If there was one moment that summed up the vibe at this Saturday's South Davis Splash-N-Sprint triathlon, it was the enthusiastic DJ spinning the 80s kitsch classic “Hot Hot Hot” while the cold rain poured down on racers and spectators alike. People danced despite the weather and cheers echoed in the background. Clumps of families grouped themselves under the pavilion, eating halves of bananas and cups of sliced strawberries either waiting for their loved ones to cross the finish line or congratulating contestants on their completion of the course.
Making the best of a cold, wet morning. That was the overall spirit of the day spent outside the South Davis Rec Center on May 10th.
Racers began registering in the gym there around 7:00 AM and it was looking likely like it was going to be an arduous one with dark grey clouds threatening to spoil the morning. After a quick pep talk from an MC, the 350 meter swim began in the warm indoor pool with gym-goers in the rec center viewing the events from an upstairs room while on their stationary bikes, treadmills, and ellipticals. On the opposite end were risers filled with familial spectators cheering on their athletes.
The pool area erupted with cheers as the first swimmer jumped into the water. Since the 350 meter swim had to be done by nearly 300 participants in only one body of water, they entered one at a time as they passed a race coordinator who relayed athlete numbers to someone who could activate their race chip as they jumped feet first into the pool. The water was soon churning with swimmers who had lined up by expected pace as they snaked through the chlorinated water to make it to the end.
After they left the water, racers padded out of the pleasantly warm pool area out across the slip-proofed sidewalk towards the open transition area where they jumped on their bikes and followed coordinators’ emphatic arm gestures towards the correct routes. The bike ride was 12 miles long that ran along bustling Bountiful roads that were alive with people trying to complete Saturday morning chores. Racers had to be extra careful to stay out of everyone’s way while still peddling on pace for a win. This was a major reason racers were asked to not wear headphones.
Because the swim was started in such incremental stages, it never felt like there were large packs moving through the different stages of the triathlon. This was both good and bad. Good, because family members could easily locate family members moving from stage to stage. This also made matters tricky as there were often people nearly headed on a collision course for each other as runners, cyclists, and those on the novice track were constantly transitioning from one sport to the other and trying to avoid getting in each other’s way. Chipper event coordinators did their best to direct traffic through the busy central nervous system of the transition area, doing their darndest to keep all on the right track.
After the 12 miles spent on the bike, riders hopped off to begin their 5k race, approximately 3.35 miles. (FYI: the novice division completed a 150 yard swim, 2.4 mile bike ride, and a 1.5 mile run.)
Runners looped around the block and returned downhill toward the rec center to run through the erected finish line where the finisher’s time popped up in big, bold type on a screen in front of them. This elicited the best reaction from Julie Keyes, winner of the women’s division who shouted in excitement as she crossed the finish line, exclaiming that she’d hit a new personal record by a whopping four minutes. Impressive for such a short distance.
The steady stream of runners continued to file in through the finish line as family members held signs and hugged their racers. Novice finishers ages five and older completed their races in the most adorable of fashion. The whole event really was a family affair with entire clans clearly enjoying spending their morning together swimming, cycling, and running even with the less than cooperative weather.
The top overall finisher was 26 year old Bountiful native Joel Bischoff who came in at 56:16.04, a minute and four seconds ahead of the racerbehind him. Rounding out the top three were Matthew Boerke of SLC with a time of 57:18.87 and Ryan Thierbach of Sandy who clocked in at 58:19.15.
The top female finisher, Julie Keyes from Bountiful (43) finished with an impressive 1:05:13, barely ahead of second place Deborah Battaglia who finished at 1:05:30. Deborah Biesinger rounded out the top three with a time of 1:06:39.
For a full list of division winners for both the sprint and novice races, visit the Splash N Swim website.
Some of my favorite moments included watching the littlest girl triathlete I’ve ever seen make her way from the transition area onto her bike to the cheers of the crowd. I also loved hearing the congratulatory chatter from friends and family about their race finish, regardless of their times. One of the best side comments I heard from a racer was when he was suiting up for the cycling portion of the triathlon. In response to the cheers from those on the sidelines encouraging him he shouted, “If I didn’t die in the water, I’m not gonna die on land!”
Another favorite was when a young man rejoined his friends post-race. They asked him how he felt and he laughed and said, “Fine. I probably should’ve trained, though.”
No matter if participants crossed first or last, I was impressed by the accomplishment of each. There were people there of all shapes, sizes, ages, and genders and they all chose to spend their morning doing something more difficult than your average Saturday morning fare (I’m looking at you, cartoons and giant bowls of sugary cereal). So congrats to everyone who finished, everyone who trained, and everyone who cheered on the sidelines. Until next year.