2016 Zoot Westchester Olympic Triathlon
It was a cold and chilly morning with 49 degree temperature at the start. I put the wetsuit on and was still freezing cold. It was dark. Flashlights were flickering in transition as we all hurried to get ready. Long lines for the porta potties, and even body marking. It’s amazing how fast 30 minutes goes by as you’re getting ready. The ground was cold as I took off my flip flops and made the inevitable trek down to the water. I felt the water and was relieved. A warm 70 degrees. For the first time ever in a race, I couldn’t wait to get in the water.
The swim was a run-in start. Tons of fight in the water as swimmers jockeyed for position and began the 0.9 mile swim around at least 9 buoys in 3 different colors. The course was obviously a test of intelligence as well as physical strength, but kept you from getting bored since the threat of getting lost was omnipresent. I just followed the crowd and it worked. Lots of fight in the water, then relative calm until the next wave overtook me, and the pattern repeated itself for each wave thereafter.
The run was pretty. It started out on the boardwalk and wound through the town. Not exactly flat, but not too hilly either. I finally warmed up on the run. Somehow I kept the pace going even though I wanted to walk several times. Depressed, I saw many that I had passed on the bike pass me back on the run. Finally, finally, I saw the turn off for the last two-tenths of a mile. I was gratified and surprised to see a woman in my age group start walking down the chute. Walking! I was thrilled! I could at least beat one person in this race if no one else. So off I sprinted through the finish line. Got my medal, water, caught my breath, and the emotions started pouring over me. In races of this intensity, my first instinct is to cry, because of the sheer pain and suffering of it all. Once that passes, I think WTF! Why do I do this to myself. And then finally, the calm, happiness, and pride of another race completed and in the books. My 6th triathlon this year, people, 6th!!
Post-race, I was so happy to see my friend D walking toward me in transition while I was getting my things packed. I gave him a big hug. I say this so often, but only another athlete can possibly understand the sheer pain and agony that racing demands of you.
I took advantage of the opportunity to pick up the packet the day before the race and drop off the bike. I felt that my bike was secure in transition, and I liked that my spot on the rack had my name on it. Unfortunately, the lines for packet pickup were very long, and the wristband that was secured to my wrist was too tight. It actually left marks on my wrist. The bib was customized with your name, the date of the event, and the distances. While not the flashiest, I was satisfied with it. The packet also came with a Zoot race belt and multi-functional head band.
I received the long-sleeve hoody which was a nice change from the typical unisex t-shirts, but mine did run big. The so-called expo that was part of packet-pickup was non-existent. I did not see a single vendor staffed at the few desolate looking booths that were there. I did see a bike tune-up tent available, though I did not partake in that. To be fair, I did arrive about an hour before closing. However, it was a far drive for me so it was a bit disappointing. For those unable to do packet-pickup the day before, the race allows you to do it on race morning for an extra $20, which is a nice option to have.
As for the website, I greatly appreciated that there were course maps and GPS files available on the website for download. There wasn’t much else, however. Very little detail on the website about the event. No athlete guide and very limited communication. I only received 1 generic email before the event.
On race day, there were signs directing you to “Event Parking” and there was indeed a very large parking lot with enough room for everyone and parking attendants telling you where to go. Make sure to bring a flashlight as it will still be dark while you are getting everything ready. Bonus side of setting up in cold darkenss? A gorgeous sunrise.
Body marking was done with a marker, no tattoos. Extremely long lines for the porta-potties.
0.9 Mile Swim
There were not enough waves to accommodate the large amount of athletes. As a result, each swim wave was crowded and there was a lot of frenetic activity in the water. Additionally, they grouped the waves in seeming random order. For example, my wave contained aquabikers, women 39 and under, and men 60 and over. I was wave 3. It didn’t make sense. I was overtaken by the next 3 waves, which caused a lot of jostling, and I’m sure I was annoying the faster swimmers since they had to overtake me.
The course was atypical, and there should have definitely been some kind of map on the website or at packet pick-up to explain where to go. It wound through various buoys. You just had remember to keep the red-colored buoys on your right shoulder. However, I saw many others not following that rule and in essence, cheating the system intentionally or unintentionally.
The run-in start and the water temperature were fine. Most wore wetsuits. After the swim, the run back to transition was not terrible, but the concrete was pebbled and the ground slippery. It was also up a slight incline.
25 Mile Bike
The course was a big loop with no repeated sections. There were cops at every major intersection. The road condition was pretty poor, however. You definitely had to watch out for pot holes and the like. It was mostly shaded, so the course was cool and out of the sun, however since the day I raced was very cold, it was easy to freeze on the bike. Good mix of rolling hills and climbs, with the occasional flat section thrown in. It’s an open course, so car traffic does make things difficult at time.
The run was a nice course that started with a small out-and-back along the boardwalk and then wound through the streets of Rye, NY. It was mostly flat with the occasional hill or incline. There were water stops on the course. The Gatorade tasted horrible. There were no porta-potties at all on the course. I would have liked to see at least one or two. Finally, my watch calculated the distance at 6.05 miles, so I think the course ran short.
The finisher’s medal was decent size and quality with a decorated ribbon. The date of the event was embedded on it, so you know these were made specifically for this race. You receive a raffle ticket at the finish line too, though I somehow missed getting mine. Hot pizza awaits at the finish festival, along with beer. You can check your results on the computer and even get a print-out. I had enough time to pack up my things, change, and come back for the awards ceremony. All this amid the backdrop of energizing music. The only bad part about the post-race festivities was that the awards ceremony took very long to get started, and dragged on.
Later in the day, results were available online, though you had to do some creative digging to find it. Photos came out 3 days later. At $15 a pop, not the cheapest.
Summary Really fun race with great courses for all 3 disciplines. It was well-organized, with good pre-registration, packet-pickup, and swag. The best part of all, is that the race is a non-profit organization so all the proceeds go to charity. It’s not some unknown dollar amount that gets contributed, but they actually present checks to the different charities during the awards ceremony. I was incredibly touched by the stories from the different speakers.