The 2 weeks between the end of IMWI and this race consisted mostly of rest, eating and a few light workouts. In the couple of bikes and runs I did following IMWI my legs felt ok but the energy levels were low so I had no idea how I'd do for the olympic event.
For those that are unfamiliar with the event it is billed as the world's toughest half, and from what I saw on the shorter race they are probably right.
The olympic race started after the participants for the half went off and was in two waves, with my race the first wave off. Overall there were about 165 (100 male/65 female) racers in the olympic plus a bunch doing the race as a relay teams.
Swim 1,500 m: 24:41 (7th fastest male ind)
Felt like a long swim, just tried to take it easy after going out hard the first couple of hundred yards. I thought I was further back but I think there were at least 1/2 dozen relay swimmers ahead of me besides the 6 individuals. Lake was perfect temps and for a freshwater lake was pleaseantly clean and clear. Very little contact and not much else on the swim.
Bike 40k: 1:12:51 (20.4 mph/7th fastest ind male)
Bike was a rolling course with a few decent hills and one really steep short hill. This hill is where the olympic participants earned their savage titles. I passed a couple of people from the olympic leg and a few stragglers from the half in the first few miles. Then after a decent climb the half and olympic courses split. From that point on for about 10-12 miles I didn't see any other riders so I figured there must be a small lead group from the swim that I never saw. I had no idea how many were in front of me. About halfway or so you hit the one really steep climb of about 1/2 mile or more. I was definitely glad for the 27 tooth rear and got up the climb without too much effort. On this hill I caught one cyclist doing the bike leg of a relay team and at the top came within a hundred feet of catching a guy walking his bike up the hill (yes, it was that steep and Dave who started in a later wave told me he saw a lot of people walking). I followed the 'walker' for a few miles and would gain on him each hill until I got passed by a guy doing the race solo but he was not in my ag so I let him keep going. I caught the 'walker' and he had an R for relay on his leg so I knew he was no threat to individual or ag placing for me. The last 5-6 miles are gently rolling to downhill so you can make up some time and the 'walker' and I went back and forth over this period. At the pre-race meeting they warned all participants a lot about the dangerous and technical downhills so I took things real easy on them. Had I ridden the course before I would have definitely gone harder on some of the downhills. Overall I was really happy with the bike as I just tried to go nice and steady and not blow up if I was still a little tired from IMWI. This is an elevation profile of the olympic course:
When I reached T-2 I was pleasantly surprised that there were only about 7-8 bikes total in transition and none on the rack for my age group. I followed the 'walker' out of T-2 as apparently he was doing the bike and run leg of his relay team. When we went by the finish line for our run loop the announcer stated his name and what place his team was in and then said there goes Kristoph Kocan from Meadville PA who is currently our 5th place individual. That was a nice thing to hear and very unexpected!
Run 10k: 48:09 (7:45 pace/9th fastest male ind)
This was not a fast run course. Only one individual male got under 40 minutes, and not by much. At first I was disappointed with my time until I started to see the times of others were not fast either. The run course profile shows it's anything but flat!
I followed the walker guy out of t-2 and stayed about 10 seconds behind him. The first mile was flat along some trails by the water and then up a couple of small hills to the main road. Went easy and did a 7:15 first mile and felt pretty good. The next mile seemed all uphill through a campground road and around some campsites. It was over 8 minutes and I was a little discouraged, but I was still the same distance behind the walker and when I made the loop only saw one guy coming into the loop behind us, but he was flying. Between miles 2-3 the guy flying caught me but he was doing the run leg of a relay so I didn't really care that he blew by me and the walker. I saw the leaders headed out as we did a little out and back and mile 3 was flat to downhill and close to 7 minutes flat. Mile 4 was rolling and near the end you came to the fire tower hill. This was a 1/4 mile climb straight up a dirt path to a turn around and then straight down. The walker and I reached this climb with him about 10 seconds in front of me and when we headed down the path it was only at the bottom that I started to see any other runners headed up the hill. I figured I had a 2-3 minute lead on them and hadn't been passed by anyone other than a relay guy so I should still be in 5th place overall. The last mile was all uphill with three good little climbs and then ended with a quick fast downhill into the start area and a short 100yd run along the path by the shore to the finish line. The walker guy pulled away from me the last mile but I coulnd't see anyone anywhere near behind me, and the last mile you pass the runners on the way out to the fire tower road and I didnt' see any from the second heat that looked like they were within 5 minutes of me.
Finsihed in 2:30:05 for 5th place overall and won my ag by about 7 minutes!
This was definitely not a fast course, and if the bike was hard the run was even harder. The half participants do the same run only twice with a slightly longer loop in the campground, so I was really glad I was not headed out for another loop of that course.
Afterwards they had free massages for the athletes, free french fries and barbecue sandwiches and best of all free ice cream from a local ice cream shop that was really good. This is definitely a top notch event. Deep Creek is a really nice area with lots of great roads for biking. The half course includes a hill so steep that they offer a way around it and if you make it up without stopping you get a brick in the hill with your name on it. After that you have a 7 mile climb up big savage mountain and then a hill after that called killer Miller that is just described as cruel. (At the pre-race meeting the course architect described the half course and his only comment on killer miller was "...and then you come to killer Miller, and, uhm, well sorry.")
The fastest bike split by a pro, Bjorn Andersen, was 2:36 and change and this is from a guy that flirts with 2hr splits on other courses. For anyone interested here's a page describing just why this is billed as the world's toughest half and here's the bike course elevation to back that up:
For awards the winners and age group placers got nice framed pictures of the Savageman logo. And the winner and winners of the age groups got a bonus in that our pictures were all individually signed by Dave Scott. My friend Dave finished 9th overall and got top male master so we both walked away with signed awards.
Next year we are definitely doing the half, and for anyone looking for a great year end race on a great course in a super location should look no further. This race is a must do for many, many reasons and I look forward to coming back next year for the half.