As you can tell from the photo, the Beach Bum triathlon is a triathlon that takes place right there on the beach. And I don't mean that only the swim and run take place there; the whole darn thing, bike included, is right there on the beach. Fortunately for us, the beach sand is very hard packed, which makes for more pleasant riding conditions. Some folks even braved it on their road bikes!
The race went off with a 500-meter swim in the ocean. I love swimming in the ocean at Hilton Head Island. It's not the clearest water I've been in, but the temp is just right. Ten or twelve years ago, I worked on the beach with Shore Beach Service and every morning before putting on the lifeguard hat, I'd take a nice swim in that very sea.
Back to the race. I started out hard, but found myself in fourth place by the first turn buoy, fifty meters out. Rounding the turn, I managed to take a better line for buoy number two, and I took the lead. Just as I was noticing two competitors off to my right, and after realizing my feet were no longer being tapped, I found myself taking a bit of a beating from the left. Or was I doing the beating? Perhaps a bit of both.
I took a breath on that side to see who was my company. Turns out that Christie, a former HHI High School swimmer (and soon to be Western Kentucky swim stud) was matching me stroke for stroke. We rounded the final turn together, after my numerous attempts to pull ahead of her. I waited to see which of us would hit the better waves coming in, but we ended up right about together. I hit solid ground and stood up, only to see Christie (and Radek Parnica, the local tri stud) bolt out of the sea without me. I was proud of Christie for putting the whupping on me, and for keeping me honest in the swim. She's one to look out for in the swimming world.
Next up was a six-mile beach ride. I had borrowed a mountain bike for this leg of the race, so I made my way to transition to find my ride. Once there I carefully dripped bottled water on my feet before putting on my trusty Type A's (greatest shoes out there!). I didn't want to get any sand-induced blisters. I know, that was pretty weak...
The bike ride was tough! Actually, it was much harder than I anticipated. We did a mile and a half with the wind, three miles into the wind, and finished with a mile and a half with the wind. Six miles never seemed so tough! The mountain bike did me proud, and I managed to ride flat-out for most of the way, to be certain I'd have a lead starting the run.
Note: riding a mountain bike flat-out on the beach might leave the back a bit tight. Fortunately, this tightness doesn't last long, probably a result of the short duration of riding. I hobbled a few steps, then found my stride. About midway to the turnaround, I realized it was stinking humid out there. Wow, I forgot what it's like to run mid-morning, on the beach, in South Carolina, in July. Streaking down the beach, amongst the morning beachgoers, wearing my flashy Splish briefs and a number belt was a unique experience. Were it not for the number belt, I might have gotten a few (dozen) more strange looks.
I crossed the line in first, and eagerly awaited the stream of happy (and hot and sandy and dirty and sweaty) beach bums to follow. What a great event! Our reward (in addition to an abundance of sandwich creme cookies) for finishing the beach bum tri was awaiting us: top ten in the 40+ and 39 and under categories was a highly coveted coconut monkey. Mine, upon further examination, turned out to be a pirate (not a monkey dressed as a pirate, as initially thought).
I hope I get a chance to race with all the Hilton Head and Go Tri Sports crew again. I really enjoyed being out there with some class-act locals, such as Jack and Nick Felix, John John Alvarez, Papa Alvarez, Christie, and many more.