The swim was the defining discipline of the race. It took place in the Des Moines River right in downtown. We swam 3 laps around 4 bouys in a 2-3 knot current by my estimation, which is strong. You're hardly going anywhere swimming into the current. Spectators can watch the entire swim from shore or from above on two bridges. All the bridges and shore were packed with spectators. Everyone wanted to see how 30 of us were going to make it around this tight course. I'm sure is was fun to watch. I watched the women's race 3 hours earlier and it looked like a roller derby. Our was more like a cage match for the first lap. If you weren't getting smack in the face, someone was pulling your leg or you were getting catch on the anchor rope for the buoy. I spent a good 5 seconds underwater trying to free myself one lap. After the race, Andy Potts, Matt Reed, Rasmus Henning, Macca, and I all were showing of our wounds from the swim.
As for my race, I wasn't happy with my swim, but I was happy to have survived in better than a few others. In a normal swim, the gap to the leaders is smaller. Fighting with each other at 12 buoys and the river slows the weaker swimmer even more. However, I did have a good first lap on the swim. To add even more spice to the event, there were eleven $5150 primes for each lap of the race: 3 laps swim course, 4 lap bike course, 4 lap run course. So, a good swimmer could make out like a bandit. Josh Amberger took all 3 swim primes. Ben Collins (a good swimmer) came out near the front and then hammered the bike to take all 4 bike primes and the first run prime for a total of $25,750. Then, Ben just focused on finishing the race so he could collect his bounty.
After the swim, I had to ride as hard to make up time. The technical nature of the course also played to my strength, but not enough to totally make up for my poor swim. The hills, turns, and wind on the bike course helped break up the athletes on the bike, so it was truly a non-drafting race as advertised. On the bike, I move up into 10th and started running well out of T2. I past Ben Collins, Fraser Cartmell, Bertrand Billard, and Matt Reed. I also held off Kris Gemmel for 2 laps and Filip Ospaly for 3.5 laps.
If you're a triathlete from Minnesota, I would make plans to go down to Des Moines to race and spectate next year. The amatuer race was great too. Hannah and I went out to cheer age groupers Sunday morning and were impressed with the course and race in general. If you can't qualify for the 5150 Amatuer Championship, you can still do the regular age group race.
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