The alarms go off for 4:30am on Sunday, September 11th, 2011 and 4 dedicated triathletes roll out of bed, with two more set to wake an hour later. For Juniors Stephen Lamb, Aaron Isett, and John McClellan, this is typical protocol for their sport. For Senior Connor Gavin, this is a new experience. Connor set for his first triathlon to be the grueling Olympic Distance--1.5 km swim, 40 km bike, and a 10k run. Connor is no stranger to endurance races; he has raced various half and full marathons in his 21 years of life. But today, Xavier Triathlon Club's first official race of the season, will demand a new type of will and strength.
Arriving at Hueston Woods State Park (spitting distance from Miami University and about an hour out from Xavier's campus) around 6am, the Xavier triathletes grab the first rack in the transition area, beating even the first rays of sunlight to the race area. The excellent fortune would continue throughout the day.
The 3 sprinters and Olympian were joined 45 minutes later by newcomers Malachi Henry and Cameron Rolle. Malachi is no stranger to the triathlon scene; he plans to race the Ironman Louisville in August of 2012. Cameron, a nationally ranked swimmer, had no experience in triathlon, or even clips on a bike.
"Malachi taught me how to get in and out of them last night," Cameron joked after the race. "Today was my first time riding in them."
The race began at 8:05am with over 150 athletes racing into the water for the sprint. The Olympic wave would begin roughly 40 minutes later.
First out of the water was seasoned-veteran McClellan, with a 12:35-750meter swim. The swim was good enough to get him 5th place in the split, 1st in his age group. Next, came Rolle 12 spots later, then Henry in 20th overall. Lamb and Isett arrived out of the water close to the same time of 17 minutes.
With steep climbs and some unfavorable fog with the rising sun in their eyes, the triathletes pushed on, passing some competitors on their way. Henry moved up to the top 7 while McClellan fell back into the mid-teens.
As the first Xavier sprinters raced into the transition area for a second time, Gavin was leaving after a very tiresome 2-lap open water swim. Next was a much more difficult 24.8 mile ride up some of the hilliest parts of the park.
Henry did not fold after throwing down the race's 9th fastest bike split, and instead held to finish under 19 minutes in the 5k, a feat that got him 6th overall, 4th amongst age group racers. His final time was a blistering 1:13:56, winning his age group by 2 whole minutes.
Next came McClellan after racing a career best 21:25 5k run for a final time of 1:17:43, reaching his goal with 2 seconds to spare. His 9/11 tribute flag unfortunately fell out of his pocket during the run, forcing him to hold his index fingers representing the towers as he crossed the finish line. His performance tied his career best place at 3rd place in the age group, losing to only 16 age groupers and 2 elite athletes.
Rookie Triathlete Rolle finished next with a 1:30:29, good enough to earn him 5th in his age group, 57th overall.
Isett ran respectable splits to finish with a 1:33:43 earning him 79th overall. Lamb finished moments later, though due to technical difficulties, his splits and final times were not recorded.
Remarkably, it would be another half an hour after Lamb finished that Gavin would come in on the bike, truly noting how much longer the Olympic distance was. Gavin was all smiles as he returned, about to begin his favorite portion, the run. He set a goal of a 40 minute 10k.
Two laps later, Gavin brought home the Olympic bronze for his age group, finishing with a 2:46:54, a 41:47 run split (12th fastest overall) and a holler at his newfound addiction.
Xavier hopes to continue the energy and success brought this past weekend to Dayton University this Sunday, the first of their 4 weeks, 4 states, 4 races campaign against the MECTC.
Xavier vs. Hueston Woods Triathlon and Duathlon
Sprint Tri/Du 750m Swim/5k Run 20k Bike 5k Run Olympic Tri/Du 1500m Swim/5k Run 40k Bike 10k Run
Start Times Duathletes 8:00am All Duathletes (Sprint and Olympic) Sprint Triathlon 8:05am Sprint Triathlon Men 0-29, Elite Men Olympic Triathlon 8:25am Olympic Triathlon Men 0-29, all Elite Men
8:07am Sprint Triathlon Men 30-39
8:09am Sprint Triathlon Men 40-49, Male XL1, XL2, XL3, Male MTB
8:11am Sprint Triathlon all Women
8:13am Sprint Triathlon Men 50+, all Teams
8:27am Olympic Triathlon Men 30-39, Male XL1, XL2, XL3
8:29am Olympic Triathlon Men 40-49, Male MTB, all Teams
8:31am Olympic Triathlon all Women
8:33am Olympic Triathlon Men 50+ls.
8:00am All Duathletes (Sprint and Olympic)
8:05am Sprint Triathlon Men 0-29, Elite Men
8:25am Olympic Triathlon Men 0-29, all Elite Men