Sunday, April 1, 2012

tracks n treads 2012

Most people have a party for their birthday, but if you know me, you know that I don’t do what most people do. For my birthday, I threw the tracks n treads Off-Road biathlon and trail run. The race was held at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. This year, there was also a new and improved race course, more on that later.

It all started back in December when I started planning for the 3rd annual race, this could have been the very last race because when the Metro Tri Club started this race, it was decided that if the race didn’t turn a profit in 3 years, we would discontinue it. Well, I don’t have all the numbers in yet, but I’m sure we turned a profit. That being said, you can start getting ready for next year’s race. I can’t guarantee that it will fall on my birthday again, but I can plan to make it a party atmosphere similar to this years, with food, friends and on fantastic race.

While planning this year’s race, Keith T. who is the clubs trail rat, asked if we could change up the course and have the run in the Big Woods and the bike on the GORC trails. This change would get us off the cross country course and into the woods for the run and although I really liked his idea, I had my doubts that it would happen. The reason was, to make a change like this we would have to spread out across campus, the race would have to cross roads and secure a larger area of the campus. I was pretty sure we would never get it past the University, but I was willing to give it a shot. I spoke with Tim E. my contact at the university and he said he would check on the availability of the area. Our original idea was to hold from the visitor parking lot, but after some checking Tim said we couldn’t do it from there, but we could use the Engineering lot. After checking it out, that area was an even better place to hold it.

Things went pretty smoothly after that, I got the race listed on active, fleet feet, STL Biking and many other sites. Jeff S. designed all the posters and entry forms, and I had them printed and started distributing them. We knew we needed to advertise if we wanted to draw racers, plus we really wanted to get the word out that the run venue was now rugged single track, hoping to draw more trial runners. All in all, things came together pretty well, but the last few weeks were hectic. Mike Wever the president of the Metro Tri Club retired from his real in December and he was a great help with completing tasks that had to be done in the middle of the day, while I was working, but he also had way too much time to think and sometimes my head was spinning with all his new ideas. I have to say, one of his new ideas with some help from Chris N. was to build a portable finish line and oh my gosh, it turned out really great, they did a fantastic job on it.

On Thursday, Mike and I met with some volunteers out at the race site and set up the transition area. Keith and Russ, covered the run course and put up stakes for signs. On Friday I spoke with Scott W from GORC and we agreed that the GORC trials were in excellent condition and we could use them for the race. This is where I have to give a big THANKS to Scott and GORC for helping out, they not only made sure the trails were clear, but they showed up on race day to help out on the bike course. I can’t express how lucky we are to have this group around building and maintaining these trails for our use. Friday afternoon, Keith and some volunteers marked the run course, then Keith went with Mark S and I out to mark the bike course. When we finished marking the course, I just knew that it was done so well, that there would not be an incident of anyone being directionally challenged this year. This is where I start laughing hysterically as I write this, because it seems no matter what we do, every year something goes wrong.

So race day came, I actually forgot it was my birthday until I got to the race and someone said happy birthday to me. I thought to myself, what a great day to have a birthday race, the day was beautiful, the weather was dry and warm, and the trails were in fantastic condition. Ok, so like I said nothing ever goes perfect, just before race day we found out that due to construction we would have to move parking to a different lot, but I thought no problem, it was just the next lot over. We sent out an email update to all the racers telling them to park in lot F instead of Lot E and we also put up signs directing them to Lot F. Well we had some racers park in the wrong lot, but we made an announcement to please move to the other lot or risk a parking ticket, most people didn’t complain, but then there is always one in the crowd. I thought ok, so someone is complaining, don’t let this little issue ruin a great day, if this person gets a ticket it’s their own fault.

Soon it was time for pre-race comments, so Mike made an announcement that I would give instructions, but first, it was my birthday and the crowd sang Happy Birthday to me while my daughter China and her friend Madison picked me up. Well that really made my day, thanks everyone that was really great. I went over the course, and of course mentioned that there was really no way anyone could get lost because we had marked both the bike and run course so well. I heard a few laughs in the crowd, but I really believed what I had just said.

Everyone lined up to start and the race was off. I was expecting to see the first racer come in between 26 and 28 minutes, but to my surprise there were about 7 guys crossing the line into transition in about 24 minutes. I was starting to worry, when Chris one of the club members runs in and yells that some had pulled down the caution tape at the turn and the entire race went off course. My head just dropped, I thought how could this happen, who would do something like this and why. I started asking the runners that came through where they turned and what distance they had on their Garmins. I quickly found out that at least most everyone ran the same course, it was just a shortened course, most of the racers missed on small loop, which made the course 3.3 miles rather than 3.8 miles. There were a few people who ran the long course, but at least they were club members and were very forgiving because it really was something that was beyond my control even though as the race director, I take full responsibility for the mistake. I do however think everyone enjoyed the run course.

See all the run photos here

As I tried to sort out what went wrong, the race continued, runners were finishing as cyclist were racing out of transition to the bike course. The first place trail runner, Garrett Fulkerson, finished in 24:16 which is amazing since he is only 13. Becky Sikorski won the women’s race in 26:48.

With my head spinning about the run course problem, I forgot to call the bike sweeper and tell him the last cyclist had left transition, good thing for me, Mark, my sweeper knows me and figured I completely lost my mind, so he started sweeping after not seeing a cyclist in a while. Good thing too or all those bike course volunteers would still be out there today manning their posts.

The biathlon winner, Anthony Dust, who happens to be the 2011 winner also, came through the finish line like a bolt of lightning finishing in 1:01:40. Here is the real kicker, Anthony came off the run in 7th place, probably 3 minutes back and he won the race by almost 2 minutes, my gosh, he is one fast cyclist, I wish I had his speed. The Women’s winner was no slouch, Erin Fuselier finished first logging a 1:19:10.

See all the bike photos here

Just after the finish of each race, we held the awards ceremony and gave away some great glasses with the tracks n treads logo on one side and the place engraved on the other. Once again this year, a group of club members met at Chuck’s house after a training run and engraved the glasses for this event. Thanks, Chuck, Lori, Patrick and Kate for taking time out to do the engraving.

For all the first place finishers there was an even greater prize, they received a pair of Swiftwick socks. The Swiftwick Company was very generous to sponsor the race this year and give us socks for all age group winners. If you haven’t tried Swiftwick socks you should. I got a pair at a race last year and haven’t purchased any other brand since. I could go into all the reasons why, but all you have to do is wear a pair and you will be a convert. You can also read ROCK Racing’s review of the socks here. I encourage you to give them a try and you can purchase them locally at The Cyclery and Fitness center in Edwardsville.

I can truly say I learned many lessons once again this year, but as a whole it was great event and I think everyone had fun. The new course was fantastic and I need to Thank SIUE and Tim E. for making it possible hold this race on the SIUE campus. Thank you God for the great weather, to the Cyclery for your bike support, to Culligan Water for supplying the water, to Metro Milers for the race timing and the biggest Thanks goes to all the volunteers, without you, we have no race.


To the racers, I hope you had fun and I will see you again next year.

Click here for Biathlon results

Click her for Trail Run results

Robin Rongey - Race Director

1 comment:

  1. What a great race. Well done!!

    And thanks for the comment on my blog. It made me smile all night. I still remember the first time I read your blog and being kind of starstruck when I met you guys coming out of the canoe at Castlewood. Pretty cool that one of my heroes is one of my friends. :)