Penticton Update #1
Posted August 23, 2004 01:15 PM
Last year it was wildfires in the Okanagan, this year may be the floods! We're now in Penticton after spending the weekend in Kelowna. Bob was entered in the Kelowna Apple olympic distance triathlon that was to have been held yesterday, Aug 22. We arrived on Friday afternoon and after checking into our motel headed down to the lakefront in order to check out the swim course. The wind was quite strong and the water was very choppy. We donned our wetsuits and headed out to do one loop of the 750m course. From the moment we started swimming we were tossed around like corks and were fighting against the waves. It was impossible to bilateral breathe. I felt like I was in panic mode the entire time as it was very difficult to sight a course from buoy to buoy. Bob and I swam closely together as I think we were both afraid of being separated. Even though the swim only lasted 14 minutes it felt like hours. Needless to say my planned second loop never materialized.
Saturday was spent getting Bob ready for the race the next day. We attended the pre-race briefing in the late afternoon where the organizers advised the athletes that, as the lake temperature was 24 degrees, it would be a non-wetsuit swim. Wetsuits were banned (their terminology)! A shocked gasp went up from the athletes. 22 degrees is the cutoff point. We headed out to dinner just as the rain began to fall.
At 5:30am on Sunday we got up to find that it had been raining heavily all night. The rain was still falling as we loaded up the car and headed down to the race site. Bodymarking was done under tents and was a very slow process as everyone had extra clothing on to fight against the rain and the cold. 15 minutes before the first wave of the race was to have started the race officials announced that even though the water temperature was 23.5 (still 1.5 degrees over the acceptable max) that wetsuits would now be "optional". Luckily Bob had packed his, just in case, though obviously many others had not as grumbles and groans were heard throughout the crowd.
The first group to swim headed down to the lake but were held in the warm up section due to poor conditions on the lake. Approximately 40 minutes after the posted start time for the race the first swimmers were allowed to enter the start chute and were told that the race would begin in 3 - 4 minutes. Then moments later they were told to exit the water and return, with all the other athletes, to the transition area to wait for at least 1 hour while race organizers determined their next move. Apparently a thunder and lightning storm had come up over the lake and there were lightning strikes into the lake. In addition, the bike and run courses had been flooded overnight and the fire department were still dealing with trying to pump out the flooded areas. Of course, during this time the rain continued to pelt down.
We headed to a nearby hotel to wait and keep somewhat warmer. Finally it was announced that the swim portion of the race was cancelled and that the event was being turned into a duathlon (run/bike/run). Many atheletes called it a day at that point and began removing their bikes and other items from transition. By the time Bob got to his bike, mere minutes later, it was further announced that the entire race was being cancelled. Not only the age-group race but also the elite race which was to have been held later in the morning.
We packed up the car and headed back to the motel to get warmed/cleaned up. Packed up the car, had a late breakfast, and decided to head out to Penticton. As we passed by the race site we decided to stop and just have one last look at the swim area. We're glad we did as the elites had decided to hold an unofficial race of their own! They swam, did not bike as the roads were still too wet, and then ran the run route. A few diehard spectators cheered on their support. We saw Jonathan Caron, who had stayed with us a few years ago, and had a great chat with him afterwards. Got an elite's point of view on the entire race debacle.
We had hoped for great things at this race. Bob had qualified at the recent New Balance 1/2 Iron, where he won his age group, for the long distance championships in Frederica, Denmark in August of 2005. However as the dates for this event have not yet been announced they may conflict with Ironman Canada 2005, which I will be doing. The Kelowna Apple was to have been an age-group qualifier for the short course championships in Hawaii, 2005. While a superb athlete at any distance, the short course suits Bob best in terms of training schedules/work/energy levels etc. The championships in Hawaii would have allowed us to go to that race - then the plan was to have stayed in Hawaii to spectate at Ironman Hawaii the following weekend. The best laid plans...! Bob had changed his training focus from Ironman Canada to the Kelowna Apple in the last 6 weeks or so with the goal of qualifying for the short course championships. So now we're back to square one. Hopefully there will be another qualifying race, in 2005, that is fairly close to home so that Bob can still try to win a spot.
So now we're in Penticton settled into our rental house. The forecast for the coming week is rain, rain and more rain so we'll see what we end up with on race day. Still a few days for the forecast to change and improve. We'll take it easy this week and just have some light workouts to keep the muscles moving. Of course we'll be glued to the TV early Thursday morning watching to see if Simon Whitfield can win gold again at the Olympics!
Will post again in a few days...