The Interval, 8/30/17

Matt Hanlon racing in the Aquathlon World Championships. Photo by Chris Hanlon.

Before we get to the Aquathlon and Cap’n Karl’s results, I feel compelled to write a couple of sentences about Harvey.  I’ve been drawn to the pictures and stories of people helping people.  The police, fire department, National Guard, Coast Guard, and other trained responders working for days without rest.  The private citizens with their boats rescuing thousands.  Companies like HEB providing food, supplies, and logistic support to the whole region.  The scale of the tragedy and suffering is immense, but the display of humanity is heartening.  Give generously.

First, a report on fourth and final Cap’n Karl’s event of the summer.  The Tejas Trails team was active on social media last Friday and Saturday providing weather and course updates from Reveille Peak Ranch, near Lake Buchanon. They decided to hold the event and 178 people started one of the three races on Saturday evening. From all accounts, it was a better place to be than Austin that night.  Brad Quinn, the race director, sent me this quote from Brian Powell:  “Brad – being a couple of days out from this now, I can honestly say that was the most challenging course I have ever run. In the dark…in the tail end of a hurricane. I had such a great time. I keep trying to tell people about it and they just roll their eyes cause they think I am crazy.”

The 10K winner was J.J. Tiscareno, with Beau Clements and Dale Becker also placing.  Elisabeth Pfaff won the women’s race, just 7 seconds ahead of Amy Tiscareno.  Molly Ryan was just 30 seconds behind for third.

For the four race Cap’n Karl’s 10K series, Esther Beachy was the women’s winner, with P.J. Izaguirre top of the men’s list.

The women’s 30K winner was Brittany Hamilton, in 3:13.  Marcela Ortiz was about 20 minutes behind for second, with Rachel Hartzler in third.  The men’s race was won by Carlos Gillett in 2:35.  Shawn Griffin beat James Ayres for second, by a minute.

The 30K series winners were Shawn Griffin and Brittany Hamilton.

The 60K racers had to run the Reveille Peak course three times during the night, each time climbing to the top of the famous granite dome, for a total vertical gain of 3800 feet.  A tough challenge.  Julie Koepke won the women’s race in 7:30, about 17 minutes in front of Jessica Head, with Megan Reed another 5 minutes back in third.  After 7 hours and 35 minutes of running, Pieter Steenkamp beat Joe Schmal by just 2 seconds.  Luke Bateman was 25 minutes back in third.

Steenkamp was also the 60K men’s series winner.  The women’s series was won by Lauren Welton.

Cap’n Karl’s Reveille Peak results are here.

The series results are here.

Congratulations to all the runners for all four races.  Cap’n Karl’s is a Hill Country summer tradition for tough trail runners.  Thanks again to Tejas Trails and all the volunteers.

My friend Matt Hanlon competed at the ITU Multisport World Championship Festival this past weekend in Penticton, British Columbia.  ITU (International Triathlon Union) is the governing body for multisport endurance events like triathlon (swim bike run), duathlon (run bike run), and aquathlon (swim run). Matt was part of the USA team for the aquathlon and he answered a few questions by email:

Armadillo Running:  Team USA!  When did getting on this team become a goal?  Tell us about being on the US team in Penticton.

Matt Hanlon:  I know! Being a part of Team USA was an amazing experience. I actually made this a goal for myself at the beginning of this year when I received an email about the US Aquathlon National Championships being held in Austin later this October. The Nationals are open for anyone to register and the top performers in each age group would be eligible for a spot on the 2018 national team and to compete at Worlds. Before that, it hadn’t even occurred to me that there was such a thing, much less that I could possibly do that. I thought it sounded awesome and made it my goal to make the 2018 team. Then, to my great surprise, I received an email about a month later, in April, letting me know that my 2016 Aquathlon national ranking had earned a spot on Team USA for 2017! I was floored.

Being on Team USA was a lot of fun. I arrived in Penticton late Wednesday, sadly missing the Aquathlon team photo earlier that evening. Thursday was an organized course preview in the morning and a team meeting in the evening to discuss race logistics and rules. (The ITU rules are a lot more strict than those at the Pure Austin Splash-N-Dash!)

Another really cool thing about this event was that this year was the first ITU Multisport World Championships Festival. Previously, the world championship events for each the Duathlon, Triathlon, and Aquathlon were held separately. Starting with this year, ITU is holding the WC events in the same location over multiple days of competition, which allows athletes who want to compete in multiple events to do so much more easily. It also makes for a much larger event with more spectacle! Next year the World Championships are in Odense, Denmark.

I have to be honest, the only real downside I can think of is that, though you are on Team USA, you still have to pay your own way for travel and race registration, as well as race suit and team gear. But what a fine race suit it is!

AR:  How did your race go?

Matt Hanlon:  Overall, my race went well. I was aiming for a 15-minute swim and a sub-20 run. I also hoped to finish top-10 in my age group, though I really had no idea what the competition would be like. I hit close enough to my goal time for the swim leg (15:10) and even managed to tie for 10th in my age group. My run was slower than I would have liked (21:12), but I kind of expected that going in to the race, as I have been suffering a nagging pain in my leg that has put a damper on my running over the past couple of months.

This was the first time I have competed in an event of this scale. Also, I hadn’t even thought about it until it was discussed at the team meeting, but I also had never competed in an event with so many rules, and an actual penalty box! If you comitted a penalty they would pull you off the course either at transition or at the 5K mid-point where you would serve penalty time, assuming the infraction was not a DQ. I managed to NOT get any penalties.

The course was a 1km swim, point-to-point, followed by two 2.5km laps on the run course. The day before the race we had access to the course for swim and run, and we could look at transition, though we were not given access. The weather was beautiful, 82 F and the water was warm enough (72.5 F). I swam the course twice and ran one lap of the run. The race was going to be a beach start, another first for me! The water was knee to waist deep quite a ways out, and the Team USA coach, Mike Ricci, suggested we do a “dolphin dive” out until we could swim. Basically a running dive where you kick off the ground into another dive. I practiced that a few times and felt comfortable with it.

Race morning we woke up to the coldest day of the entire festival, with a low of 46 F and a high of only 73 F!  At race time air temp was hovering around 55 F. Sadly (for me), the chill managed to drop the water temperature a full degree to 70 F, which meant the race was wetsuit legal. I have never swam in a wetsuit, I don’t even own one, so I knew I was racing without one. But I hoped everyone else would have to as well, as it would have put me at a slight advantage! I overheard some guys in the pre-start corral discussing that with a wetsuit they were able to shave 20-30 seconds off their kilometer swim, so as long as you get the wetsuit off faster than that you come out ahead. I heard one guy say he could get his wetsuit off in about 6 seconds!

I started in the Men’s 16-44 wave at 7:20a. This was the largest wave, with about 100 people starting. (There were 444 total competitors in the Age Group competition.) The starting line was wide, so it was only about 3 people deep. At the gun we all charged out into the water. I started my dolphin dive as soon as the water was almost knee deep. I think I did 4 or 5 dives and then started swimming. I noticed while I had already begun swimming there were still people running though the water, which I thought was surprising. Swimming was definitely faster. I took a few kicks to the head in the early traffic, but thankfully my goggles did not lose their seal. Right after the start apparently the wind kicked up some waves and I took several mouthfuls of water instead of air. It got pretty choppy during the swim, which I am certain affected the swim times. The swim course was a large arc around a point, with four turns, each segment about 250m. I came out of the water in 15:10, 49th overall.

I lucked out in transition, as my assigned space was on the first row, so no counting rows to remember where my run gear was. The beach where we exited the water was sandy, and there was no way to rinse my feet, but there was enough grass in the transition area that I was able to mostly clean my feet before putting on shoes. I choose to wear socks on the run, which takes some extra time to put on but I think it is worth it, especially in this case: running with sandy feet sans socks would have been no bueno. I use lock-laces in the shoes I wear for these races to make putting them on quick and easy, but sadly I had neglected to tighten the laces before I dropped my shoes off in transition. This cost me at least 5 seconds, probably longer. I will not make that mistake again. I exited transition in 1:23.

The run was two 2.5km laps along Lakeshore Drive, running along the beach. The run was super-flat, but I did not like the three hairpin turns in the course. Transition exited right by the finish. I exited the water about 20s faster than another Team USA member in my age group, Bryan Lam, though he gained all of that time back in transition. We hit the run neck-and-neck. I hung with him for about a kilometer, but being a little concerned about my leg I held back. Bryan went on to finish 5th. I was passed by a few more runners on the first lap but tried to maintain my pace and keep my head calm. My watched ticked off the first mile at 6:44. I was running behind my goal, but my leg was holding up. The course was dead-straight until just before the first turnaround where it veered left. It looked on the course map like there would be a nice loop there, but instead we ran past that loop by about 40m to a hairpin turn and then back. The next turnaround was another hairpin about 250m before the finish line. My watch beeped again and showed 6:52 for mile 2. I knew at that point I would miss my run goal. My leg was getting achey, but not really weak, so I tried to pick up the pace. After the third turnaround I tried to stop worrying about my leg and started to give whatever I had left.

I was giving it all I had left heading into the final 200m. The night before the race I had been scouring over the start lists to size up the competition. I didn’t know where I was as far as place, but we all had our name printed on our uniform, so I started scanning the folks ahead of me for names I recognized. At about 100m left Tim Yount, one of the Team USA managers, stepped from the sideline to hand me an American flag. At right about that same moment I recognized one of the names ahead of me, a fellow from the United Kingdom. He was already on the blue-carpeted finish chute, about 50 feet ahead of me, though it seemed like so much farther. Flag in hand, I ran as hard as I could. Then I realized he was slowing down! I kicked it with everything and caught him right at the finish! We tied for 10th place, with a final time of 37:45!

AR:  What were your interactions with the other Team USA members?  Did you watch any of the other events?

Matt Hanlon:  At the course preview and team meeting on Thursday I got to meet the rest of the Aquathlon team, as well as the Long Distance Triathlon and Aquabike teams. It was really cool to talk with people from all over the country who compete in the sport. Most of the folks had competed at Nationals last year to earn a spot on the team. There was a significant support staff at the event as well. Tim Yount and Lauren Rios were the team managers and were extremely helpful to make sure we knew where to go, when, and especially what the race rules were. Lauren sent out daily emails which were invaluable. Mike Ricci, the Team USA coach, was helpful in answering all sorts of questions from myself and others about rules, the course, the start, transition, race strategy, etc.

Unfortunately, I was not able to watch any other events at the festival. I arrived Wednesday after the day’s events were concluded and left Sunday before that day’s events began. However, I did finish my race before the elite waves had exited the water, so I was able to watch the elite men’s and women’s Aquathlon, which was a lot of fun. The elite men’s race was won by Matthew Sharpe (CAN) in a time of 29:55, and the women’s by Emma Pallant (GBR) in 34:30. The Canadian men actually took home a podium sweep!

Congratulations to Matt!  For more coverage on Worlds and Team USA, here is an article from USA Triathlon.  We can watch Matt and other top Aquathletes (is that a word?) at the US National Aquathlon championships on October 1 in Austin.  That event is at the Pure Austin Quarry Lake site and is in conjunction with their popular Splash n’ Dash series.

Running News

Over the weekend, I watched the NBC coverage of the Zurich Diamond League track meet.  The most exciting race for me was the men’s 5K, with Mo Farah in his last track race.  Mo held on to win, fighting every step down the stretch. Coverage and video from Let’s Run.

Interesting Articles

Our local “semi-pro road racers” Allison Macsas and Mallory Brooks had their Wonderland Trail FKT exploits covered by Trail Runner Magazine.  They’re probably too famous to talk with Armadillo Running from now on….

For those of you (Dan Hannon) not on Strava, here is another Trail Runner Magazine article on the benefits of Strava, along with some useful rules.

Good interview with Mike Wardian.

Upcoming races

I’m not aware of any significant local races this weekend.  Next weekend we have the start of the fall road racing season, with the Zilker Relays on Friday evening and the Brain Power 5K on Sunday morning.

For events outside of Austin this weekend I’ll be following the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, the most prestigious ultra in Europe.  The UTMB course is 105 miles and has over 32000 feet of climbing.  The men’s field this year is stacked and I’m hoping for a duel to the finish between Kilian Jornet and Jim Walmsley.  The race starts on Friday, live coverage from iRunFar.

TrailRoots leader Erik Stanley will be in New Mexico racing a 50K, part of the events at Ultra Santa Fe starting on Saturday.