Race report provided by Norman Kim.
Musselman half-iron was held on Sunday, July 14th, in Geneva, NY. By far, one of the best organized races where they get the entire community involved with over 600 volunteers. Jeff Henderson, the race director, and his committee should conduct a clinic on how to organize a triathlon. Mark Danieli, who did this race a few years ago, passed on many good things about this race; and I have read positive reviews about this race in triathlon magazines. So, this year, I made sure to put this race on the to-do list. This was the 10th anniversary of the Musselman. Would highly recommend NEMS to add this race for future race schedule.
Arrived at Geneva late Friday night and checked in at the Athlete’s Village located in the beautiful campus of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Arriving late, missed the kids race and micro-mussel race held on Friday night; micro-mussel is a fun event of a very short course that you have to use a tricycle or a Big Wheel for the bike portion; apparently, grown people dress up in wacky outfits and have a lot of fun – sorry that I missed it.
Saturday, they had the mini-Mussel, a sprint triathlon. On a somber note, during the sprint race, a cyclist tragically died when he collided with a car that was pulled over on the side of the road (apparently, the car ran out of gas) – very sad. Michael Coyle, 38-years old, was an experienced cyclist and triathlete from the Rochester area and rode with the Genesee Valley Cycling Club. There was a moment of silence, and the Musselman half-iron went on in his honor. Prayers and best wishes to his family and friends as they honor his life this week.
There were many unique qualities about this race. An opera singer was performing at Geneva Opera House and he was also competing in the weekend. The first time I have ever seen someone sing the national anthem dressed in a wetsuit.
All events were held at the Seneca Lake State Park with the swim in Seneca Lake. Apparently, there is a high population of zebra mussel in the lake – thus, the name of the race, Musselman. Even had the wall mural in down-town Geneva, as done in the past. They gave out a small stuffed zebra mussel; apparently many have traveled far to photograph with their zebra mussel, and the race organizers are offering a prize for a photo of zebra mussel from Mount Everest.
Race: Had the cleanest swim ever in a tri race. Took the first 200 yards hard before settling in a steady tempo pace. No banging of bodies until the last 400 yards in the narrow channel; being in the 6th of 7 waves, lots of clogging of swimmers. Based on sub-32 minutes, a great swim for me.
Bike course had an out and back double U-shapes along Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. Some rolling hills, but mostly the roads were steady climbs or steady downhills of low grades. Other than the first 6 miles or so of some patches and about 5 miles on the bike path along Sampson State Park that were a bit rough, the rest of the roads were smooth. There were many Mennonite settlements in the area, with horse and buggy traveling along the roads. Although the roads were smooth, had to watch out for those horse droppings. Not super fast bike, but having started in the back, was passing many riders. The draft race results had me averaging 20.7 mph, but Garmin had 21.1 mph (I think the course was a little longer than 56 miles and add from/to transition to mount/dismount area probably got the lower race average).
Run was a different story. The course starts off along the Seneca Lake and is flat for the first 2.5 miles. Thereafter, more ups than downs to about 7.5 miles; then rolling until the last 2.5 miles that duplicates the start as runners return to finish. The challenging thing about the course was the numerous changes in pavement surface – asphalt, bricks, gravel, dirt, grass, cement, concrete, and [fill in the pavement type here]. The toughest hill was at about 6.2 miles that is on a dirt/gravel road that climbs for about 1.3 miles. Add the heat nearing 90 and heavy humidity—felt more like survival the last few miles. A very challenging run. I thought I could do better than averaging 7:22/mile but given the course and heat, I can’t complain about it. Loved that they had half-dozen bands out on the course; kept the runners going.
This race was much more competitive than the Patriot and NE Trifest half-irons. At least in my age group, racers came from more than 20 states and there were many from Canada represented. During the run, it was too easy to back the pace down the last few miles; good thing I kept pushing the pace, as I caught the lead runner in the age group on the last mile (the posted results have it wrong, as there is another guy who finished second in the age group about 50 seconds after me). You can see the results here.
The target time was 4:50, but that didn’t happen. The course and conditions had a way of slowing everybody down. A tough day, but very gratifying to get the top podium spot. The prizes were: a wooden medal made by a local wood-worker/artist (very nice), a bottle of wine from one of the vineyards from Finger Lakes region (can’t wait to open that bottle this week), and a big jug of HEED.
Epilogue: Left Geneva Sunday afternoon, but took over 8 hours to make it to Westford, arriving home very late. An accident near Syracuse exit off of I-90 shut down the NY Thruway, and traffic was diverted to smaller roads. So, after driving for a while, I stopped in some “small town USA” to get gas. I drive up to an intersection, and a car is pulled over; as I approach, I see that the car is on fire. I quickly turn and drive away a couple of blocks to get gas. I wait a bit and drive out; about 15 minutes have gone by now, and I finally hear the fire engines arriving (must have been volunteer firemen). By this time, the car is engulfed in flame. The police soon arrive and divert all cars away, and finally was able to get out that place. A long time to sit in a car after a race (my rear end is about as sore as it ever has been). Glad I was able to work in a massage Monday night.
An aquabike half and 3 half-irons in 6 weeks is a lot of racing. Looking forward to a little time off to allow the body to recover; a family vacation planned next week; and back to the routine to prepare for the Timberman.