Registration for SOS took place at midnight on November 1st last year, and Mike, our two friends, Greg and Beth, and I all got in. The general registration sold out in 4 minutes! (They do the rest of the 50 spots via lottery or you can get in through a charity spot).
SOS has eight stages: 30 mile bike, 4.5 mile run, 1.1 mile swim, 5.5 mile run, .5 mile swim, 8 mile run, .5 mile swim and a .7 mile run. It is unique, not only because of that, but also because you need a Sherpa to take all of your bike stuff and help you with your run/swim stuff before you continue on with your day.
After some Sherpa hiccups, the four of us ended up with three amazing Sherpas who truly made our weekend race experience. Danielle, Kirsten and Mort were amazing and took care of us all weekend, not just at the race! We really can't thank them enough.
Our amazing Sherpas! Photo courtesy of Beth
The seven of us stayed in an Airbnb house together, which also made the weekend. It was fun hanging out and relaxing together before Sunday's race.
Mike went into the race unsure about whether he was going to be able to race, let alone finish. Two weeks ago he sprained his ankle during a trail run and after taking almost two full weeks off (with only one swim, one ride and a failed attempt at a run only 4 days before the race), I didn't know what was going to happen. Thankfully, our 2 mile shakeout run on Saturday went well and he went into the race a little bit more confident that he could at least attempt to race.
Sunday morning we all woke up, took care of things for our house rental and packed up the cars. We were out and on the road by 5:35am. We had to drop one of our cars so that our Sherpas only had two cars to deal with during the race. After that we made our way to the start at the Ulster County Fair Grounds.
With Beth and Danielle, photo courtesy of Beth
People were already arriving when we got there and after checking in, getting body marked and getting our bike stuff ready, it was almost time to race! SOS starts with multiple bike waves in order to reduce congestion during a bike start. Mike was in the first wave, Greg was in the fourth wave, I was in the sixth wave and Beth was in the seventh wave.
Mike is ready to go! Photo courtesy of Mort
I look tired, photo courtesy of Mort
Thankfully the weather turned out better than expected! The roads were wet from rain over night and the skies were still dark, but it wasn't raining at all (some drizzling here and there).
After going to the bathroom, we heard that it was 10 minutes until the start! We all had to go line up with our respective waves, and after a kiss, Mike and I wished each other luck. I knew I wouldn't see him or Greg the rest of the race. I joked with Beth that I would see her in three minutes after my wave took off!
Mike's wave took off and then each wave after that was sent a minute apart. Finally, it was my wave's turn. I was in the middle of the pack and when it was time to go I took off and settled in.
I could tell I was further back in my wave, if not last, but I tried not to let that bother me. I know cycling is my weakest sport and I also thought people were going really fast! I averaged around 18mph the first 10 miles and everyone else was flying by me!
About 5 minutes in to my ride, Beth went by me. I told her she was late and she went on her way. I didn't see her again the rest of the race. Pretty soon the rest of her wave started to pass me.
The first 10 miles were pretty uneventful. The route was flat at this point and I enjoyed some of the scenery, especially riding by some sunflowers! More people in the later waves passed me, and I will admit it is a bit frustrating but I just banked on passing most of them on the runs and swims later.
Around 10 miles there was one section that was a bit scary. We had driven the course on Saturday so we already knew about it, and they warned us about it during the pre-race meeting, but it was still nerve-wracking! The section was downhill with some sharp turns, but thankfully it wasn't pouring out! There were volunteers holding signs that said, "SLOW", and I made sure to not ride in aero down this section. Also, no one was near me at this point so I didn't have to worry about any other riders.
There was a woman right in front of me the rest of the ride, but I couldn't catch her. I did keep her in my sights, though! The next 15 miles were all rolling, with one significant climb. I was still doing pretty well with my overall MPH, but I knew I was going to slow down the last 5 miles.
I went by a guy who had a flat around 20 miles, I saw two people during the bike leg with flats!
A woman passed by with with only a couple miles until the final turn on the bike leg. We made our way down the road and saw a cop car in the distance indicating the left-hand turn. I knew this part was going to be difficult, about 1,000 feet of elevation gain over the next 5 miles, but I just tried to get up the climb as quickly as possible!
I kept switching places with the woman who had passed me out on the main road, she would go by me when we weren't climbing (luckily there were a few places that provided some relief from the climb). I was able to pass a few other people on the climbs as well. One thing I noticed during this part of the bike leg was how much water was running along the side of the road! I guess it had rained a lot the night before!
The views were incredible, there was one scenic overlook and I tried to take it all in before continuing on to finish up the bike leg. Eventually, I rode by two volunteers radioing in our race numbers. I knew that meant the transition area was coming up!
After a little bit more climbing, there it was! I saw the transition area. I dismounted my bike and looked for our Sherpas.
And since, technically, the transition is part of my first run leg's time, you'll just have to wait to find out how the rest went!
Bike Leg (30 miles) - Jamie: 2:03:05 (14.6 MPH), Mike: 1:46:48 (16.9 MPH)