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"Best of Eight Triathlon" in Chile

1996 - This past November, I was enticed by race organizer Rodrigo Salas to compete in the "Best of Eight Triathlon" in Santiago, Chile, held the week after I competed at the World Championships in Australia. The title is called “Best of Eight” because it was to consist of eight triathletes from seven different countries in the Pan American territory. However, on race day, there were nine participants from seven countries. The race was hard to pass up because in addition to New Zealand, Chile is one of my favorite destinations. The scenery is incredible and the people are good-natured.

The race was held in association with Feider, a 10-day international sports fair showcasing sport and sport equipment manufacturers. Athletes from a number of Pan American countries were invited to participate, and in addition to triathlon, the $1 million dollar fair budget included gymnastics, aerobics, basketball, soccer, motor cross, volleyball, cyclocross, karate and even a mudslinging four wheel drive contest.

I arrived in Santiago from Australia on Thursday, after traveling for 29 hours via Auckland and Buenos Aires. The travel isn't too bad when you realize that the alternative is to fly the other way around the world, which would take 43 hours, according to my

travel agent. I try to forget how many time zones I cross in order to trick my body as quickly as possible to the time zone where I am currently.

The race consists of a 400-meter pool swim, 12.5 kilometer Velodrome bike and 4.5 kilometer track run. I know Javier Rosas from Mexico because he just beat me at the World Championships. I also know Juan Pablo Grez from Chile. Both men are known for being good swimmers and runners. I haven’t heard of the other six athletes. This worries me as the swim is so short and drafting is allowed on the bike in the Velodrome. Would the race come down to the run?

The Velodrome is a creative concept for the sport of triathlon because it’s spectator-friendly. This will be the first Velodrome triathlon in South America; Australia and France have also used the Velodrome concept. I competed in a Velodrome triathlon

during the Australian Triathlon Grand Prix series in 1995.

We aren't able to practice on the Velodrome until the night before the race because Megadeth had a concert in the Velodrome the previous night and clean-up took all day. I skip the concert; Megadeth just isn't hard core enough for me.

If you have never seen a Velodrome, the angle of the turns is very steep. At first ride, it’s very intimidating for even the most experienced rider. A few of the athletes are timid to even go high on the turns for fear of falling. The track is made of cement, with a

few areas chipping away.

Another scary thing about the Velodrome is that if your cranks are too long, the pedal could hit the cement on the turns and put you in a tailspin. All I have is 175mm crank arms and if I go 12 miles per hour or slower, my pedal scrapes the cement. This is a great training concept for maintaining high speed. The faster you go, the more your body leans toward the center of the track and the less likely you are to scrape your pedals.

For the three nights leading up to the race, I awake between 3:00 and 4:00 AM bright eyed and bushy tailed, as well as extremely frustrated. I never went to bed before 11:00 PM. After spending two and a half weeks in Australia, my body thinks bedtime is just my afternoon nap. The race doesn't start until 11:00 AM and I am awake at 4:00 AM after going to bed at midnight. I try counting down from 500 twice. I take deep breaths and do the relaxation stuff. I sing, hum, read, count sheep and nothing is working. I visualize the race, which is great, but it only makes me nervous. At 8:00 AM, after tossing for four hours, I arise from my mattress.

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