USA TRIATHLON AGE GROUP NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
August 13, 2005 - Smithville MO [Near Kansas City]
Rain with thunderstorms in vicinity - 73F - Winds 6-8mph from every direction of the compass
The race was cancelled by the competition "jury" due to the bad weather after multiple delays.
It is the same course used for the U.S. Half Ironman Championships held in September.
Run - It's nothing but rolling hills like Columbia. Except for one unpaved access path, it's on a hard surface. Some shade.
Bike - Very much like Columbia...except for one long bridge, it's nothing but rollers, though there is only one climb of steep significance. Technical in many places with sharp turns, gravel, potholes. No shade.
Swim - Warm, freshwater lake. Counter-clockwise loop. Like Columbia. 82F
Costs: Entry Fee $95(?). Airfare $210, Hotel (KCI Airport Marriott) $85/night including taxes, Shared rental van $30.
Benefits: Goodie bag with two race shirts, a very nice Swiss army knife, and a pen. Gatorade towel and free beer after the "fun run".
U.S. Airways has non-stop DCA-KCI service.
I stayed at the KCI Airport Marriott, which serves as the HQ hotel for the U.S. Half Ironman Championships. Even though it is on the airport grounds, it is on a nice site adjoining a large lake. (It's quiet enough so that there's no loud airplane noise that will keep you awake at night.) The Marriott was about 10-15 miles from the race site and a similar distance to Downtown.
What was the logistical hassle was that the HQ hotel for the USAT AG Champs WAS downtown at the Hyatt. To top it off, the I-29/35 bridge was shut down for reconstruction, lengthening the time and distance between downtown and the airport and the race site. A rental vehicle is a must if you come to race in Kansas City.
Packet pickup, expo, and pre-post race festivities were downtown. Bikes had to be racked the night before at the race site. You could rack your bike BEFORE going to the expo, since they had your bike number at the race site and not in your race packet.
Kansas City is actually not a boring place to be. If you love steak, you'll love K.C.
One cool thing about this race was that it was broadcast on the radio. The race announcers were broadcasting on a low power (0.9 watt) transmitter on 88.7 FM. This proved to be very valuable when competitors went back to their vehicles to wait out the rain.
The race was slated to start at 7:00 AM. My wave was to start at 7:40 AM. Overnight, there was some wind and a small amount of rain (0.10 inch).
At 6:30 AM, there was a light rain and visible lightning in the distance. A 30-minute delay was announced, meaning that the race would start at 7:30 AM.
At 7:15 AM, an additional 15-minute delay was announced, pushing the start back to 7:45 AM. Rain was off and on, but when it was on, it was torrential.
At 7:35 AM, the "jury" announced that the swim had been cancelled and that the new event would be a bike-run with a time-trial start.
At 7:40 AM, race announcers asked for the competitors to return to the transition area to get ready to race, where the starting instructions for the new event would be given and the event would get underway. Those who didn't want to do the event anymore were encouraged to leave before bikers hit the roads. Some vehicles were having trouble leaving the grassy parking because of mud.
Soon after returning to the transition area, the rain intensified and volunteers directed everyone to return to shelter. The new event would start at 9:00 AM, and competitors were told to listen to their radios for instructions at 8:30 AM. Just over an inch of rain fell between in the hour between 7 AM and 8 AM.
At 8:35 AM, the president of the USAT Board announced that the event was cancelled, and that a 10k "fun run" would occur.
Rain continued to fall, with another 0.6 inches between 8 AM and 10 AM.
Many folks remained for the fun run and food, and myself and seven others jumped on bikes after the run to ride the bike course. By now, there was off and on rain, sometimes heavy rain. By the time I returned from riding, the carnage in the mud field continued. Cars were stuck in the mud in various places.
By 11:30 AM, the rain had stopped and I enjoyed a nice swim in the lake to complete my recreational "reverse" triathlon. I returned to the hotel to find a dry parking lot there.
I traveled alone to this race, but hooked up with "Dizzy" Schuette and his friends on the All-Marine Corps Triathlon team. We did everything together as a group...driving to expo, eating meals, huddling in the van to wait out the storm, then having a great 10k, bike, and swim. It was a great weekend hooking up with them...and I sign off my report with my parting words to them:
Thank you, very much, for allowing a lonely squid to hang out with a bunch of true heroes for a weekend that didn’t turn out so bad after all.
I arrived in Kansas City with the attitude of it just being a vacation and a chance to unwind, with little expectations for a highly competitive performance. I had been consistently getting slower in workouts during the previous week. Multiple friends of mine who were (in my mind) likely to come to Nationals didn’t, including one who was challenging me to a rematch…and then backed out. The Vineman Aquabike, which sounded like a much better thing for me (someone getting ready for Kona) to do for training, was the same day...but I was already committed to this race before I learned of that event. I had planned to take the entire week off from work before headed to KC, but my most of my leave got cancelled when my BRAC team got short-staffed, and was just lucky enough to get the time off that I did.
Hanging with y’all certainly made things better, and indeed I’m pretty relaxed now, especially after the fifth cocktail from the bar. Even with the miserable weather, I’m glad to have been in Kansas City and couldn’t imagine having a better weekend anywhere else.
After Kona, I’m headed for two years of overseas duty in Greece. While I’m content with putting my triathlon “career” on hold, I’m already missing the excitement and camaraderie that the sport has given me over the past few years and have already been scheming a plan to try to make it to Pt. Mugu next year for Armed Forces.
Best wishes to all of you wherever you go, whatever you do, and whenever you meet to compete again. Y’all are a great group that the other military teams ought to model.