USTS-Madison: Report (and controversy)-Long!

USTS-Madison: Report (and controversy)-Long!

Post by SBRMJ » Wed, 08 Jul 1998 04:00:00

Since my legs are still sore and it's raining this morning, I thought I'd write
a bit more about the race for those of you who are interested. Additionally,
another course direction controversy has happened (Sharon Donelly has a letter
in Triathlon Digest this AM)and I can add a bit about being not only a
participant in the AG race, but as a spectator of the pro race as well.
(A small disclaimer here: I have known Ken MacKenzie for some time, done many
of his events and must tell you that his reputation is sterling in these
parts...something that this race almost entirely bore out.)

Age Group Race: Nice weather on Sunday helped to make the day. Mostly sunny,
fairly calm wind early in the day. 9 Waves in the AG race, with the 50 and
overs going first and getting a 15 minute head start on the field.  The elites
(all ages) went off promptly at 7 AM, with first class race announcing getting
the crowd primed. Two minute intervals between waves with the last wave, 40-49
(including yours truly), going off almost exactly as scheduled.
The swim, rectangular, was well-marked with large QR buoys at the corners. I
felt I was having a good swim (wetsuits allowed for the AG-ers)but my time was
longer that ever before at this race so: A. I swam slower (impossible:)) B. The
course was long. C) The course was a truly correct 1.5k.  The consensus
afterwards among friends was that it was a bit long.  Water quality was OK,
(described as "tepid" by InsideTri)but not cystal clear.  I'm used to these
inland lakes so I thought it was "normal."
Transition was only 20 yards from the swim finish and off we went. First miles
through the Arboretum (for those of who you know Madison), then "up and out"
Seminole Highway. Miles 10-20, on country roads, are tricky and technical...but
fair. (A great racer, David Cihasky, did miss a quick turn, went down and broke
a collarbone. I saw his wife afterwards and she was relieved that he was
OK...an ambulance arrived quickly on the spot to get him to aid. At age 38, he
is terrific and I hope his recovery goes well.) ALL of these turns had signs
and volunteers. Dave's was the only mishap, out of over 700 racers, that I
heard about on the day. The final miles were very fast through town, with no
parking allowed on the city streets. There was a bumpy and dark half-mile
behind Edgewood College right before the transition, but otherwise a top-drawer
course. Being in wave 9 I passed a lot of folks, and felt I was having a solid
race...only one other racer with a 9 passed me, but there were a few folks with
good swims off the front I didn't know about!

The run was a loop through the Arboretum and followed the first and last part
of the run course. Aid stations every mile. With GU. A few rollers. Having not
done a triathlon run over 4 miles in awhile...well, I was hangin' in OK, was in
7 or 8th place in the AG till mile 4.5 when Jim Boldra went by fast. There is a
tough little hill right at 5 miles and these big old legs fell off. Finished OK
through the BIG Bally's chute in 2:15:57, 10th in the AG, which was the goal I
had back in January when this was announced. On this course, on this day, I was
happy with the result. Awesome competition. The men who I consider the best
Wisconsin racers in this age group, Ken Kuehn and Herb Thompson, were 1st and
5th respectively, with John Kennedy from IL, and 2 folks from out of state (TX
and MN to give you the reach of USTS!) also in the top 5 and my good friend Tom
Gelderman sixth.  See you back on the short course guys!      
Nice finisher's T-shirt..that I might actually wear....decent food after and
then the pro's.....
From a "customer" standpoint, the whole race was terrific. Well thought-out
course design, fine volunteers, aid, and an atmosphere provided by Bally's and
QR and MASS Producations as good as I've seen outside of Kona. If you are
thinking of doing a USTS race yet this year... do it.  That 65-70 dollar price
can look steep, but it was worth it and we felt it was important to support
having the race come to Madison. Steve Locke and I talked about Madison as a
venue and he was terrifically impressed. (Good guy Steve, and had some comments
regarding Pete Kain's situation that were fair and enlightening)

The Pros (getting even LONGER...sorry!):
Outside of the now no-wetsuit swim, an entirely different course. The first
group came out of the water and you really had to be in that first group to
have a chance..or so it seemed. The drafting allowed bike did 4 laps of the
Arborteum course preceeded by a screeching squad car-and it was impressive to
watch...but simply not "our" version of "triathlon." Both the men and women
were terrifically fit and the crowd that stayed to watch...almost 2000
folks...were, however, definitely into watching it.

After the bike transition there was a good "hot corner" spot in the figure 8
run course where you could see both the men and women go by on their different
laps and Eri and I watched the field go by a number of times. There were to be
three total laps, with the final lap changing course slightly heading into the
huge finishing area. This is where the controversy for Donnelly occurred. The
men who finished first had seemingly no trouble knowing to make the small
switch to the finish line, as did Barb Lindquist who won the women's race.
Apparently Donnelly did not hear ..or see...the volunteer's direction over the
crowd noise and started yet another loop of the marked lap course. It did cost
her.
I can't judge what happened because I was watching at the finish, but I did
walk through the whole course that morning just to see how it was laid out and
it seemed obvious enough. A racer in a "zone" though is another matter, so it
was unfortunate. Personally I think course direction is a shared responsibility
and in all honesty felt this course was well-manned on the RD's part. Ken was
actually RIDING the bike that led the run portion of the race to properly
insure that they were taken in the correct direction. If your livelihood is on
the line, part of your job is to be sure of things as well. I only hope that
this glitch will not mar what was a great event. (It was a runners race BTW...a
young kid by the name of Mike Smedley finished 5th after being off the back in
the bike.)

Thanks again to all the folks involved, Dan E. for QR, the Wildmon's for
Bally's, Mike Plant for his continued enthusiasm and in particular Ken
MacKenzie and his crew for their work.  A great day.
Mark Mannebach
(Now...about those results guys....:)
Hey...it's stopped raining!  Been writing this tome for so long it's time for
the pool!