|Still dark out|
I was shown to my area in transition and told we'd be running a hydration station. So we got busy setting up water cups and mixing the Cytomax. It was pleasant out when I arrived but a couple hours later, as daylight broke, we were freezing our butts off. Normally this event is held in June but due to conflicts with the America's Cup they held it early this year. Next year it's going back to June. I had four layers of tops on plus a light jacket and my teeth were still chattering (people who live in the snow, I'm sorry, I know we Californians are soft).
We answered as many participant questions as we could and I chatted up my fellow volunteers. Most people have some connection to the sport but some don't, they just do it for fun. Everyone was friendly and we managed to keep ourselves entertained, including by taking pictures of ourselves.
|Hope I didn't jinx myself if I ever do this event.|
|The Big Finish!|
|This is serious business!|
|Don't I look cold?|
Before long the pro came running in from the swim the excitement level shot up. How fun!
Once the pros passed things settled into more of a conveyer belt of swimmers coming out, some looking a bit rough. The water was cold, choppy and, based on the looks on some people's faces, generally miserable - "Water temperatures were about 51 degrees, air temperatures hovered in the mid-50s, and 11 mph winds made the air feel closer to the mid-40s." - SF Chronicle.
And unfortunately, someone died. Again, from the Chronicle:
A 46-year-old man died of cardiac arrest Sunday just after plunging into frigid bay waters in the annual Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, held three months earlier than usual and under much colder conditions.So sad. I heard his wife was brought over while they were working on him. Ugh.
The Austin, Texas, man, whose name was not released, died less than a minute after he jumped into the bay, which was about 10 degrees cooler than last year's water temperature when the race was held in June, said race director Bill Burke.
"Was it colder than normal? Yes. But in my opinion, the water temperature was not a factor at all in this tragedy," he said. "This gentleman obviously had a heart condition he was unaware of." It was the first death in the triathlon's 33-year history, Burke said.
In all, rescuers pulled about 150 competitors from the swimming portion of the race, more than three times the normal number, he said.
Before long, the pros were back from their bikes and heading out on the run. Things got tricky for a while because we still had swimmers coming in and the swim-in and run-out are side by side.
I was kind of shocked by how fast the pros run! They aren't messing around out there. You can see (in the bottom picture) people coming in from the swim on the left and behind the runner. Some people are quite disoriented as they enter transition (well, in general really) and once or twice we had to physically turn people to get them headed in the right direction.
And then, about 2 hours after the start the first place finisher comes running down the chute.
Javier Gomez Noya of Spain finished first with a time of 2:04:27. Incredible, right? A 1.5 mile swim, 18 mile bike ride and an 8 mile run that includes running in sand and beach stairs - all in just a bit over 2 hours. These pictures are with my cell camera, not super zoomed in, that's how close I was!
About 14 minutes later the first female comes down the chute. I captured this cool series of images of her running in, hearing the announcer say she had a strong lead, looking back to confirm and then joy - pure joy in knowing she'd done it, she won!
|Heather Jackson, 2:18:08.|
I love it! I know that feeling. The feeling of success and accomplishment. And I saw that face on plenty of regular Joes out there too, pushing themselves and living the dream. I also saw the face of suffering, another feeling I know well, as some people dragged their spent bodies toward the finish.
Not too far behind Heather was Sarah Groff, who'd been first out of the water if I recall. I took some fun pictures of Sarah but I have to share the one that ended up in the SF Chronicle that has me in it!
|Sarah Groff, 2:18:37. (and yours truly)|
After the bulk of my directing work was done I spent some time picking up cups and empty gu packets. My official shift was long over but I was happy to help. And then I got busy cheering on finishers until my voice almost went out. I especially loved cheering on the women. Seeing women of various ages, physical shape and overall style out there doing it - it really gets me fired up. I'd cheer for them and some would break out in huge smiles and I just wanted to do nothing more than stand out there all day. Fun stuff. Fun, fun, fun.
Maybe even more fun than ever doing the event. Based on what I saw today I'm in no hurry to throw my hat in the lottery for this one. But maybe when it's in June it would be a bit more inviting. I plan to volunteer again next year (in the same spot!) and then we'll see what I think.
Well, there you have it, my Volunteer Race Report. If you haven't volunteered at an event, I highly recommend it (as if you can't tell). I can't say I'dve had as much fun if I were doing post-race cleanup or manning the results station but who knows - I like to take fun with me wherever I go so maybe a bit less exhilarating but fun nonetheless.
I had a half-hearted plan to run 6 miles after the event but I stayed so late there that it didn't happen, which is fine because my cough is still lingering and I got up at 3am! I drove the BMW into the city and it was too cold to put the top down in SF but once I was in Marin the sun was shining and the top came down. I tried to nap when I got home but as tired as I was, I couldn't do it. So now I'm off for some heavy-duty sleeping. Is it really Monday tomorrow?