This race is awesome but also awesomely hard. I had peaked for Challenge Atlantic City on. 6/28/14 and instead of taking a break I just kept racing. I knew what I was doing, all my favorite races were in the summer and I wanted to do them rather than try to peak late in the fall. Also I am likely racing in Israel in January and so racing now then taking a break was a better idea for that race too.
My results had gone from 1st, to 2nd to 3rd heading into this. The downward projection of a post peak athlete. But I had to try, Savageman is one of THE races. It’s got it all. Brutal boarding on insane climbing on the bike. A picture perfect venue and swim. Top race organization and the vibe and feel of people who love the sport. And fan. Oh my gods the fans! They line the “wall” half like Tour de France fans looking to cheer you up the hill and half like Nascar fans looking for a crash. They get more crashes as only a hand full make it up the “wall” a 30+ percent climb that starts the 8 miles of misery to the top of Savage Mountain. It’s so insane that if you get over it they put your name on a brick at the top.
All that and they treat pros well. And we rolled deep to this event. John Kenny of the US Pro Tri Team took the swim out like he was a fish-man. The day before he was hanging at the pro house in USA Swim gear. Dead giveaway that he would win the swim. I tried to go with him for 100m then realized if I wanted to race beyond 150m I should let him and the other super swimmer that was with go. Tom Wood, winner of Beach 2 Battleship came by me and he new the course which was thankful because there was smoke on the water and fire in the sky? Ok, bit of light fog. Nevertheless he swam and sighted well and we came in together. I beat him out of t1 and was in 3rd. By the Wall which comes at mile 19 I had been passed by Andrew Fast, and Kelly the two time defending champ and maybe one other.
As the wall approaches you head the crowd. The noise. Both sides lines with people. The wall was hard and spiked my heart rate and making matters worse the road surface at the steepest section is really rough so I had to pick my line perfectly. People who aren’t in the pointy end of the race would be wise to not follow too closely to anyone as they may get taken out by toppling athletes or get forced to take a crappy line which could also force you to not make it.
I road the rest of the race solo. It was sublime. It was stunning. It was peaceful and pretty. I suffered like a dog and tried my best to really push the ups and bomb the downs. With 7000 feet of climbing it had bunches of both. A nice cheer section was on “killer miller” which is near the end and has 22 percent grade. I got a split that I was 5 minutes back from the next guy and realized the racing part of the day was over but I wanted to go hard and not truly stroll it in.
The run is woods and a mix of road trail and camp grounds and I loved it so I just ran for me and kept a pace that was respectable but took no risks of a DNF. I clearly didn’t have it mentally or physically to move up in the field. I was spent from a long season but was inspired to just keep running and ultimately finished inside the top 10 beating some great athletes that I had admired in the past.
So now it’s time for a break. Then back to work for 2015, and a very early start of the season in Eilat Israel. Anyone wanting to join me should let me know as I am looking for travel buddies.