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Race Result

Racer: Dan Frost
Race: Sunset Sprint Triathlon
Date: Saturday, July 23, 2005
Location: Bridgeton, NJ
Race Type: Triathlon - Sprint
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Time: 1:45:04
Overall Place: 232 / 365
Age Group Place: 27 / 36
Comment: Garden State of Emergency

Race Report:

Bridgeton NJ – July 23, 2005
Sunny, 77F, light winds

Costs: Entry Fee $60, transportation costs for 2.5hr drive each way
Benefits: A nice non-white race t-shirt, tall water bottle, pasta lunch post-race
Charity Tie-In: The race is a fundraiser for the Bridgeton Exchange Club

Swim: 86F pond of some murkiness, course is out-back circling CCW around buoys. Beach start.
Bike: 16 miles on gently rolling roads, generally good surfaced, but with some isolated patches of sand
Run: A 5k mix of everything…trails, asphalt, gravel, grass, concrete…mostly shaded

I have yet to do the Reston Triathlon, but the 16th annual Sunset Sprint Triathlon was very much what I’d envision Reston, and some other home-grown triathlons, to be like. It’s a civic event put on by the Bridgeton Exchange Club, and by most accounts, they have learned from 16 years of experience in hosting this race. Organizationally, the race was well conducted and staffed. They do throw out a little cash to the top finishers. Yet, it still very much has a small-race feel in a place where it can’t grow any more due to topography.

This race does have logistical challenges. The primary one is that registration, parking, and post-race food are nearly a mile from the race site where the lake, transition areas and finish are. There is no reliable shuttle service between the locations, and closed roads make it impossible to drive up to the race site to drop off racers, spectators, or gear.

The second challenge, though not so major, deals with the ground and what’s on it. There is sand everywhere…not just on the sandy beach at the pond, but sand is prevalent to some degree on the roads. The pavement of the transition area is very coarse asphalt, which is painful on bare feet, and when your feet are wet and sandy from the beach coming into T1, you’ll pick up more sand on the feet that are caught in the crannies of the coarse asphalt.

Thus, this would be a tough race for me to recommend for anyone in and around Reston, because I imagine that the Reston experience is comparable. So unless you are truly yearning for a non-white race t-shirt, a nice post-race meal, or simply the opportunity to say that you’ve attempted a triathlon in New Jersey, I’m not sure the race is worth an overnight or a 2.5 hour drive through the morning darkness.

I likely would have never given this race any serious thought except for one other item…that it was included in this year’s USA Triathlon Mid-Atlantic Triathlon Grand Prix series. This is a new series of 11 races throughout the five Mid-Atlantic states that offers a modest award to top finishers who complete at least three of the 11 races. (Columbia and Eagleman are two of the races in the series) Competitors can earn points for as many as five finishes in series races. Going into this, the seventh race of the series, I determined that (1) I was leading the series in points having completed three of the six races, and (2) I just might win the series simply by finishing five races. So, while the Sunset Sprint Triathlon was an opportunity to improve my t-shirt wardrobe and add New Jersey to the states where I’ve raced, the only “critical” goal for the day was to cross the finish line with a score…

…and that objective proved somewhat elusive on this day…

The swim was no problem, starting in the second wave of five. My goal was to hammer strong and get separation from those who rely too much on their wetsuits. (At 86F, wetsuits were not permitted for anyone)

After a good T1, I crossed the timing mat and started to ride…except I had an unpleasant, funny feeling coming from the wheels. A flat??? Now??? Indeed, the rear disc wheel had a deflated tire on it.

Some things immediately came to my memory. One of them was that I had found the same tire deflated the evening prior when I went to pump it up. It turned out then that the valve core was loose from the valve stem…and seemed to be an easy fix. I had the tire pumped up with air, and it held up fine, all the way through the morning with a warm-up ride and the shuttle ride from the parking lot to the transition area. And since it was now suddenly deflated again, I immediately presumed that the valve core had leaked.

My moment of distress was, of course, in sight of all who had come to watch. Thankfully, that included the tech folks, who ran over to help me. It turns out, however, that they couldn’t help. Their air pump couldn’t fit in the small hole in the disc wheel without a “crack pipe” adapter that they didn’t have.

So, I was pretty much dead in the water, and initially figured that the best thing to do was to just stay put, stay on the side of the road, wait for the transition area to clear out, and then pack up and go home. I’ve got a DNF on my career resume, so having another wasn’t going to break new ground. Still, it was definitely a bummer, hitting the road at 3am to do a sprint race primarily for series points, only to come away with zero points for the trip. I was starting to think about whether it would be worth it to sign up for another race to stay competitive for the series championship. Here I am, in Jersey of all places, a mile away from my car, my spares, my bike pump, my crack pipe, my regular road wheels, my…road wheels?!?! Hmmm…

I had let a bunch of time, and racers, go by before giving serious thought of going to my car and retrieving a spare wheel. I was mindful of USAT rules, but realizing that there was no enforcement going on here. So, I laid my bike down, got my car keys and cleat covers, then started heading south…back to the car, running in my bike shoes. After a few minutes, I had a replacement wheel in hand and started heading back. Had to refuse one offer for a car ride back to T1. After a few more minutes, I was back at the bike. New wheel on, drop off the disc back near my rack, back to the bike an on. After all of this, I believe that I started back onto the bike course with the last person to leave T1.

So now, it was just a matter of avoiding another flat, and still getting a good workout. The dangerous part, though, is that now I’m a fast flyer barreling through the not-so-young and not-so-light crowd…still having to make a large number of audible “passing” calls. Still the time passed pleasantly.

T2 was a controlled stop, now that finishing the race and earning some sort of a score was a given. The run seemed to go really well…much smoother and faster, in my mind, than what the timing system said I did. (Maybe a long course?) But, I stopped thinking about my time long ago. I wasn’t disappointed in going over 1:45 on a course where I might have done a 1:15.

My flat tire on race day actually turned out to be a puncture, instead of a bad valve core or stem. Simply pumping up the tire with air would not have worked to fix it there, and I would have needed a replacement tire or wheel anyway.

In a race worth as much as 90 series points, I earned 62.5…but that’s much better than earning zero.

I can now say that I’ve raced…and finished, in Jersey.

Hoping that my last race in the series goes a little better…
- Frosty