LONGMONT, Colo. — As the sun began to peak over the horizon on Sunday September 24, many eager triathletes were already in the transition area at Union Reservoir. The beginning of Oktoberfest sprint triathlon was in full swing. Bikes were meticulously racked, helmets were placed on the bikes, and the Union Reservoir water was calling the name of every triathlete.
As the start time creeped nearer, athletes began to slip on their wetsuits. The air around the reservoir was so crisp that swimming in the water felt warmer than standing on dry land. Anticipation grew as the University of Colorado Boulder Triathlon team began their infamous chant, “Icky la boomba, ickly la wicky wicky!”
And with that, the gun signaling the start of the colligate sprint waves shot off. The men’s wave went first and the women’s wave quickly followed. The race directors placed a floating unicorn on the swim course littered with $10 bills, which is an uncommon occurrence in triathlons. The money-filled unicorn did not see much action on Sunday. Each collegiate triathlete focused on their race instead of going for the easy money.
Out of the water, athletes shimmied off wetsuits as bare feet prowled through the transition area. As a racer, I stomped off my wetsuit, threw on my biking equipment as fast as I could, and steered my bike out of T1. The start of the bike course begins on a few yards of dirt. A massive pothole took out a few bikers as they began their second leg of the race. This goes to show the unexpectedness of triathlons.
Once on the bike course, the casualties continued. As I made my way out on the first stretch, I passed two CU athletes replacing flat tires. Luckily, both were able to successfully repair their flats and continue their race. As I rounded the first corner, my legs had successfully transitioned from swim mode to bike mode. With a small climb ahead of me, I gave it everything I had. Sipping my nutrition here and there, I was almost back to transition.
As I slipped my feet out of my shoes getting ready for a flying dismount, I let momentum take hold of my leg. I soared into T2 ready to run. Once off the bike and in transition, I threw off my bike attire and shoved my feet into my running shoes as fast as I could. I knew I needed to make up some time on the run, so I took off.
Unaware of the pace I was running because my watch stopped working, I let my legs turn over as they liked. Typically, I notice that I end up running faster off of the bike because my perception of speed is skewed. Regardless, as I passed teammates on the course, the pain of racing began to seep into my muscles. Since the run course was out-and-back, I had the opportunity to see all of my teammates. Pushing harder and harder, I loved smiling and cheering for my fellow CU triathletes.
After an ecstatic mile and a half, my entire right side began to cramp up. I began to slow down, but I knew I just needed to make it back to the downhill section of the course. Gravity did its job and got my legs moving again. I was back in it. Zipping around the final corner of the run, emotions were high as numerous people cheered for each and every triathlete.
The parents of Alessandro ‘Zaz’ Zarzur flew from Brazil to present the trophy to the winning collegiate team. Zar was a fellow member of the CU triathlon team. He passed away in 2017 due to injuries sustained from a cycling incident in Boulder. Oktoberfest Triathlon is one of the ways we remember Zaz today.
As awards began, the overall team award was awarded to CU triathlon. The top three collegiate men’s finishers were Mark Romano of US Air Force Academy, 57:06, followed by Matheus Menezes of CU Boulder, 58:38, and Davis Kruger of CU Boulder, 1:00:20 in third.
The top three collegiate woman’s finishers were Anna-Maria Dietze, 1:04:09, followed by Lily Harris, 1:06:06, and Madeline Tapp, 1:12:02, all from CU Boulder.
Oktoberfest Triathlon was not only an opportunity to race, but a chance to come together as a community. Triathlon races like this one that can be a reminder of why we started racing in the first place: community, excitement, and support.