The inaugural New York City Triathlon saw a large contingent of queer triathletes joining the competition. I was one of them, and I was joined by Les Jones and Devon Carranza, who had just finished the Ironman in Lake Placid two weeks earlier, plus our indefatigable David Pitches, Bob Sundeen and Mark Schaeffer. There were also some new faces, such as Jose Navarro. Bob Nelson and Ronn Seely showed up to offer moral support.
The race was Olympic distance, with a 1.5K swim in the Hudson from 97th St. down to the Boat Basin at 79th St. The 40K bike leg was held on a loop of the Henry Hudson Parkway and Mosholu Parkway, the distance completely closed to traffic. The 10K run started at Riverside Park and ended after a loop of Central Park.
The race was being held in conjunction with the National Elite Championship. It was very exciting to share the transition area with athletes of the caliber of Hunter Kemper and Karen Smyers, the pro race winners.
As this was a new race, there was some concern that not all the details have been ironed out in advance, and that some unexpected problem could arise. Indeed, there were some scary moments during the swim. The current in the Hudson was much stronger than anticipated and swimmers in the first three waves had serious problems trying to reach the ladders at the end of the swim. Apparently swimmers started piling up at the edge of the barge positioned at the end of the swim and some of them were pushed UNDER the barge by the current. Thankfully nobody was seriously hurt.
As a result, the race was put on hold after the third wave. The swim course was reconfigured and swimmers were literally pushed by kayaks towards the exit ramps from the water. This worked very well and there were no further problems. And thanks to the strong current, swim times were amazingly fast.
The bike leg was probably the best part of the race. To ride a Henry Hudson Parkway closed to traffic is a great experience. The scenery is as good as it gets with sweeping views of Manhattan, the George Washington Bridge and the Hudson River. The course did not have any major hills, but had a number of rolling hills, especially on the first half and in the Bronx.
The weather began to deteriorate during the bike and by the time I got back to Manhattan it started raining.
I was in the last wave and I was supposed to leave 45 minutes before the pros. Because of the delays at the beginning however, the organizers decided to "compress" the schedule a little and the pros left only about 30 minutes after I did. The bottom line was that as I was getting back onthe Henry Hudson from the Mosholu, I saw a big pack of pro riders coming from the opposite direction. I did not count on being caught by the pros during the bike leg, but this is what happened and at the worst possible time. As I wasgetting off the parkway to get back to the transition area at West 79th St., the pros passed me on the narrow and slippery paths on Riverside Park. It was not pleasant! Apart from a small blow to my ego, it was quite dangerous to have a pack of riders chasing you in such a small area. But I managed to escape without harm.
The run took the participants into Central Park. This where it started raining hard. As I was leaving the transition area I heard someone shouting my name: I turned around to see Dave Pitches waving at me. He was in the first wave and he probably finished the bike leg even before I got to the water!
I was passed by almost all the male elite athletes during the run, but managed to overtake some age-groupers. After all the run is mybest event in a triathlon, although this time I didn't do as well because I was not feeling very well. Once I got home I found out I had been racing with a fever of 102 degrees!
The finish line was at the Bandshell. There I reconnected with the rest of the team. Everybody was pretty happy with their race and with the organization. We surely are glad to have this race in NYC on the calendar now. I, for one, will try to make a regular annual appearance.Results: