In 2009, a very keen crew from Ottawa journeyed down to Deep Creek, Maryland to compete in Savageman, likely the hardest half ironman distance triathlon in the world. There was a short version of Savageman, called the Savageman 30, held at the same time, but the main event was the long race, called the Savageman 70. The Ottawa colors flew high and proudly in 2009 and we all wanted to go back and do things better to prove it was not a fluke.
Returning this year were Olivier “The Original” Mouyau, James "The Tasmanian Devil" Young, Tom "The Ageless One" McGee, Rob "Diesel Engine" McCulloch and I.
In 2010, though, we brought in some reinforcements to increase our impact. George “The Machine” Reid, Lu Lu Len Ireland, Heather “H-Dogg” Ireland, Brenda “Boatway” Oatway, Dr Greg “Litterbug” Moore, Marc “The Narc” Pelletier, Stephen “Mountain Goat” Cann, Geoffrey “Storyteller” Prud’Homme. It was an impressive, if not motley crew, to say the least.
This year, the Race Director separated the two races to different days so crazy people could do them both. He called it simply The 100. A few of us rationalized that if we were going to drive 11 hours, each way, we may as well get the most racing done for our driving mileage, so we signed up.
The race is called Savageman for a few reasons. The first reason is because it takes place in part in the Savage River State Forest and goes over Savage Mountain. Because of these two reasons, many things are called Savage in this area, which is in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains in Western Maryland. Another reason is because Savageman truly does give your mind’s eye an idea of what to expect your body and mind to go through in order to cross the finish line. It could justifiably have been called Brutalman, WesterportWallman, KillerMillerman, MaynardierRidgeman or even StupidHardHalfIronmanman. All would be appropriate, but Race Director Kyle wanted to get his point across and called it Savageman.
The venue is amazing. That’s all I can say without getting poetic and misty eyed, so I won’t say more.
Most of us rented a house on Deep Creek Lake, the venue for the race. It served as a home base for everyone to park, hot tub, swim, drink, and meet. It was also right at the first turnaround for both of the swims.
On Friday, we took care of course tours, kit pick up, bike check etc, etc.
On Saturday, with a very relaxed and reasonable race start time of 9:30, we woke up and did our thing at the house, then meandered the kilometer to the race site. We all got set up, gave the customary hugs and were down to the beach.
H-Dogg was in the first wave, Greg was in the 3rd wave, and I was in the 4th and last wave. They were 7min apart.
I tore my Nineteen wetsuit while putting it on. It’s 4 years old and has served me very well, but I was not expecting that. Len had some duct tape and with a rip, rip here and a slap on, slap on there, (sung to the tune of Oh MacDonald Had a Farm), I was good to go.
At 9:30, Heather was off. 14min later, Greg was gone and 7min after that, so was I. The start was fast and furious, but the waves were small and everything was good for me. Some of the guys who were not racing were sitting on the inflatable turtle that is the turnaround.
I swam hard but two guys just disappeared off the front. I had no choice, but I mentally let them go and swam at my speed in a very detached 3rd spot. I exited the water in 19:35. McGee informed me I was 2min behind.
“Huh? 2min down? Wow, thems some fish up front.” It turns out, Brian Benda was first out of the water in my wave. He had the fastest swim at IMUSA this year. I was less disheartened after learning his pedigree. In the earlier waves, no one swam faster than he, but pro triathlete Lars Finanger was close.
In terms of course profile, the 40k ride would be similar to a roller coaster ride at Canada’s Wonderland—steep ups and downs with lots of twisting and turning. The faster you go, the easier it is because your momentum from the downhill gets you further up the next hill.
I got on the Trek TTX and started pedaling kinda hard. Like Montreal the week before, my legs were there right away. I rode quite steadily, or as steadily as you can on a twisty, winding and hilly bike course. It’s a beautiful ride that I would love to do with more time on my hands. I passed a tonne of people, one of whom was Brian Benda and eventually, Heather. It took me a long time to reel her in. She was having one of her traditional great days. We rode together for half a second or so, said hi and then I continued on.
I finished the ride feeling great. I looked at my Polar monitor, mentally noting a ride time under 1:02. This was very satisfying. I lashed on my Mizuno Musha’s and ran comfortably hard, trying not to get caught up in the racing side of things, since I did have the main course the next day to contend with.
The profile of the run course would be like taking the inner loop of Gatineau Park and compressing all the hills into 10k, with a bit of trail running thrown in for good measure. There are two points that serve as out and back sections, and another that goes out, does a loop, and then comes back. On one of the out and back sections, I saw the lead cyclist for the female competitors.
And who was it leading you ask? H-Dogg!! It seems that on the road, she was the first woman. There were other women faster but they started in the waves behind, so for all intents and purposes, she was it—lead woman. How cool is that?
I continued to run comfortably and crossed the line ready for the next day. I was second overall, thanks to my ride. Greg was 7 th overall and Heather was 6th female and Grand Master Champion. Lars was the fastest male on the day, 3min ahead of my time of 2:05. Super cyclist Lynne Bessette was the fastest woman, and she’s Canadian too, so it’s okay.
Part 2 coming soon...