"Best of Eight Triathlon" in
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 havent 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 its 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
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
If you have never seen a Velodrome, the angle of the turns
is very steep. At first ride, its 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
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