By Steve Schurtz
The 2007 HyVee Triathlon in Des Moines was a great event. It is amazing how much work and money must have gone into organizing it. The mandatory prerace briefing and packet pick-up was held on Saturday at the Polk County Convention Center. Mandatory bike check-in followed that at Gray's Lake. It was a fair hike in intense heat from the parking at Waterworks Park to the transition area. Basically, it took all Saturday afternoon to get ready for the race.
The conditions for the race on Sunday morning were nearly ideal. Transition opened at 4:30AM (!), and Hunter Callanan and I were not even close to the first ones there at 4:15. The air temperature was just a little cool after the warmup swim, but the water temperature was 80, just a bit warm. Wetsuits were not allowed. Waves started three minutes apart, so there was some traffic at each of the 5 buoys. Mike Haberman and I met on the beach before the start, and Jerry Juhlin showed up just minutes before our wave. He got caught in the spectator traffic. Hunter and Mike each had a great swim.
The bike course was pretty flat, especially the middle section out to and back from Jordan Creek Mall. There were a few gentle hills on Grand, and a very scary downhill and tough uphill climb at the west end of Grand. The DMPD and WDMPD, as well as hundreds of volunteers, controlled every intersection and major driveway. The volunteer brigade was amazing.
The run course took us on a bike path along the river, past Principal Park/Sec Taylor Stadium, to downtown, where we did 2 1/2 laps on Locust and Walnut. By this time, it had warmed up a bit, but each of the seven times we crossed the river, we were cooled by a gentle breeze. The final part of the run was a 450 meter climb up to the State Capital. That was very cruel! After the first steep part of the hill, we turned onto the blue carpet with viewing stands (the stands from the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, GA) to the finish line. It was quite a feeling to finish in front of that large a crowd with so much cheering support. Just about every spectator along the whole route was very supportive.
The elite women raced at 1PM, and the men at 4:30PM. By that time, it was over 90 degrees with a 25 MPH wind. They had to do the climb up to the Capitol several times in the run and on the bike. Their swim was 2 loops of an out-and-back course off a platform. It was fun to see them come out of the water, run up the chute, and dive back in off the platform.
The triathlon was managed quite well. There didn't seem to be any major glitches, although vehicle traffic flow could use some improvement. It's a challenge to have the transition area several miles from the finish.
I had several people recognize "Wayne's Ski & Cycle" on my trisuit. One Gatorade station volunteer said, "Hey, I grew up in Mason City." Just at that time, another runner beside me said, "I'm from Mason City, too." His name is Mark Kerber. As we were runnning together, I told him the names of the others from Mason City and Clear Lake in the event, and he said, "And there's someone named Schurtz doing it, too." Even during the climb up Grand Avenue on the bike, I heard someone on the side say, "Wayne's....."
Mike, Hunter, and Trish Cobb, also from Mason City, did very well. Maddie Johnson did well in the Youth Elite race on Saturday afternoon, in very hot, windy conditions. I was quite pleased with my race, although the run is an ongoing opportunity for improvement for me. I was just thrilled to finish a few minutes under my goal. This was my first Olympic distance triathlon, only having done Sprint distance events previously. Last December, Gary Ficken had sent my Chris Carmichael's article about setting your goals for 2007 and telling someone about them rather than just internalizing them. I set this goal and was glad to achieve it. The support of my family and friends helped me do that. I'm already looking forward to the 2008 HyVee Triathlon and looking at other Olympic distance events for this summer.