Everyone should do the Los Angeles Triathlon at least once to experience an inner-city triathlon. The race presents a stark contrast to the Santa Barbara Long Course venue due to the path the race takes from a "real" ocean swim at Venice Beach to the depths of downtown Los Angeles. The bike course is closed to vehicular traffic, but note, not closed to foot traffic. Hence, the bike presents the best opportunity to experience Los Angeles local color. Since the bike course is closed to traffic, the local residents seem to use this opportunity to get to know each other better, since they no longer must risk their lives crossing streets and they can now gaze at the Los Angeles skyline in disbelief of their pedestrian freedom. The bike ride is one great olfactory experience of Los Angeles, each part of the city retains its own distinct aroma. The bike course finishes in great style by offering some of the best graffiti on the planet plastered throughout the approach to the downtown transition area. The run course is challenging and presents a few long hills, which detract from your ability to view the surroundings. Once finished with the race, if you are not fortunate to have a race support crew, it is time to climb on a bus, with your bike, and head back to Venice Beach, where you started the race. The bus ride provides a new, different view of the city.
I have done this race twice in the past and decided to skip this year, however Fred Maggiore stepped up to the plate and took the LA challenge, Jack Bianchi has also done the race in past years. Fred had the likes of Chuck Sperazza, who placed 15th overall in Santa Barbara this year, to deal with in the 50 to 54 race group. Chuck is a tough challenge, hence Fred was in there with the best. See results following this text. This race always draws the top Olympic distance pros and this year Greg Bennet and Becky Lavelle took top honors in times of 1:46.04 and 1:59:46 respectively. VB
Top Ten Male 50-54
The Los Angeles Triathlon, a real-time report by Fred Maggiore:
Cherry picking (cher`e pik`in) – 1) The act of selecting a small fruit from a tree or shrub, 2) selecting a race where the “known” competitors times look easy to beat.
Since I was going to be out of town for the usual season ending triathlon in Carpinteria, I opted for the LA Tri, one I haven’t done before. Several local athletes said I’d enjoy the ride through downtown LA, and that the run was challenging, with a big hill, but that it can get very hot.
It didn’t hurt that the winning times in my age group the past few years looked “soft”, and that just prior to race day the top six finishers from last year were not signed up. Of course there is always the specter of the unknown competitors, guys you don’t know who are fast.
Overcast and cool on race morning, with a small to medium swell kicking up at Venice beach, my wave, the last wave in the Olympic distance tri, the old men, headed into the surf. In classic ocean water swimming style, the buoys were set far apart and hard to see in the swell, so I just followed the pack, just behind a smaller group that had made their break. Instead of catching a wave to ride in at the finish, I got tumbled in the surf, diving down too late to avoid it, how rude.
Heading out on the bike it was a tour of LA like I’ve never seen, at 21MPH, with no cross traffic. With handfuls of curious spectators lining the course, it was over to the Staples Center to T2 and the start of the run as the temperature climbed into the 80’s. I got my first look at the hill on the run as I flew down it on the bike, passing people on their brakes, hoping to avoid the potholes and seams in the pavement.
The hill isn’t that long, about four blocks, but with one very steep block; after two laps on the run I managed to come in with a time just about what I hoped for. Two guys passed me on the bike, one in my age group, and no one on the run, so my hopes for a top spot looked good.
They never posted the results for the old mans category prior to the awards ceremony, so during the ceremony I found out exactly just how far ahead the guy that passed me on the bike was, four minutes, and that in fact there was another guy, another six minutes ahead of him, out of sight all day.
So even though I went faster than the past winners, meeting my goal time, I had to give it to the two guys that kicked my butt. One of them is a known go fast guy in my AG, from Redondo Beach, who did a 3:01 at the SB Tri this year, racing in the Masters Elite wave, not in my AG wave. The other guy was an unknown, at least up until now, a top duathlete from Philly.
So much for cherry picking a race based on times!