By Bill Powers (@billmaxpowers)
Last Sunday I completed my second short distance triathlon at Tri Dunkirk, at the scenic Wright Park, in Dunkirk, NY. My first summer participating in triathlons has not gone as planned. My second scheduled race turned into a Duathlon and I had to withdraw from my third for personal reasons. So needless to say I was pumped and ready for this race.
I got on the road very early in the morning and made my way to Dunkirk. On the way there I decided that I had time to drive down Route 5, so that I could do a quick recon of the bike course. Arriving on site at 5:50am the atmosphere was great. I quickly picked up my race packet and went back to my car to get my gear ready. Where I ended up parking was really dark, so I was glad that I took someone’s advice and brought a headlamp. Once I got my gear ready, it was off to transition to setup. The transition area was well lit and clearly marked; I found a nice spot and got to work.
After a few minutes getting everything ready and trying to remember that I was in the middle of the row, I left the transition area and headed for the most dreaded place at any sporting event, the Port-A-Potties. Like at many events, there are never enough of these, but it is just a fact I have come to deal with. While waiting in the ever-growing line, they began to hold the pre race briefing. Since the Port-A-Potties where right next to the transition area, I didn’t miss a thing. The pre race briefing mostly consisted of instructions for the race but it also included a moment of silence for Gary Grant who crashed at the race last year and tragically lost his life 3 weeks later. It was an early morning reminder not to forget about racing safely.
As the sun started to rise, I made way down to the beach for the open water swim start. After a brief group photo, we started to line up. The course was laid out in a triangle and since I was doing the short distance, I would only be swimming one 750m clockwise loop. Score-This decided that instead of doing a mass start swim, they would conduct a time trial start for this event. I was a little disappointed when I heard they were not having the mass swim start, but in the end the time trial worked out pretty well. The way it was conducted was to let 2 swimmers go every 20 seconds; this enabled me to enter the water how I wanted to and swim the course how I wanted to. There was never a point were I felt bunched in with other swimmers. Really the only time I ever got close to other swimmers was at the buoys. An interested thing about Dunkirk was how shallow it was, the deepest part of the whole race was maybe 4 feet. If you got into trouble or panicked during the swim you probably could just stand up. There were a few kayaks and a boat out there to provide some support just in case. I thought my swim was great and I sighted the buoys fairly well. I exited the water, ran across the beach, up the stairs, crossed the road, up the sandy grass embankment and into transition in 17:17.
On to the Bike
T1 was pretty uneventful, with the exception of sandy feet and someone moving my shirt from my handlebars to my seat post. No worries, exited T1 in 1:50.
On to the bike course, which was my favorite part of this event. The course was held primarily on Route 5, which runs right along the shoreline of lake Eire. The short course was setup as an out and back, with a convenient rest area as the turn around point. The course was not closed to traffic, but the volunteers and police did a great job with the traffic control. Being that the course was not closed, I rode mostly on the shoulder of the road, with the exemptions of when I was passing. Route 5 is wide 2-lane road with a good shoulder so I felt pretty safe the entire time. As to the elevation of the course, I would describe it as a series of good rollers, not much flat. There was a few times I left the saddle to climb some short hills. The course also provided a few spots where I was able to top 30 MPH. According to my Garmin, the course ran .5-mile longer, but I finished in 38:58 officially (http://www.strava.com/activities/77447124).
I rode hard all the way to the dismount line, dismounted before the line and I was off to T2 and on to the run in 1:13.
On to the Run
Exiting T2, I noticed that you had to be careful, as you needed to go down the sandy grass embankment to the road below. If you were not careful it could easily end your run very early. The run course, unlike the bike, was super flat, but like the bike course, it was an out and back. The run started along the lake then out the Dunkirk pier, thru a tiny tree covered park, back out the pier and finally back along the lake into the finish chute. Out and back runs are my favorite because they provide a great opportunity to cheer on the rest of the participants, it gives them a boost and helps to take your mind off your screaming legs. I finished the run in the 24:03, but also, like the bike course, the run was a bit long clocking in at 3.3 miles (http://www.strava.com/activities/77447121).
My total time was 1:23:21 and I came in six in my age group, 27th male and 30th overall.
Overall it was a great race. Score-This and the volunteers did a wonderful job putting on a great and extremely professional event. I had a great time, the weather was perfect and was impressed once again with the triathlon community of Western New York. Although I did not get a chance to hang around too much before and after the race, I saw that the BTC had a great presence. If my schedule permits and more importantly if my wife lets me, I will be back next year to take on the Intermediate distance.