No Time for writing today so instead I'll leave you with this article from the Bridgton News about last weekend's off road tri. This weekend is the final race of the EFTA series. Hopefully I'll be able to hold onto the slim lead that I have in the overall expert competition. Math isn't my second language but I THINK that if I keep the dude in second place from beating me by more than two positions than I'll be ok. Now if I only knew who he is...
enjoy the article.
Great Adventure Challenge 2010
By Wayne E. Rivet
When Rick Nelson of Edgecomb enters a race, his goal is always to win it.
Although the Great Adventure Challenge was a race format Nelson had never competed in before, his goal remained the same.
“My main goal coming into the race was to have fun in a race format I’ve never competed in. I mainly race mountain bikes so, on paper at least, it looked like a race I could do well in,” Nelson said. “I go into any race I compete in with the goal of winning no matter how silly or impossible it may seem. I didn’t really expect to win, but I sure was shooting for it and was lucky enough that everything (except for the kayak) fell into place so that I could.”
Nelson posted the fastest individual time of 2:02:48 at Saturday’s Great Adventure Challenge at Shawnee Peak. A record field took part in the triathlon, which benefits Good Neighbors, Inc. located in Bridgton. Good Neighbors provides support services to individuals in western Maine with intellectual disabilities.
“The race was an absolute blast. I was taken by surprise how noodly my legs were in the transition jog between the kayak and bike stage, but overall, I’d say that the ‘run’ was the most difficult and potentially the most rewarding,” Nelson said. “The views from the mountain are truly majestic if you can manage to slow your breathing and clear the sweat from your eyes long enough to enjoy it!”
Nelson made an incredible comeback after starting the kayak portion as the 51st boat out of Moose Pond in 28:53. Rob Smith of Cape Elizabeth, who won the triathlon two years ago, was first to complete the 2.5 mile paddle in 21 minutes 32 seconds. Rounding out the Top 5 were Nate St. Saviour (22:45), Mark Holman (23:03), Roberta McLain (23:11) and Chess McGee (24:07).
McGee, who won the GAC two years ago, made a triumphant return to Bridgton by winning the overall women’s title in 2:30:47 followed by Betsey Miller (2:35:03) and Jennifer Fraunhofer (2:37:47).
“I wanted to beat my time from last year. I did improve in all of the phases. That wasn’t too hard to do on the bike because last year it was so muddy and slow,” Fraunhofer said.
For Peter Dennen, 41, of Cumberland, the Great Adventure Challenge was his first competitive race.
“My goal was to push myself to complete the race. I had no idea what to expect beyond the three back to back activities. I had never done this combo together, but am comfortable in all three sports. I had a blast competing. The adrenaline was nudging me along the entire way. Great course, overall!” he said. “I am not a distance swimmer, so the kayak component was a perfect mix in to the triathlon. My favorite legs were the kayak and mountain bike.”
He finished the kayak 17th overall in 26:18.
Nathan Priest of Yarmouth was quite pleased with his first triathlon experience. He was 10th overall in 2:23:48.
“My only goal going in was to just finish and do the best I possibly can. I didn’t want to leave anything out there and to finish tired,” he said. “And boy, did I accomplish that! I finished second in my age group (17 to 34). Totally blown away by my results!”
Priest described the course as “better than expected.” “It definitely wasn’t easy. The most difficult probably was the run at the end. Running up and then down after the bike ride was tough! Not to mention the sun was pretty bright and hot,” he said. “I got off to an awful start. I hadn’t done a whole lot of kayaking this year and that really showed in the beginning. I started the race sideways and bumped into a few people. If I do it again next year, I will definitely prepare better for the kayak leg of the race. I spent a lot of time biking this summer, and it really paid off.”
He was 50th in 28 minutes, 50 seconds in the kayak, but made up time on his bike, finishing the 14-plus miles in 1:24:46, which was the 17th fastest time.
What a difference a year makes. Last year, the bike course had thick, deep mud and mosquitoes were pesky. This year, the course was dry and extremely fast, and no bugs!
“Since this year was so dry, I think everyone did better than expected overall just because of the dry bike course,” said first-time GAC competitor Mike Towle. “Since this was my first time, finishing was my only real concrete goal.”
One aspect that didn’t change, however, was the brutal climb up Pratt’s Hill.
“I am not sure how some of the front runners were able to ride the entire thing. It is a challenge,” Fraunhofer said.
First-timer Kim Fish had a different challenge. Her bike broke at the first turn off road.
“I jogged eight miles, then rode another competitor’s bike â€” (she had gone down and suffered a collarbone injury forcing her from the race, and her bike was off to the side of the course) â€” to the base of the mountain,” she said. “(I’ll remember) the fact that I did 10 miles of it by foot! Not finishing was not an option.”
While his will to push it was there, Peter Dennen now knows he needs a better set of wheels when he returns next August.
“Being a total rookie to triathlons, the experience that sticks out most in my mind from the moment I arrived was how ‘old school’ my bike really was. I am pretty sure my bike was the only one without shocks and dates back around 19 years,” he said. “Actually, having said that, one of my highlights was having my bike make it through the course without something breaking or falling off.”
Jeff Stack of Portland tried to use a little strategy, sort of.
“I have to thank the guy who was ahead of me (must have been 10-plus years my senior) who set my pace and allowed me to hang on through the section,” he said. “If not for him, I think I would have slowed down, spent more time on the course (he completed the ride in 1:22:33, the 12th fastest time), and suffered for it.”
The unforgiving hike
Chris Shane of Casco appeared confident about “running” up the face of Pleasant Mountain.
“I’ve been training, so I should do okay,” said Shane who was a member of the Norway Savings Bank team.
His youthful exuberance certainly faded by the time he reached the midstation. The rugged two-mile climb taxed many competitors as they slowly put one foot in front of the other.
“The most difficult was probably the hike up the mountain, which was a surprise,” Peter Dennen said. “The steepness is deceiving, but made for a great run down the mountain.”
For Jeff Stack, the most rewarding moment was the descent.
“I thought I would dread it for the sake of my knees, but after all of the exertion, it felt so great to just catch my breath as I bounded down the hill, water in hand, toward cheering people,” he said.
For many athletes, the goal was simple â€” to finish. Despite the grueling nature of this event, many participants found a final surge of energy as they crossed the finish line as family, friends and spectators cheered.
“Not having trained all summer as planned, I went in just looking to finish, so I did accomplish my goal, but I feel as though I actually did better than I would have expected,” said Jeff Stack who was 24th out of 90. “It’s a great race. The lengths are just enough to push you hard without wiping you out.”
The Great Adventure Challenge has changed Stack’s focus.
“As someone who has run several marathons before, I will be hard pressed to run another road race ever again. Knowing that there are competitions out there that allow for racing that has this combination of scenery, fun and exertion â€” I don’t think I could bear to pound pavement past buildings and cars ever again,” he said.
Peter Dennen said the most rewarding moments were each time he crossed a finish line completing one task of the race and “getting fired up for the next leg.”
“Having my wife, kids and parents see me finish was a great highlight,” he said.
Nathan Priest hopes to return to Bridgton. His Great Adventure Challenge experience has him looking for other triathlons to compete in.
“This one is so unique,” he said, “and it serves such a great purpose that I will probably be back.”
Rick Nelson and other racers spoke highly of how well the race was run, the efforts of volunteers and their intentions to return next year.
Rob Smith spent a lot of time at Pleasant Mountain as a youngster since his family had season ski passes from 1965-1975.
“It is really fun to come back to do this race. We (he and his wife, Chess McGee) were so happy to see how much the race has grown and the amazing event it has become,” he said. “Thanks to all the volunteers and the support from the beautiful Bridgton area.”“The volunteers were exceptional. There were always plenty of helpful hands to give you water, take care of your equipment or simply offer motivation,” Nelson said. “I’ve been to a lot of races and I can’t remember one that had such enthusiastic volunteers.”
Rick Nelson plans to defend his title in 2011. Will he make any big adjustments? Maybe just one. He wants to make a dramatic improvement over his 51st place in the kayak leg.
“What I’ll remember most next year is to bring a more suitable kayak. Our 2 1/2 person family barge is great for a slow paddle with picnic gear, but not up to the task for a race,” he said.