN the whole way.

The area is really pretty. I wish I would have had the chance to camp there. I didn’t have a chance to drive the bike course but in driving to the race site you get to see about ½ of it. It didn’t seem so bad—from the car (more on that later). Suffice it to say, that there were no steep climbs but rather very long low grade climbs (the most deceptive and difficult for me).

SWIM (16:48; 109th of 336 [Supposed to be 750m, more like 1000m])

There was a definite chill in the air, so I knew the water would be refreshing to say the least. It’s amazing, three weeks ago I was at Smith Mountain Lake where the water was 80 degrees and thus not wetsuit legal and here I was at Sherando where that morning it was announced that the water temp was 62! It was 70 48 hours before…yikes! I was wishing I had brought my sleeved wetsuit rather than the sleeveless. I didn’t feel so bad when I realized about 10 were going without wetsuit all together! The course was supposed to be a 750m rectangle using 6 buoys that goes around an island. Instead, they only had 4 buoys so they made a diamond going around the island. The problem is that they were WAY out there. I estimate that the course was some where around a 1000m (based upon my time and that of others who I’ve competed with at other races).

That’s not the worst part, at the moment I put my head under the frigid water I was dolphin kicked right in the face from the guy in front of me. The impact fractured my nose, loosened my two front teeth, and busted my lip so bad that I could feel it swell before I got out of the water. I figured with water at that temperature that the swelling would have been kept to a minimum—guess not. This may be TMI, but I’ll tell you it’s hard to stay focused swimming when you can taste your blood as you breathe from your mouth, not to mention I was stunned for a few seconds as if someone had got me off guard with a right hook. This was made even more difficult because as you swam to the first buoy you were channeled through an opening of about 10m to avoid swimming into the cordoned off swim section there at the lake.

On the bright side, the water was the cleanest I’ve swam in this year. There was at least 6-8 ft underwater visibility. On the negative, I tried to swim the apex on the last corner, what I didn’t realize is that this took me very close to the shore of the island which was in about 2.5’ of water. My fingers were scraping the bottom as my neck got entangled in a bunch of weeds. I guess others found this out on their warm-up swim—I need to start doing those.

T1 (1:12)

It was nice to have grass for a change. This went quicker than the only other time I used my sleeveless QR wetsuit (Reston Triathlon). Those darn ankles are a little pesky. I have to tell you, I think Orca makes a superior suit. I already have a couple problems (pin size hole on the knee, and separation on the ankle seam) with the QR suit and I’ve only put it on twice!

BIKE (59:17; 18th of 336 [advert. 19mi, but 21mi according to 6 diff. bike computers)

The bike course starts off with a very short steep exit from the lake. This is followed by what I didn’t realize at the time, a very slight downhill for the next 9 miles. I guess I should have realized this while I was comfortable motoring along at between 26-30mph. I just figured I was having a really good day. We then went through a couple sections of neighborhood. One portion had about 100m of gravel but at least the folks at Set-Up warned us about it in advance. As we made our way around the lolly pop course and back on to the stem that would carry us back to the park, I was having a really hard time maintaining 17-18mph. This is where I realized it was a definite false flat. The worst part was that as we got closer to the park it got steeper and steeper, to the point that the last ½ mile I was in granny gear going about 10mph. For those of you who ride in the Reston area, the last ½ mile was exactly like coming up Birdfoot Rd.

T2 (:53)

The aforementioned steep climb out of T1, meant a very steep descent directly into T2. I didn’t have time to get me feet out of the shoes so for the first time I simply clicked out and ran in my bike shoes back to my rack. It went a lot smoother than I thought it would. I figured since it was grass this would account for it. If it was concrete or asphalt I would have been asses and elbows quick.

RUN (21:24; 28th of 364)

The run course was probably the most beautiful and difficult I’ve run all year. The first half is on single track trail the follows the banks of the lake. It would be perfect for an Xterra race. The trail would be very similar to the trails along Difficult Run or the Cross-County trails here in the Reston area. The second half is the difficult part, all up. It follows the finish of the bike course which led to a lot of close calls as bikes were passing on both the right and left. The funny part was at that point it’s so steep they barely are passing you if you know what I mean. I kept getting words of encouragement from cyclists who were trying for all they were worth just to get up the hill. The run concluded with that steep downhill and a grass finish right on the banks of the lake—quite picturesque.

Conclusion and the Ever-Popular Cost-Benefit Analysis (1:39:31; 19th of 364):

I finished the race 19th overall, which is one of my highest finishes for the year, although I only got 4th in my age group (This is the 4th time I’ve been 4th this year, damn!). For the season, I competed in 7 of the 9 races in the Virginia Triathlon Series. They keep the top 4 scores and I managed to get 2nd in my age group so I really can’t complain. They are supposed to send me an award. I have no idea what it could be, probably another visor or t-shirt—something for which I already have a million that I don’t know what to do with.

The race cost only $45 and for that you got a race that was:
 scenic, nearly Olympic (int’l) in distance
 lots of post-race grub including pulled BBQ pork sandwiches with all the fixins’
 a long-sleeve t-shirt, and…
 the satisfied feeling of having completed my first season in triathlon: priceless.

I look forward to seeing you all over the winter, when is that Tour de Skyline after all?!?!