by Jack Mott
The Marble Falls Triathlon has always been a favorite event for Texans, well known for its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful, challenging bike course. The race offers a unique distance that is just a bit short of the standard Olympic distance, with a 1K swim, 23-mile bike, and 4.4-mile run. This year for the first time a sprint distance option was also offered, with a 500m swim, 12-mile bike, and 2-mile run.
The race starts in Lakeside Park, and the swim is held in Lake Marble Falls. The bike course winds up and out of the park and then goes straight uphill and out of town for about 5 miles. Sprint athletes turn around at the top and fly straight back down, while the full course athletes head up Hwy 71 for a few miles of rolling hills before returning. The run course then winds through Marble Falls City Park and the surrounding neighborhood, with a short, steep uphill climb to the finish line, just to punish you one last time. ATC had a large contingent of groupies and their friends at the race this year, with successful performances by all.
George Schmitz started off his race with a 17-minute swim, aided by a fancy swim skin (see him tearing it off in the title picture). He was 2nd fastest in his age group, but he quickly took the lead by throwing down the fastest bike split in his category on his Cervelo P4 at 22.5 mph. Backed up by quick transitions and an ITU-style flying bike dismount, he was able to hold off the chasers on the run and finish 1st in the 20-24 age group and 9th fastest man of the day.
ATC regular John Trowbridge put on a clinic in the 45-49 age group. Fastest age group swim split, fastest T1 time, fastest bike split, fastest T2 time, fastest run, and of course the age-group win. His overall time was the 4th fastest in the entire event as well, without a Cervelo or an aero helmet. A truly studly performance, with no weaknesses!
Marla has been splitting her time as a triathlete and bike racer this year. She has been sighted in recent weeks gunning for the podium at the Driveway Series crits, but that hasn't stopped her from running and swimming too. Marla started off with a decent swim, beginning the bike in 5th place in the 35-39 age group. She then put her bike racing skills to use by powering herself back into the lead on her trusty Cervelo P3 with a 20.8 mph average speed, quickest in her category. Sadly, Mary Green, who had led out of the water, was able to get back into the lead on the run, but Marla hung on tough for 2nd place. On the podium again!
Kent Snead, occasional bike racer and occasional triathlete, was the only one among us brave enough to try the shorter, more intense sprint distance. Kent had no expectations, but we expected great things. He had also been seen on Driveway Series crit podiums in recent weeks, so if nothing else, he would surely bike fast. Kent started out with a decent swim, and then crushed the bike course on his Cervelo P2 with the 2nd fastest time of the entire sprint event at 23.9 mph. This, despite losing his chain in the closing meters and having to coast in full Dave-Zabriske-aero-tuck all the way down to transition. Kent followed that up with a solid run to take the Masters overall win!
Gray Skinner came to Marble Falls as part of his preparation for the 2012 Savageman Triathlon. An accomplished cyclist, this would be his first triathlon in years. The swim, his weakest event, went relatively well, completed in about 18 minutes. He then stormed through the 23-mile bike course at an average speed of 25.6 mph, finishing the bike course minutes faster than anyone else at the event. His bike weapon of choice was his old-school aluminum Cervleo P3. He followed this up with some 6-minute miles on the run to take the age group win and 3rd fastest time overall.
Dustin is half of one of the most fearsome husband-and-wife tri duos in Texas, the other half being last year's overall female winner Maggi Finley. This year, however, his wife was away, leaving him to race alone. But this didn't stop him from dominating the swim, posting the fastest split in the always competitive 40-44 age group. He followed this up with a 21.6 mph bike split on his Cannondale Slice, 4th fastest in his category. Dustin was troubled by a strange rattling sound during the bike, which turned out to be a loose cassette! Fortunately it stayed on and allowed him to shift for the duration of the race. Dustin then charged through the run course with some 7-minute miles to post the 3rd quickest run split and get himself onto the age group podium in 3rd place.
The Austin Dreamcrushers - Relay Ringers
James Davison, ex division 1 swimmer and coach would start us off in the water, followed by myself (Jack Mott), ex division 1 video gamer, on the bike, and ex division 1 runner and coach Leah Soro Skinner on the run. Our goals were loftier than merely winning the relay category. More importantly, we wanted to help Leah score a victory over her husband Gray. We got off to a good start, with James making it through the swim in 16 minutes. He ran up to transition and handed me the chip, and I grabbed my Cervelo P3 and was off. I kept the power high up the 5-mile climb to the highway, knowing that if I blew up a bit early, it would be no problem, I didn't have to run and the last 5 miles would be downhill! I felt like I was using cheat codes on the bike course. With no swim before, or run after, I was flying past people like I was actually good at this. I even had time to give Marla a little slap on the rear as I went by on the climb. (Fortunately, she laughed!) On the way back to transition I flew through the turns fast enough to worry the volunteers, but made it safe to T2 with a 57-minute bike split, 5th fastest of the day. Leah grabbed the chip and took off onto the run course with some sub 7-minute miles to bring home the relay win! We failed in our most important mission, however - Gray Skinner had 30 seconds on us.
The Overall Winners
The overall winners of the 2012 Marble Falls Triathlon were Austin's own Jamie Cleveland and Andrea Fisher, the other most fearsome husband-and-wife triathlon duo in the state. Congratulations to them both!
Full Results Posted Here