I was planning on doing Eagleman next year as my first half iron triathlon. I didn’t plan on doing a half-ironman this year and I certainly did not plan on doing the Savageman. However back in the spring MMTC had a raffle for spots in some ‘Tri-to-Win’ races. So I threw my name in and, lucky me, I won the Savageman entry.
Since I didn’t have to pay for the entry I decided to take up the cause and raise some money for the Melanoma foundation. I typically don’t tell a whole lot of people about the races I enter so this gave me a chance to tell my friends all about this crazy ass race I was doing out in the Allegheny mountains… and beg them for money too. Since I had planned on doing Eagleman as my first half I didn’t put any pressure on myself for this race. I just wanted to enjoy the experience and finish.
Let me just say that this was the coolest race that I’ve ever been to. The people, the atmosphere, just the vibe that was being given off was so amazing, it made for a great time. I had gone out to preview the course (scare myself shit less) a couple times before the race, so I had an idea of how incredible a venue it was out there. This just raised my expectations and got me even more psyched up for the race.
We spent the race weekend at this sweet vacation house a mile from the start. Had a hot tub and everything. Plus the entire place was made of wood!
The Pit Stop
The Pit Stop
Went to the pre-race dinner at the Action Sport Center at WISP outside overlooking the man made whitewater park. Met up with fellow MMTCer CH and his wife. The food was great, catered by WISP and a winery. But it was held outside and it was freezing at the top of the mountain once the sun went down, so we left early and missed the bonfire/marshmallow roasting.
Swim: 28:31 (7/183)
T1: 5:08 (70/183)
Bike: 4:09:01 (13.4 mph 128/183)
T2: 1:59 (59/183)
Run/Walk: 3:04:17 (14:03 miles 162/183)
Total: 7:48:55 (143/183)
The start of the race was delayed 20 minutes due to the heavy fog. The clydesdales were in the 4th and last wave of the half, some 21 minutes after the first wave went off. Well, just before they had our wave enter the water the first couple swimmers come running up the boat ramp… in under 19 minutes! Turns out they took a wrong turn in the fog, given some bad directions by a kayaker and ended up swimming the international course. 12 minute penalties for all of them. (BTW - Bjorn after exiting the water and realizing they f’d up tracked down the RD and had a long conversation with him before taking off towards transition. He then went on to break the bike, Savage Mountain climb and overall course records despite the penalty. Nuts!)
The swim was pretty uneventful. The fog was lifting by the time our wave started so sighting wasn’t a problem. I didn’t even run into anyone the entire time - that’s a first. The water was perfectly clear, I starred at the bottom the whole way and felt like I was in a giant pool at times. Except for that police boat that did not grasp the concept that it’s easier for us to swim without wake and proceeded to fly up and down the course the entire time. Maybe this was their plan to up the ’savageness’ of the swim. Despite the wake I got second in my wave behind an aquavelo guy that was pretty fast. Turns out that I had the fastest swim for those people doing the half (and that did the entire swim course and finished the race). But due to some timing error the wave 4 swim splits were initially 2 minutes slow, so they gave the $100 prime and 2009 entry to someone else at the awards ceremony. :( I’m still waiting to hear from them about that… oh well.
T1 was of course uphill and a pretty long ways to go. I took some extra time spent drying off.
The bike leg of this course is truly something else and needs to be ridden to fully appreciate. It’s funny, the RD had categorized the climbs for the course. Which broke down as follows:
Toothpick Rd Hill - Cat 4
Westernport Climb - HS (beyond savageness)
Big Savage Mountain Summit - HS (beyond savageness)
Savage River Hill - Cat 3
McAndrews Road Hill - Cat 2
Otto Lane Hill - Cat 2
“Killer” Miller Road Hill - HS (beyond savageness)
Maynardier Ridge Hill - Cat 1
Not sure what standard was used for determining the categories or if it’s comparable to road race categorized climbs, but it was still pretty bad ass riding up to a hill and having a sign there saying something like “Cat 2 climb 12% grade over next mile”. Some other signs out there on the course were hilarious. I saw a couple offering triple chain rings and 32 tooth cassettes, along with one advertising ‘free EPO at the top of the hill’. About half way up the Miller Rd climb there was a sign saying ‘check out that view’. I’m sure there were many other good ones that I missed from being in oxygen dept and staring at my front wheel while struggling just to keep forward momentum. Unfortunately on the Westernport Wall I wasn’t able to keep the momentum up and I had to un-clip to keep from falling down. I made it about 3/4 the way up the last block. Soo close, but no brick for me. I was running a 39×25 and it felt like I spent majority of the day in that combo. Being a rather heavy guy this was definitely not enough, I felt like I was doing leg presses the whole time. If I do this race again I will be going with the sissiest setup I can get my hands on. Compact cranks, 32 tooth cog… bring it on. But the benefit to going so slow on this ride was that I had an opportunity to talk to a lot of people. I finally met MMTCer Rusty out on the bike course along with a couple Team Zers and bunch of other very friendly people. I got a nice fist pound from another rider as we were rolling into T2 to celebrate that hell of a ride was over.
The few times that I biked this course I never followed it up with the run, I was always too torn up. So I’m not sure why I thought it would be any different on race day, cause it wasn’t. The run was not pretty at all. For the first half mile out of transition I was feeling fine. Tired, but fine. Then the leg cramps came with a vengeance and I was reduced to walking. For the rest of the run I took to walking all the ups and running the downs/flats, which on this course means I was walking about half the time. Long story short, I need to work on my run a lot more. I did finally finish, albeit slow and in a lot of pain. I had an incredible time at this race and would do it again in a heartbeat… as long as I loose 30 lbs and learn how to run. So I’ve some work to do. At least getting a PR at Eagleman shouldn’t pose much trouble.
I think everyone at this race was a Dogfish Head fan (except for the high school girls at the campground water stop who kept calling me Sharkman every time I passed). I’ve never had so many people tell me that looking at me made them want to have a beer. I even had some people come up to me after the race tell me that is all they could think about after passing me. And there were a whole lot of people passing me on the run.
This race is a must! MMTC got 4th in the Club challenge. I hope we have a huge showing out there next year!