Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Shoddy Journalism Leads to Sensational and Misleading Headlines

You've probably seen the headlines - 'Female Cyclist Forced to Halt Race After She—Gasp!—Caught up With the Men" or "Female cyclist halted in Belgium race after capturing massive lead, catching up to men". Problem with these headlines is they aren't factual, are all based on shoddy journalism, and after a little more examination the actual story is less than what it seems. Does sexism and misogyny exist in professional cycling? Yes, but the situation in this particular race was not the blatant sexism that the headlines and reporting would have you believe!

There were two races taking place the "Omloop Het Nieuwsblad" Elite Men's and Elite Women's race. The men's race was 200km and left  a little under 10 minutes ahead of the women's race which was 123km. Both the men's and women's race were following the same route through the first section of cobbles, the Haaghoek cobbles that start around the 38km mark. Here is a "recon video" of these cobbles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9R5jwf61ewA&t=119s

In the men's race, a breakaway of 4 men reached this first section of cobbles with a 14 minute lead on the main body of the men's peloton. The women's race was "neutralized" or forced to wait around the 35km mark or 3km before the start of the first cobble section. Nicole Hanselmann had a 43 second gap over a group of three other cyclists. At this time, the back of the "caravan" following the men's race was in view and Nicole was about to become part of this string of vehicles.

Have you ever watched a bike race on cobbles? Take two and a half minutes to watch this:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_WWbI9mQ5I 

The race was paused because the lead woman cyclist was about to become part of the trailing vehicle caravan, but she had not yet caught any male cyclists. The main body of males were going slower than the organizers expected. However, the decision to stop the women was strictly a safety issue, you can't have two groups of riders that are competing in separate races with all accompanying support vehicles and officiating crews passing and intermixing on the narrow cobble roads! It must also be remembered that the men's race and women's race diverged at a later point. Had the races become intermixed attempting to separate the riders into their proper routes could have been disastrous!

The question is raised, why force the women to pause, why not force the men to pause since they were caught? Because the men were not "caught". There were four riders 14 minutes ahead and well onto the cobbles so the lead men had actually extended their lead over the lead women at this point. Plus, if you watched the video above you would realize there is no room to pause a race once they are all out racing on cobbles! The women however were still on well paved roads in a place suitable to pause and allow a safe gap to open back up. 

The men's race of 200km would finish at an average speed of 25.4 mph and the women's race of 123km at an average speed of 22.8. The early 14 minute gap by 4 riders in the men's race would be erased and the race would be won by Zdenek Stybar who was not in the early breakaway. On the women's side, the early leader Nicole Hanselmann would be allowed to start first following the pause and given the same lead she had prior to the neutralization, but would start the cobbles with only a 15 second gap and would end up 74th on the day, just under 13 minutes back of the winner, Chantal Blaak.

As I stated before, sexism does exist in cycling. Why is the women's race shorter? Why is their TV and other race coverage much less than the men's? These are all issues that should be addressed, but I would suggest that miss-characterizing what happened this past weekend at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2019 is not the best way forward, especially in this era with daily claims of "fake news".

Most of the race details I've stated can be found at the following two links:
the women's race can be viewed here: 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Did Race Cheat Michael Rossi Attempt to Steal $10,000 by Cheating in a Turkey Trot?

After it was shown beyond a doubt that Michael Rossi cheated to get to the Boston Marathon, Letsrun.com issued a challenge that included this: "we’ll also give him $10,000 if by the end of 2015 he breaks 70:00 in a standard 10-mile course or 20:00 for 5k. 70:00 for 10 miles is equivalent to 3:16:30 for the marathon according to McMillan and 20:00 for 5k is equivalent to 3:14:53 in marathon according to McMillan." To anyone who is a runner and knows anything about racing, they know that a sub 20 5k would be incredibly easy for someone that can run a 3:11 marathon. The point of this challenge was to hammer home the point that Michael Rossi was never in 3:11 shape because if he was, the $10,000 would have been easy money.

On October 24th, Rossi ran the Brain Injury Challenge 5k and proudly tweeted the following:

Here he is starting at the front and looking like it is a 100 meter sprint, did he perhaps break 20 at this 5k?

Michael Rossi lined up at the front of a 5k, started like a sprinter, and finished in a pedestrian 23:51!

On November 20th, Rossi tweeted "it's coming... and right soon." a very vague reference, likely taken from Shawshank Redemption, and possibly referring to going sub 20 for a 5k to claim the 10k:

Then on November 24th Rossi claimed to have run a 20:15 training run 5k:

Michael Rossi has made many claims. He claims he was exonerated of cheating and that he has additional pictures of himself on the Lehigh Valley Via Marathon course. But Rossi never backs up these claims with any proof. Ask yourself this - "If you were able to run a 3:11 marathon and had the fitness to run a 5k in under 20 minutes, but you were now believed globally throughout the running community to be a cheater, would you not accept the challenge and meet it in a publicized manner with proof? Such as at a track with video and witnesses? Or, would you post supposed 20:15 5k training run badges to your twitter feed and infer that something big is going to happen?" Likely, the 20:15 was tweeted to give credence to a sub 20 that Rossi was soon going to cheat to achieve!

Saturday 28th, Rossi tweets the following picture, obviously the start of a 5k, turns out it was the Haddon Township Turkey Trot 5k. 

The next tweet was this photo with the text "results soon":

We have a runner who could win $10,000 just by running under 20 minutes and he doesn't immediately post his time, something like "just missed sub 20 by 26 seconds..." or "I think I might have done it, just ran high 19:##!"?

Many of us who have been following the "Rossi saga" suspected he might have cheated his way to a sub 20 time and were waiting for the results to get posted. 

Finally, results were up:

I have sorted the results based on the chip/gun time differential to show how out of place Rossi is in the results! We have a 6:49 mile pace "runner" surrounded by people who walked the course.Very suspicious for someone going for $10,000 to not have crossed the starting line within seconds of the gun start!  As "Fat Hurts" over on the Letsrun.com message board stated: 

"I sorted the data from the race. 743 runners finished. Rossi started way in the back. Only 29 runners started behind him. This means that to run a legit 20:25 and finish 48th, he would have to pass 667 of the runners in front of him. Nobody weaves past 667 runners to set a big PR in a 5K. He cheated again."

Was he hiding at the back and planning on slipping off the course only to rejoin in time for a sub 20 minute 5k? Did he mistime things and end up at 25 seconds over?

Finally, after results were posted online and the large gap between the chip and gun time was brought up on the Letsrun.com message boards, the following is tweeted by Rossi:

Michael Rossi has since made his twitter private... So far, there is no definite proof Rossi cheated this Saturday, but given his history, it definitely smells funny!

Were you at the race? Do you perhaps have photos or video from the start? If so, I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Running With Cheaters

In 2011 I travelled to Austin Texas for the Livestrong ½ Marathon. I was having a great year and traveled to Texas with a big personal record (PR) in mind. As it turned out, the course was much tougher than I expected, not conducive to a PR. Midway through the race, as I struggled with thoughts of turning a PR attempt into a training run, I was caught by a group of runners, which happened to include Lance Armstrong and Joan Benoit Samuelson. So, instead of quitting on my PR attempt, I caught a second wind and led our small group of runners for several miles. Eventually Lance would pull away from me, but I went on to knock 10 seconds off my previous half marathon PR! My full race report from then can be found here.

Of course I was excited about the experience. Not only had I run a ten second PR, bettering a time from eight years prior, but I had run with and briefly led one of my sporting heroes, Lance Armstrong. I definitely posted about the experience on Facebook and Twitter (even though I don’t tweet often):

Knowing that I ran several miles of the race with Lance, I spent hours scouring the internet trying to find a photo of me running with him.  I had purchased the official race photos but I really wanted to find one of Lance and I. It took a lot of searching, there are a lot of photos of Lance on the internet, but I finally found one!
Lance was the focal point of the photo, but hidden behind Lance, you could see my distinct orange shoes and my blue tank top.  Of course, we all know now, Lance was a lying cheater who used legal intimidation, accusations of a “witchhunt by the French”, and the “I’ve been tested hundreds of times and never failed a drug test” line, to avoid being labeled a cheater for many years despite rumors and suspicion of his drug use.
I learned about Michael Rossi the same way many people did, the “viral open letter” he wrote.  Mike Rossi ran the 2015 Boston Marathon and took his two young school aged children and wife with him, making a family vacation out of the experience. Shortly after, Mike received a standard letter from his children’s principal informing him that this trip would count as an unexcused absence against his kids. Mike promptly wrote an “open letter” to the principal and published it on his Facebook page and various other social media outlets, but he never actually mailed it to the principal. The open letter was scathing and it quickly went viral. I must admit, on first blush, the letter struck a nerve with me as I tend to react negatively to the ever encroaching arm of government into family matters. I promptly forgot about the whole deal until I happened to see a thread on letsrun.com – “Did Mike Rossi (viral marathon dad) cheat his way into Boston?”

As it turns out, the “educational experience” that Mike Rossi had taken his two children on was achieved through an act of cheating; Mike Rossi never ran a Boston Qualifying marathon time! How do we know that?
1.    Lack of physiological ability – He did not have the physiological ability to run a 3:11 marathon when he supposedly ran one
2.    Lack of publicity – He didn’t publicize his PR/Boston BQ on social media like he would have if it were legit
3.    Lack of photos – There is not a single photo of him on the race course besides the finish, yet every other runner in the marathon was photographed multiple times
Letsrun.com has written an excellent article that thoroughly covers all of these points. However, pulling a page out of Lance Armstrong’s playbook, Mike Rossi apparently lawyered up threatening Letsrun.com with a defamation lawsuit so their well written article has remained unpublished behind the password “rossi” on their website.
When I ran my PR in Austin, I tweeted about it, I let everyone know and it was only a 10 second PR. Mike Rossi at the age of 47 supposedly ran his first marathon in a time of 3:11:45, qualifying for Boston in the process. His half marathon PR at the time was 1:40:44, so he ran back to back half marathon PRs of 1:35:52, yet he remained silent on social media, even after he had posted this to his social media several days before the marathon:

That's because he didn't actually run a 3:11:45, it didn’t happen, he cheated! He was quite about it because he didn't want to draw attention to his unbelievable time before he had actually gotten into and run the Boston Marathon.
Following my half marathon PR, there were a bunch of official race photos of me. In addition to the official photos, I found the photo of Lance and I from on the course. At the 2014 Via Marathon, thousands of official photos were taken. Additionally, thousands of photos can be found online at various news outlets, but not a single photo of Mike Rossi exists from the Via Marathon course (besides the finish) because he didn’t run the marathon, he is a marathon cheat!
The whole Mike Rossi saga has unfolded through various news articles, but the primary and continuing story is taking place on a letsrun.com message board thread I mentioned before which can be found here: http://www.letsrun.com/forum/flat_read.php?thread=6479539&page=0 It is by far the longest thread on letsrun, should be topping 10,000 posts soon! I came across this thread fairly early on and followed it with interest as various runners crowd sourced the daunting task of looking through all the official race photos and identifying runners. While I was convinced fairly early on based upon the physiological aspect that Mike Rossi is a cheater, the photographic evidence was conclusive. I was fully convinced and thought a DQ of Rossi’s time by the race director of Lehigh Valley Via Marathon was a no-brainer. When the DQ didn’t happen, I (along with many others) was surprised and quite frankly disgusted.
I was already open with my belief that Rossi had cheated and was not being anonymous on letsrun.com, using the registered username – triathleteguru. When a runner on the forum had difficulty converting an animated gif to video so it could be uploaded to Youtube, I stepped in and helped converting the gif to video and uploading it to Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxKfEiOfGmY

The following day, Mike Rossi tweeted this:
followed by this (after a few unrelated tweets):
An 06' photo of me following a near death collision with a van in a triathlon
I am fairly certain he’s the one who posted this on the letsrun forum as well:

Taken as a whole, all of these are intimidation attempts, possibly even death threats. The threats and intimidation tactics go well beyond what has been directed at me. Several other regular posters on the Rossi thread have received direct communication from Mike Rossi that are veiled threats and even the children of some of his skeptics have been targeted. So much for “Father of the year”!
Do all cheaters, when confronted with evidence they cheated resort to threats and intimidation tactics? Those of you who know me well know that I was very vocal, you might say obsessive with Lance Armstrong and his cheating. I spent years as a fan of Lance, had books, videos, and posters, I still find myself googling his name occasionally and catching up on the latest Lance news.  He tried to threaten and intimidate his critics, how did that work for him? In the end, Lance was exposed for the cheat he was.
Mike, do you think you’re better than Lance?  It is obvious to me and anyone with half a brain you cheated. I understand lots of people cheat. The desire for attention, fame, glory, money, these are all motivating factors. With Lance, he was a great athlete who cheated to become even greater. I still consider it an honor to have led him in a race. Mike, you are an average runner who cheated your way to running Boston, but you remain an average runner, running a “scintillating” 4:01 at Boston. I don’t take kindly to your threats and intimidation tactics. You can become better, I have no doubt you could train and run a legitimate BQ time. You can also become a better person by admitting to your cheating, stop living a lie. I have nothing against you personally; I just can’t stand the threatening, lying, and cheating!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What kept me from training/racing the past year and a half...

I've never really had back problems, definitely never missed training or racing because of a bad back. But on Friday the 13th of 2013 I slipped and fell on ice. The following day I was registered to do a trail race, the epic 7 mile Pere Marquette Trail race. Leslie and I drove up the night before to her grandma's house and I slept on the floor of Leslie's old bedroom. The following morning, my lower back was hurting and I just assumed it was from sleeping on the floor, didn't think much of it. But over the following several weeks, as I continued to train and run, the back pain continued and got worse, growing into pain radiating down my left butt cheek and my left sciatic nerve.

It took a long time, many doctor visits, x-rays, epidurals, and MRI's to finally get a definitive diagnosis - bulging/herniation of the L4 and L5 discs in my back. Along the way, I learned I also have osteoarthritis in my left hip, most likely resulting from the 2006 triathlon where I was hit by a van. According to several experts, I should be running on my hip, which is why I will be doing more trail running and shorter/faster quality running workouts.

MRI from June of 2014
MRI January of 2015

This evening I rode my mountain bike hard for an hour on some challenging/technical single track and am sitting at my desk typing on my computer, something I couldn't really do a year ago! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Getting back at this...

Last time I posted on this blog was in August of 2012, so much has happened since then! I think it was shortly after my last post that I started dating Leslie Goelz and in November of 2013 we got married. In December of 2013 I ended up with several bulging discs in my back which kept me from training/racing through all of 2014 and it has only been in the past few weeks that I've started planning a come back to training and racing. With this in mind, I decided to resurrect my blog and website!

I had actually noticed a while back that the home page on my website www.triathleteguru.com was broken, I had some code that automatically loaded the RSS feed from this BlogSpot page as clickable links/stories. Since this code was broken and I was at a loss on fixing it, I decided to abandon my custom PHP coded website I had created and instead install a Wordpress based website. I've gotten the bulk of the work done with that project, still need to clean the site up though. Look for new/fresh content soon!

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Thoughts on Lance Armstrong...

Lance Armstrong is a name which used to be synonymous with hope and courage, the guy who beat cancer and went on to dominate the toughest (and formerly unknown) sporting event in the world, the Tour de France.  His name is now well on the way to becoming synonymous with cheat and it will be forever tied to one of the greatest sports cheating scheme in history.  Not surprisingly, when someone has become such a heroic figure in the eyes of many, there are those who refuse to accept that Lance could have perpetrated such a magnificent fraud. It has, in a sense become a cult of Lance where his followers have and will continue to drink his cool aid.

Lance Armstrong is the only professional cyclist in modern history to become an American icon, to break out of the obscurity of cycling and cross over into popular culture. If I were to mention the name Greg Lemond, some would say they recognize the name, but few could tell you he was the first American to win the Tour de France or that he too came back from a near death experience to win France’s prestigious race. Mention Lance Armstrong however, and suddenly the Tour de France becomes the realm of everyday Americans. It is probably no coincidence that passions become so involved because Lance’s victories coincided with a period of time that French fries became freedom fries.  An American secured victory in Paris and with those victories, he not only secured his place in sports, he secured his spot as an American hero, at least for the time. Combine the patriots with the hearts of millions of cancer survivors as his story inspired hope in them, if he could beat cancer and return strong enough to defeat the toughest race in the world, perhaps they too could beat cancer! It is all these new fans that Lance has hoodwinked with his tired mantra of “I am the most tested athlete ever and I have never failed a drug test”; they form the body of the cult of Armstrong.

This is the biggest fallacy of the cult and the favorite thing Lance likes to say is “I have never failed a drug test”. Fact of the matter is that Lance Armstrong has indeed failed at least one drug test and only after the fact produced a doctor’s prescription. Additionally, there remain the accusations of at least one failed test covered up by the UCI, as well as evidence uncovered that linked EPO tainted blood to Lance Armstrong.  Anyone who has followed the news and recent history of drug cheats would know that the lack of a positive drug test only means they weren’t smart enough to not get caught. Marion Jones, Barry Bonds, Jan Ulrich, many athletes never failed a drug test and yet were found guilty of doping.  However, all this is easily negated in the minds of the cult with two words, “French conspiracy”. 

Despite the hundreds of passed tests that Armstrong claims in his palmar├Ęs, the reported evidence that has been accumulated by the USADA is astounding.  At least ten eye witness accounts to doping or admissions of doping by Lance Armstrong. Now if you’re a member of the cult of Armstrong, you’ll first dismiss this by pointing out that the two most notorious of these witnesses, Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton are admitted dopers and lied about their doping for years. What they overlook is this; Floyd and Tyler began lying (as did Lance Armstrong) the moment they first began using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to race. However, until the point they were under oath, there was no legal jeopardy to this deception. Sure they could be busted for doping and both were, but cheating in sports is nothing when compared to doing time in the slammer.   Then there are those reported ready to testify against Lance who haven’t been busted for doping. Riders like George Hincapie, one of the most respected members of the peloton and Lance Armstrong’s right hand man throughout his seven TDF wins. These witness accounts are the crux of USADA’s case against Lance Armstrong.

One of the biggest complaints I hear is “this all happened in the past, let’s move on” or “he wasn’t caught back then, how can they go after him now”.  But the fact of the matter is that USADA was given a pile of evidence and really had no option but to look into it. When presented with such damning evidence of one of the greatest doping frauds in American sports history, for them to ignore this would be a major failure in their duty.

I became a fan of cycling in 1988 and have followed the Tour de France and professional cycling since. I was fifteen when Greg Lemond stormed down the Champs Elysees to win the Tour by eight seconds. When Lance broke into the cycling world in the 90’s and began dominating; I quickly became a fan of his and was devastated when he was diagnosed with cancer.  He was a hero to me and soon a hero to millions worldwide.  This is probably why it bugs me so much to hear people and their defense of Lance. I knew who he was and was a fan, long before probably 99% of his current defenders are. I’ve followed his story since the early 90’s, have coffee table books on Lance, every TDF on DVD or video since 86’, and have TDF posters in my office and house. Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but most people currently defending him are misguided and are basing their defense of Lance on his talking points, they’ve unfortunately drunk the cool aid…

If you disagree with me, but have made it this far, I challenge you to read the information at the following link with an objective mind. It is the most powerful and through article I’ve read on the subject.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

8 Seconds in July: My Max-O-Mania 2012 race report

To most people, the phrase "8 seconds in July" probably has no clear significance. To me however, it brings back memories of an epic battle in the 1989 Tour de France between Laurent Fignon and Greg Lemond. For three long weeks Lemond and Fignon battled it out for the right to wear the yellow jersey and on the final day Lemond overcame a 50 second deficit in a short 15.5 mile time trial to win the Tour by eight seconds! This past weekend I got to experience my own "8 Seconds in July" moment, only the stakes weren't quite as high...

Max-O-Mania is a series of three races in two days held at the resort of Innsbrook. For those who don't know, Innsbrook is a community of vacation homes with more than 100 lakes, 8,000 acres, and plenty of steep hills to run and bike up! It is a challenging but beautiful place to race. 

First up on the agenda, the "Prologue", an evening race on Friday consisting of a 1,000 meter swim across a lake followed by a 3 mile run back to the finish line. Following pre-race instructions from Mark Livesay with Ultramax Sports, all the solo athletes along with one team member (teams did it relay style) from each team lined up in the starting chute. While my goal is always to do as well as I can, sometimes there are specific people I want to do well against and in this case my friend Brian Rodenbeck was my target! Brian has been improving steadily and had recently beaten me at both the KC Triathlon and the Trizou triathlon; I was really hoping to reverse that trend... 

Shortly after the race started, I found some feet to draft which was awesome. Despite the draft, the swim still seemed to take forever, but finally after 18:04 I was done and into transition. I tried to settle into a fast pace as I could see Brian ahead of me. It wasn't too long before I passed him, but I ended up paying for the early fast pace and slowing to walk up some of the tough hills. Eventually I recovered sufficiently and ended up with the fourth fastest run which only partially made up for having been fourteenth on the swim! 

Aquathon Results
1. Louis Di Guiseppe 32:20 
2. Andrew Person     32:27 
3. Lou Jearls             35:37 
4. Dave Otto            36:37 
5. Peter Thurman      37:07 
6. Tony Rigdon        37:23 
7. Brian Rodenbeck 38:06 

Day 2 began with Quartermax. This was the "centerpiece" event of the weekend and brought in 4 or 5 hundred triathletes who were only competing in it (or Octomax) and not Max-O-Mania. It consists of a 1,000 yard swim, 24 mile bike, and a 6 mile run. So once again my race was starting with a 1,000 yard swim! Having given up a considerable amount of time to several in the swim the night before, I figured the morning race would bring more of the same. On the plus side, I hadn't been too far behind Brian on the previous swim so I was really hoping I could once again keep things close and then not give up too much time on the bike. Surprisingly, as I was finishing the swim, I noticed Brian off to my right and ended up finishing several seconds ahead. He quickly passed me on the hill to transition but I just barely managed to get out on my bike ahead of him. 

Once out on the bike, it wasn't long before he passed me again, this time for good. Not too long after, Eric Johnson and Jason Holland (racing as a team) passed me and were soon up to and ahead of Brian. For most of the hilly five mile stretch within Innsbrook I managed to keep the three in my sights, but they were gradually pulling away. Eventually, once out on the flat sections outside the resort, some of the faster general Quartermax competitors began to catch me. Each time a triathlete would pass me, I would use them as a carrot to pick up my pace and keep them in my sight for as long as possible, hoping to limit my losses to Brian and other Max-O-Mania competitors. Ironically, the cycling section used to be my strongest facet, not so anymore... 

Finally the cycling was done and after a quick transition, I was out on the run. My plan was to run controlled for the first loop of the course and then pick it up on the second and final loop. However, things don't always work according to plans and when I tried to pick up the pace my legs just didn't want to respond! Even after seeing Brian just prior to the turn around, I still could not convince my legs to go any faster. I was at least several minutes down and I was now thinking about damage control and not losing more time on the run. Sunny Gilbert, the eventual women's Quartermax Champion caught me shortly after the start of the second loop. In previous triathlons I've found myself in the same position and have been able to match her pace and run with her for at least several miles, but not this time! About the only time I managed to pick things up was when I saw Eric Johnson and Jason Holland ahead. Using them as motivation I recovered slightly and had a decent final mile or two. In the end I finished 25th and 6th in my age group in Quartermax, but more importantly, I had lost considerable amounts of time in the Max-O-Mania results and overall standings... 

Quartermax Results               Total time 
1 Louis Di G..         2:15:23      1 Louis Di G...        2:47:43 
2 Brian Rodenbeck 2:18:04      2 Dave Otto            2:54:41 
3 Dave Otto            2:18:04     3 Peter Thurman     2:56:00 
4 Peter Thurman     2:18:53      4 Brian Rodenbeck 2:56:10 
5 Tony Rigdon III    2:20:42     5 Tony Rigdon III   2:58:05 

Heading into the final race Saturday evening, I knew I had my work cut out for me if I had any hope of catching Brian as I was a minute and fifty-five seconds behind him and he had beaten me so handily that morning. Dave Otto had also been listed throughout the events as being in the male open or under 40 division, but the thought of catching him seemed out of the question so I really only focused on Brian and the idea of moving up to second in the male open division and 4th overall. I spent a large portion of the morning and afternoon refueling, relaxing, and sleeping. 

The final race was a 10 mile bike, 500 yard swim, and a 2 mile run. The race started with the solo competitors so we were lined up in ascending order starting with Louis Di Guiseppe, who had such a comfortable lead this race was a mere formality. The first ten competitors were started every minute so I was starting five minutes behind Louis but more importantly exactly one minute behind Brian. 

Five minutes later, it was my turn and I was off! The 10 mile course was an out and back over the hilly roads leading to the edge of the resort. These were the same roads we had raced out on in the morning, only this time I kept reminding myself to dig deep and push. I’m sure I reviewed in my mind just about every positioning and pedaling knowledge I've read as I mustered up all the speed I could. Still, despite the effort I was putting in, I was a little surprised when I started approaching the turnaround point and hadn't seen a returning cyclist! Finally, Louis came by but I wasn't quite sure if I had made time up or not, though I was pretty sure I wasn't losing time. It wasn't until the final climb to the turn around that Brian came back and I immediately began counting until I too had reached the spot, 45", I had gained 15" in the first half! They say success breeds success and in this case I believe it did as I found additional motivation to push hard. I kept hoping to pull someone to within sight, but the roads were too curvy. However, as I dismounted and ran into transition, I could see several people running down the hill to the swim, I was catching them! 

Quick, rack my bike, grab my goggles and swim cap. Everything in transition should be thought out ahead and executed smoothly. If you can, do everything while moving and as I sprinted down the hill my swim cap and goggles were going on. As I approached the beach, Mark Livesay the race director could tell I was making up time and with his announcing the spectators got behind me and I was hit with more motivation. A mad dash into the water and I was swimming. 

It felt nice to be back in the water and without a ton of swimmers surrounding me. Instead, every time I sighted, I could see three heads in front of me, slowly getting closer. This was a unique feeling, to actually feel like I was competing in the swim! I consciously told myself to keep a high turnover, it's only 500 yards, push it. It came as a shock to find myself finishing with three swimmers in my wake! I still sprinted up the hill though, out of sight is out of mind, if I could get out on the run well ahead I might maintain the time I had gained. 

Surprisingly, I found one more competitor in transition and was quickly out the door and on the run, pulling ahead of him and into second place in the race, only Louis was still in front. I still wasn't quite sure how much time I had on Brian so I continued to tell myself to fight, it's only two miles, mostly flat, and it will be over quick! Once again Louis came by going the other way and once again I didn't bother trying to figure how far back I was, by bigger concern was how far ahead I was of the other guys and more importantly, of Brian. At the turn around I saw my friends Jessica Gallant and Emmette Smith handing out water and got some more encouragement from them, friends are great! 

The return trip was pretty much a gradual downhill so I felt pretty good about not getting caught, but still felt like I should push it. You never know where you stand in a time trial start, I wanted to make up as much time as I could. Eventually, the finish line was in sight and I could hear Mark on the microphone bringing me in. From the way he was talking, it sounded like I had a quick time, which only helped to make me quicker! Also, Louis Di Guiseppe was in the finish chute cheering me on to a strong finish. 

The finish line and I'm done, all that remained was to see how much time passed before the others crossed. Mark wouldn't reveal the results until everyone had finished. All he would say was that I had the fastest time in the final race by over two minutes with a 50:08. I could tell though from his hints that I had moved up a few spots, but had no idea how far. Eventually it was awards time and I learned I had gone from 5th to 2nd overall! 

 Final Total time
 1 Louis Di Guiseppe     3:39:59 
2 Tony Rigdon III          3:48:15 
3 Dave Otto                  3:48:23 
4 Brian Rodenbeck        3:49:46 
5 Peter Thurman            3:49:56 

 I had edged out Dave Otto by 8 seconds! My 8 Seconds in July June... 

What a race! It is definitely easy to say that having ended it on such a high note. However, even had I not done so well in the final event, overall I had a great time even in the two previous races where I didn't do quite so well. It was a smaller more intimate event in the sense that we all knew each other by the end, even if we hadn't when we started. I'm definitely planning on returning next year! Only I will be swimming and biking a little faster...