I had been planning to visit the USA to witness the total eclipse of the sun on August 21st for some time, mulling over the route, the viewing location and which of my far-flung relatives I would visit. At the start of the year it was beginning to come together centred on an Eclipse tour to a climate favoured area of Oregon state. Then I read an article in Triathlete’s World about racing in the USA and discovered there was a featured race in Washington DC that fit with my schedule. I was settled, I would do it. The route of the bike and run passed all of the Iconic Washington sights, and the swim was in the Potomac River. It could be hot, and humid, I filed in my head the possibility of downgrading to a sprint if conditions demanded.More of an issue: how would I stay race fit through 5 weeks of traveling around?
First stop, Washington to unpack and build my bike before setting off. Then San Francisco; my in laws live right by Golden Gate Park and have two sporty sons, They had organised the loan of a bike and challenged me to some hilly Franciscan rides as well as a Sunday morning running club time trial. Off to Portland to join my Eclipse tour. Ten days on a coach looked challenging, but our first stop was on the coast where a six mile expanse of beach encouraged morning and evening runs. The tour began and ended in Portland, possibly the most cycle friendly city in the USA- but I was missing out on swims. Next stop Chicago where a magnificent hotel pool was available, and Cleveland where my Cousin’s gym boasted an Olympic sized facility. Best of all in Kentucky where another cousin treated me to a ride on his boat in the enormous Lake Cumberland, which was comfortably warm enough for swimsuit swimming.
So at dawn on the 10th September there I was with a thousand others lined up in the shadow of the Washington Monument, shivering in unseasonably chilly temperatures. After the singing of the National Anthem we filed onto the pontoon in order of expected time to jump in at 3 second intervals and begin swimming. No warm up! Best marked course ever- buoys every 100 metres, with distance marked on each. easy ladder exit and grassy run into transition. Closed road cycle which took us past the Lincoln Memorial and out across the river to the Pentagon and finally a one loop run around East Potomac Golf Course, passing even more iconic Washington sights. Mercifully it remained cool throughout- a great boon for the run. Result- Just a smidgen over 4 hours ( I have done much better) but second in age, and the honour of GB upheld.
Altogether a very well run event, with roomy transition, technical support,plenty of kayacs in the river, adequate water stations and generous goody bag and athlete expo village. The organisers are also the organisers of Escape from Alcatraz, and clearly know what they are doing. US athelets are friendly and welcoming. Next time a holiday In the US coincides with a race, do it.
Oh, and the Eclipse was pretty cool as well .