The website blurb reads – “The Timberman Triathlon Festival… where small town charm meets world-class fun!” Last years experience didn’t disappoint and I couldn’t wait to return to New Hampshire, and Ellacoya State Park, for a full weekend of fun filled triathlon and non triathlon (= food consumption) related activities. On the journey over I entertained myself by reading the stimulating United in-flight magazine (less stimulating was the film ‘Ghost of Girlfriends Past’. The only saving grace being Matthew McConaughey – who has an array of talents, not limited to acting). Anyway, I was particularly intrigued by a story about a New Hampshire legend called the “Wolfman”. According to the intrepid United reporter, the owners of a tourist park are currently seeking applications for the position of “Wolfman”. The qualifications listed in the want ad are as follows. “A beard, a knowledge of firearms, a high tolerance for humiliation, good physical condition and a willingness to remain unkempt for long periods of time”. I realised that I met 4 out of 5 criteria (currently lacking in depth knowledge of AK47s, and anything else that goes ‘bang’) and therefore decided that should Timberman not go according to plan I could earn some money as WolfWoman instead (the beard is coming along nicely).
Anyway, I digress. I arrived at Gilford on Wednesday evening, and like last year I stayed at the wonderful Gunstock Inn, complete with its indoor pool, gym and supersized breakfast buffet. Fortunately for me the breakfast delights were left out from about 6am until almost midday. I definitely broke all fasts and managed to fit three breakfasts in on most days, although struggled to stick to my self imposed ‘no caffeine for 5 days before a race’ rule. Drinking decaf a like Brad Pitt lookalikes. Initial appearances are OK, but they don’t quite hit the spot.
In between marathon television watching sessions (particular pre race favourites being Wife Swap and What Not to Wear) I did a bit of training. I took the bike out for a 3 hour spin on Thursday and was quickly reminded that the Timberman bike course is in fact rather hilly. And to spice things up a little more Keith Jordan, the race director, had added yet more climbs along what was apty named Brownhill (not downhill) Road. It was about that time that I wish I’d had a high octane, caffiene enfused supersized cappuccino instead of a fake Brad beverage.
The pro field was full to the brim, with Catriona Morrison, ‘Mighty Mouse’ Magali Tissarye, Kate Major, Dede Griesbauer and others looking for battle, and on the men’s side it was a hotbed of athletic talent. And the programme was as stacked as the pro field. A kids race, live music, almost live lobsters, and appearance to congratulate the make a Wish Foundation Fundraisers (who raised around $50,000 for this wonderful charity), a sprint race, a sprint to the carbo loading dinner, and an even faster sprint to the pro panel to answer quick fire questions. Like last year the best question prize went to ‘how do you perform your ablutions during the race?’ and which, predictably, generated a plethora of rather graphic anecdotes by all on the panel (a poll was then taken of all the pro athletes, with a disturbing proportion choosing al fresco dumping, as opposed to experiencing the delights of the porta potty).
Race morning dawned bright and clear, with no sign of Hurricane Bill – who had threatened to pay us a visit, but luckily decided to dump his rainy load off the Atlantic coast instead). I met a wide variety of people in transition. One woman told me that I looked better in real life than I do in pictures. Which I think was a compliment (but not to the photographers). Another fan also took great delight in snapping a photo of Michael Lovato and I both lubing up our nether regions (self lubing I might add. I didn’t go anywhere near Michael’s region). I am sure this photo will have pride of place in the family album.
As an ambassador of Jon Blais’ Blazeman Foundation for ALS, his mother and father, Bob and Mary Ann gave me the honour of spreading his ashes before the start of the race; giving us all time to reflect on Jon’s life, what he achieved, and by spreading his ashes instilling his strength, determination and courage in every athlete, and inculcating it forever in the beautiful New Hampshire countryside.
Balmy 85 degree temperatures and 75 degree water meant that the pros couldn’t wear rubber, and so my TYR Sayonara swimskin was the order of the day. I was pleased with my swim, coming out with Chris Legh and Magali Tissarye I learnt the lessons from the 5430 Long Course race two weeks prior (where I let Julie Dibens put too much time into me on the bike) and made sure I gave absolutely everything, right from the start. I attacked every climb, and stole the lead from Dede at about 20km. I was really pleased with the 2.19 bike split, and rolled into T2 ready to run. The run was hot and humid, but the support was as good as last year, if not better. The most memorable supporter had to be the man dressed in full drag, with a bright red dress, blonde wig and huge, pointy Madonna-Vogue era style appendages. It was he/she who actually handed me a bouquet of flowers as I ran down the finish chute. I have kept the little card which read ‘Chrissie I Love You, from Boob Dress’. I love the ‘perks’ of the job!
To defend the Timberman title was really special, particularly as I was able to dedicate the victory to Jon Blais, and be met at the finish line by his mother and father. And the day didn’t end there. The finish line was fantastic, and I managed to top up my already ludicrous tan lines by staying out in the sun for another 4 hours, and demolish half of the HUGE post race buffet.
Like last year, the annual TYR photoshoot took place in the days after the race. Andy, Magali, TJ, Becky and I headed off to a small village called Nelson, in the middle of nowhere on a lake. Probably very close to where the Wolfman might have lived. In fact, I think TYR were somewhat concerned by my slightly hairy and very unkempt Wolfman-esque appearance. Luckily there was a make up artist on hand to perform miracles. But as TJ said last year, and kindly repeated this time – you can only polish a turd so much, it is still a turd. It was a fantastic couple of days, topped off by the TYR Olympics on the beach. TJ and I were victorious in the three-legged and piggyback contest, but were narrowly beaten by Magali and Becky in the wheelbarrow race. The leapfrog race was void due to blatant cheating on both sides. I have also learned never to play Twister against a 7 foot tall photographer. ‘Left hand green’ means you end up having your face in parts that noses shouldn’t reach.
It was a great week – Timberman is a fantastic race, with amazing scenery, a first class pro field, the best post race food, superb support from volunteers and spectators, and importantly heaps of interaction between the pros and the amateurs throughout the weekend. Congrats to Andy for the win, to Cat and Magali for rounding off the women’s podium, to Richard and Maureen at the Gunstock Inn and all morning breakfast (www.gunstockinn.com), to Amber and Robert at VitalKneads (www.vitalkneads.com), to Myles at MC Cycle and Sport (www.mccycleandsport.com) – and of course to Keith, Claire, Audra and the rest of the Timberman crew.
This one was for Jon.