This recap was submitted by Run Oregon reader Adam Williams. Feel free to Submit a Guest Post in the “Contact Us” tab if you want to get involved.
After missing out on my first triathlon last year due to a raccoon-versus-bicycle-accident related injury, the 2014 Leadman Triathlon on September 20th capped off my comeback and was easily the highlight of my athletic “career” thus far. Over 200 people showed up for an “as perfect as could be hoped for fall day” in Central Oregon to test their mettle against other athletes in an attempt to earn a coveted Leadman Tri buckle in one of three races – 85km, 125km or 250km. I, however, was only interested in competing against one of these folks, my little brother who also missed last year’s Portland Triathlon due to a bicycle-accident injury.
As my first official, organized, triathlon event I was a little nervous about the structure of things. I committed and registered for the event months ago, and spent countless hours preparing for the swimming, biking and running but there were still unanswered questions (for this newbie) like, how to do the body-marking thing, where do I drop off my transition items, and where do I get them after the race? Simple stuff, but still unneeded stress I was putting on myself.
Thankfully, from the moment I checked in on Friday afternoon, the army of race staff and volunteers was more than ready to help me and the other racers from the moment we picked up our packets. Following the race meeting with organizers and officials, where they described all of the different places and times for equipment drop-off and pickup, to the various rules about passing and being passed while on the bike, and the announcement that all finishers would receive a small belt buckle this year, I left feeling more at ease and able to prepare mentally for what was coming up the next day. All parts of the pre-race on Friday were smooth and easy. After dropping off my bike off the night before at Cultus Lake, about an hour drive from transition two and the finish line, I was provided an opportunity to preview the bike course. This gave me an evern better opportunity to know what I was going to be up against the next day and calm my neves a bit more.
On the morning of the event, my brother and I boarded a shuttle and tried hard to focus and relax during the trip to the starting area. After arriving I did some quick equipment checking. I wanted to quadruple-check that my tires were properly inflated, and that my transition bag was packed and ready the way I wanted it before I headed to the water to see the start of the Epic 250 event. The weather was clear and crisp, about 43 degrees outside and the water was a refreshing 63 degrees. It wasn’t exactly a hot tub, but warm enough that there were some who competed without a wetsuit.
After the longer distance racers had started, I headed back to the changing tent to suit up for the beginning of my Epic 125 race. Before I knew it, I was wading along the sandy bottom, then swimming out into the water to the starting line. As the announcer counted down to the start my brother and I exchanged a high-five and both lunged forward to start the 2500m swimming portion. I got kicked a few times at the beginning of the race, but once the pack spread out a little bit I was able to focus on staying near the marker buoys on the 2500m out and back course. Coming around the last corner and running up the boat ramp toward the transition area, I barely noticed the cold air as I unsuited and changed into my riding gear. When I got to my bike, I immediately noticed that my brother’s bicycle was already gone. My body was wet, the air cold, and even with 20+ mph speeds on the bike the excitement and adrenaline I was experiencing negated any effects of this combination. I was soon finding my rhythm and spinning my way towards Mt. Bachelor.
The cycling portion of the ride was definitely the highlight for me. I’m a cyclist at heart and the views from Cultus Lake past various other lakes were beautiful and with Mt. Bachelor on the horizon it made for a breathtaking 66 miles. My favorite moment had to be at mile 10 when I passed my brother though. I spent the next 56 miles trying put distance between us. To help me, all along the route, every 10 miles or so, were fully stocked aid stations with eager volunteers handing out bottles of easy to grab Gatorade, water, gels, and other food items. The course was well-marked with volunteers at every corner guiding racers in the right direction. By the time I summitted the mountain pass at Mt. Bachelor the day was beautiful, sunny, and had warmed up to the mid 60s, which was great because the last 20 miles or so into Bend were either fast downhill or quick sections along level roads.
When I got to the second transition area, I slipped into my running shoes as quickly as I could and rushed out onto the \
course around Bend’s Northwest Crossing area. By this time weather had warmed to the low 70s and the sun was definitely a factor (I’ve still gotpart of my body numbers sun-tattooed onto my shoulder 4 weeks later). Before I was even a half-mile into the run, I saw my brother spinning toward transition two. Thankfully there were aid stations every mile on the course handing out Gatorade, water, coke, and other energy related goodies to keep all the racers cool, hydrated, and refueled. The course covered 12K of rolling hills, which seemed endless and far more difficult than they should have been. As I came around the last corner I was very happy to see the finish line and I couldn’t help but look over my shoulder to see if my brother was coming up behind me. He was nowhere to be seen and victory was mine! A few minutes later he crossed the line and we celebrated our comeback together. Take that raccoons everywhere!
The post race area was well stocked with all sorts of goodies including all manner of hydration, snacks, and a delicious mexican food buffet. From beginning to end, the race was organized excellently; I can’t think of a detail that was lacking. I would suggest it highly to anyone looking for a longer distance triathlon event. If you want a slightly longer swim and bike, and a shorter run than a half- or full Ironman distance event then one of the Leadman Triathlon races is definitely for you.