• Posted Jun 17, 2007

BIKEIOWA's post-guide to the Hy-Vee Triathlon. 300+ photos and a few pondering words will have ya wishing you would have been there!

Over 350 Hy-Vee Triathlon photos have been posted. The Juniors Race, Iowa Outdoor Wellness Adventure (I.O.W.A.) , Amateur Race and the Elite race make up the gallery. We dedicated this weekend to spending time downtown either volunteering with the Valet bicycle parking, checking out the expo or cruising through town waiting for the Sunday races.
Here is my take on the weekend: I've got a whole new-found respect for quite a few friends who participated in the Hy-Vee Triathlon this past weekend. More on that below. This was a race where your average Joe/Jane could participate in where world class athletes would later race almost the same course only few hours later. I don't think the public realized just how big of an event this race was! The biggest purse of any triathlon in the world was offered. $700,000 overall and $200,000 each to the male and females winners. Of course they get a free Hummer too.
Iowa Outdoor Wellness Adventure (I.O.W.A.) I was very surprised by the lack of attendance at the I.O.W.A. on Friday and Saturday. Was it too hot? did the public not know about it? Was it too hard to get to? Was it too separated by the race course? did the medis scare everyone off? The I.O.W.A. was held on the Capital grounds which was a pretty good spot all in all, but you had a heck of a time getting to the expo if coming from the downtown area. We were on bicycles and still had a hard time navigating there. Especially on Saturday when the roads were getting closed down for the Juniors race. We volunteered for the Valet Bike Parking on Saturday from 4pm-7pm. I was instantly amused by the fact we were stationed right next to the gargantuan Hummer display. Something was not right about that... We had a nice booth with a shaded fenced in area to watch your bike while you checked out the Expo. We took in 8 bicycles over the 3 hours period, but knew we would have taken in much more if the expo would have been packed. It was just too easy to ride the bike from vendor to vendor. Everyone who used the Valet parking was appreciative of our efforts and it gave me some track-stand practice time behind the booth :) Still, the I.O.W.A. was packed with cool vendors, clinics and things to do for the outdoors types. You could learn how to kayak in a big pool, rock climb, play Frisbee golf, watch a bicycle stunt show, learn how to mountain bike and have a awesome lemonade Red Bull slushy (even if it was $6!). We didn't get a chance to make it up on Sunday, but I hope participation was better. Next year I hope they can make it more of a seamless transition between the expo and the triathlon. I think the Expo was still a success all the way around! Thanks to the CITA folks and others who volunteered all weekend!
Juniors Race We just caught the finish of the females race at the finish line. Those 15 years old chicks can still motate!
Amateurs Race We got up at 5:00 am to make sure we would see the 6:05am start of the Amateur race at Gray's Lake. The order of the events was Swim, Bike and Run. The entire Gray's Lake area was flooded with athletes, coaches, family and racers. What defines an athlete? Is it the lean mean muscular 20-something dude? The trim and overly fit female? the 50-ish hairy bald guy (think about it)? The dude with speedos and a large gut? wait... anyone with speedos...? the middle-aged mom? Me (if I could swim) It was amazing to see all the body types! All the above were there in full force. Each age bracket was given a different colored swim cap and after the star spangled banner was sang the speckles of swim caps came together in a rainbow-like effect as the racers were shuffled into their respective staging areas to await the swim. the swim - imagine the old scooby-do cartoons where the villain almost gets eaten alive by a school of piranhas. That's what the swim looks like for the first couple hundred meters. On your Mark, Set Go! an array of swim caps, arms flying knees high as the racers try to find deeper water. About waist deep and they are diving in. You can instantly see the pack break-away as the seasoned swimmers easily outpace the amateurs. Still, the slowest swimmer out there would still be swimming circles around me. The swim took them clear around Gray's Lake to the West and and back down parallel to the bridge and then to the East of the beach area. Wait - did I say I had a new-found respect for a lot of people? I a had a ton of friends who were virgin triathletes who made us all proud! I still laugh at the text message I received from Jamie sometime in March shortly after he joined the YMCA to take a beginner Tri class to lean how to swim. he could not have said it any better. "puked in the pool... teacher pissed". the Bike - Somewhere around 35 minutes the main packs were exiting the water toward the transition area for the bike leg. We watched at the transition area for quite a while and then hopped on our own bikes to pedal to the devil! We had heard there was a devil siting on the Grand Hill near 56th ave. This was the biggest baddest hill on the amateur race course and the devil wasn't letting anyone pass with ease... We got the hill and found a bikers haven as there were at least 40 bicycles in the yards and cyclists half out in the road with cowbells, air sticks, and a whole lot of hot air. Oh yeah.. did I mention the devil? Kim West had on his devil costume and was agging on the racers on the steepest part of the hill. He certainly seemed to favor the young pretty woman, but the devil shows no mercy to anyone... especially the poor sole who was walking their bike up the hill. All the hooting and yelling made that hill climb for many racers. We saw smiles, laughter, wheelies, wittiness, teeth grittings, snot strings, cleavage and mammal-toes and that was just the spectators (just kidding...) Answer me this. If you are wearing a time-trial helmet, overweight by 30+ pounds and going 12 miles and hour, what is your speed gain over the entire race versus a normal helmet? [insert jeopardy theme here...] I don't have the answer, but my guesstimate tells me that those trees that fall in the forest still make noise... did I mention speedos? Oh yeah... I did on the swim section... next topic... Then there were the bikes... the stuff I was looking at. There certainly was a spectrum of bicycle types on the race. Most were mid to high road bikes or tri-specific bikes, but then there were the hi-breds and mountain bikes. WTF!?! Most racers were definitely in their lowest gear toward the top of the hill. There were however a few "masher-types" who were in their smallest rear cog nearing the top of the hill. Were they "crazy" like their bracelet said or did they not know how and when to shift? the run - We didn't get a chance to see the transition from the bike to the run, but did catch the run on the first of two laps downtown and was able to pedal up the hill to see many a racer finish in fine strides. Even the dude who puked half way down the finish line kept his stride. Only a few finished walking, others were waddling with pain while the majority just ran right in through the chutes. There were even a few bloody nipples. Kudos to those who still had enough energy to make it a sprint finish The finish line set up was picture perfect. Just like the ones you see in the races on TV. On the Jumbo-tron we could see the racers who were just about the round the corner towards the finish line. CONGRATULATIONS TO: Austin, Molly, Halvey, Jen, Jones, Wes MFB, Margo, Beth, Heather, Lou, Scott T, Dori and Don P and many others that I did not see!! We stayed around and watch the finish line for quite sometime then met up with a bunch of racers who were getting ready to take the shuttle back to Gray's Lake to get their bikes an equipment. All the racers we knew were in great spirits and if they were sore, they really didn't show it. We met up with a group of cyclists and rode down to the Locust Tap for a few beverages until the elite females started around 1:30.
Elite Race We got back down to Gray's Lake about 1:20 and noticed the ladies had already started. All the info we saw said a 1:30 start time. the men did not start until 4pm. The elites had their own starting area and actually had to dive off a dock-like structure, swim down to the buoys and back again. Once back, they had to sprint out of the water and run down the dock and dive back in. I'm not sure what the double-diving was for but it was cool to watch! We watched much of the transition to the bikes and then hopped on our own steeds bound for Court Ave. The elites had a different bike race course than the amateurs. The ladies had to do 8 laps downtown and we figured court Ave would be a great place to watch them and it was. The wind had really picked up and was blowing northeast. It was enough to make the American Flag stand straight out. They just flew down Court Ave at 25-30 mph...! We met the father of one of the elite's. Her last name was Bennett and she was from the USA so she because our "favorite" to win. Her husband was an elite male and her father had raced in the amateur race so it was all in the family with the Bennett's. After the bike leg, we made out way up to the East Village to watch them run. We got a good spot where we could see the runners coming and going on the course. The "NBC Sports" motorcycles were videoing both the bike and running legs. Bennett did actually win the race! We only saw the Bike leg for the elite males. I took several photos and some video along the S-curve West of Court Ave.

All in all, what a great event for Des Moines! Next year will be an Olympic qualifier so look out 2008! It was a great weekend to spend downtown. I enjoyed all the roads being closed down where the bicycle could roam freely. It was cool to see all the pedestrian and bicycle traffic all over the place. It was almost surreal reality of what Des Moines could be like when they get designated as a Bicycle Friendly Community. Bottoms Up. See the photo gallery for all the action. Full results here:

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