Two years ago, Mike and I raced in the SkinnyMan sprint triathlon (our second triathlon ever) and we later noticed that they had an entire race weekend. In addition to the triathlon, they put on a swim event, bike event (discontinued this year) and run event.
This was the 10th year of the race weekend, and it was the last. After 10 great years they decided to discontinue the races.
I had a yearly goal of participating in a swim-only event and I knew that this race might be our only chance, but with race date only a week after our Ironman I didn't know if it would be a good idea. Finding out that it was the last year to participate solidified that we were going to try, and worst case we would just float in our wetsuits and use our arms!
Mike and I picked up our race packets on Friday on the way to Mike's parents' house. We spent Saturday at Saratoga Race Track and then drove to our hotel (about a 3 hour drive).
The three of us before the race (I pulled a Mike, and tried to put my wetsuit on with my shorts still on)
The swim event started at 8am, but we woke up at 6am so that we could park and get to Clift Park in time to pick up our timing chips. Our friend, Greg, was also racing and we found him a little while after we had arrived.
On Friday when we picked up our stuff we found out that we were not going to be on the Judge. A unique part of this race is boarding the "Judge Ben Wiles", a boat, and arriving to the deep water swim start that way. Only 100 participants can board the boat, for safety reasons, and the rest of the participants board buses to a local country club in Skaneateles.
We weren't really happy that we weren't going to get to board the boat, but we knew it would still be a fun race. Luckily, on race morning the announcer said that if there was room left after all the original participants with a "JB" (Judge Ben) on their wristband had boarded, other participants could board the boat to capacity on a first come, first served basis.
We're on there somewhere
Greg went over to the sidelines near the boat and Mike and I joined him, we figured why not try! After only 65ish people got on, we moved to the front and all three of us got on! You don't get to start from the boat, but it was still a fun ride out to the start location.
Once we got to the start location, everyone on the boat jumped off. The water temperature was good and we were able to wear wetsuits. Mike and I swam to the start and positioned ourselves in the front. We chatted with another guy before the start and then it was time to swim!
Since it was only a 1-mile swim, we knew it was going to be a bit of a sprint. I had a goal of placing, I wanted overall but would have been happy with in my age group, so if I felt good I was going to push it. This was only our second workout after our Ironman (we rode 15 miles on Thursday), so I wasn't sure how it was going to go.
Waiting to start
After the horn sounded from the Judge, we were off! It was raining and windy, but luckily the current was with us for most of the race. The start, for about 2-3 minutes, was a bit congested. It took me a little while to find a position but then I had clear water. I just kept the buoys to my right and tried to get as close to them as possible (but the wind kept pushing me away from them!)
I knew I wasn't in the front but I could tell that not many people were around me. One guy was swimming near me almost the entire race but because of the waves and buoys to the right, I kept breathing mostly to the right. Half way came, indicated by a yellow buoy, and then I just tried to get to the 3/4 mark indicated by a turn in the course.
It felt like it took forever to get to that point, but then I went by it. There was a boat blocking people from cutting the corner and then the conditions got worse. The chop was stronger in this section and at one point I said out loud (probably underwater), "alright already". I knew there wasn't much left, I hadn't looked at my watch at all, and eventually I could see the stairs with volunteers.
You can tell we're triathletes, caps off!
Happy about a successful swim
I got to the end of the water and grabbed the railing at the stairs. Everything was really slippery so I was careful not to slip on my way out (some people fell) and then I ran toward the finish line. I saw Mike on the sidelines and I crossed the finish line!
I could see some women had already finished and Mike told me he thought he was in the top 25 and that I was in the top 40. We cheered our friend, Greg, on as he crushed his swim and then we went to look for the results.
I had finished in 26:21 and Mike had finished in 24:23, not bad considering the conditions! Mike was 13th overall, 9th male and 1st in his age group and I was 34th overall, 13th female and 1st in my age group!
Cheese-face, as Mike calls it
Sweeping the top of the 25-29 age group!
We watched the final participant cross the finish line and then waited for the awards ceremony. We finished race morning with some breakfast and then went home.
Overall, it was a great experience and I'm sad that they are discontinuing race weekend in Skaneateles!