THE BIG SHOWDOWN: My Gear West Duathlon Race Report

>> Monday, May 20, 2013

Or, "Trying Not to get Caught by Devon's Team."

Or, "The Plan was to CHEAT All Along?!?"

Or, "A LOT of Bright Speedos."

This is it! The big race report. Unless you've been hibernating for the last 2 months, you know all about the "showdown" between pro triathlete Devon Palmer and I. He formed a team ("Gold Gopher Guys") and challenged my team ("Team Itchy & Scratchy") to a race. Here's a recent post (with a lot of links at the bottom) that will get you caught up in all the smack talk. All you really need to know is that Devon got elite runner Ben Kampf to be his runner, and we agreed upon a 15:42 "handicap" for our team. The race director was even going to let their team start 15:42 behind us so it was the "first team to the line wins."

As we drove to the race yesterday, the sky got dark and it started raining:

Jennifer's tweet from the race: "View of transition. Wetsuit legal. #gearwestdu"

Unloading Henry, who was still in his PJs.

Getting Henry changed in the school at the race site.

Pre-race "business" at the school.

Walking back to the car to get his galoshes.

Wet transition.

There weren't puddles THIS big on the course, but there were a lot of similar wet spots.

Teammate Pete coming back from a warm-up ride.

I'd given my camera to Pete's little lady Jennifer. She was the one to get most of these upcoming shots. THANKS JENNY!! She got these next 2 photos, which are some of the most fun photos of me ever:

I don't know what this is. Pre-race nerves, maybe?...

Seeing Pete's shorts for the first time and rubbing them for good luck! I LOVE our faces! :)

Then nemesis Devon spotted me from across transition:


Super stare-down. (My boobs look great here - they perk up when I'm intimidated.)

Unpleasant team-vs-team photo. (Their "bitch faces" are better than ours.)

OK, we really weren't always that serious. In fact we were RARELY that serious.

4 nipples listening to the pre-race meeting.

Pharmie and Henry!

BIG PRE-RACE NEWS!!! The runner for their team was NOT elite runner Ben Kampf!! Ben called Devon less than 24 hours before the race saying he couldn't race because of a hurt ankle. So Devon got another friend to race for him on short notice. He said he's not as fast as Ben, but still faster than me. We were just going to keep things as is and have a good time, even if it meant the 15:42 time difference was a little long now.

Time to race!

A "who's who" line-up of rockstar MN multisport athletes!

Me tucked in back there behind Thad.

I was running in about 15th, and we were jockeying around a bit. I was running pretty hard, and my time showed it: I hit mile 1 in 5:38. That would be the fastest part of the run course, because the rest was quite nasty. The first half mile was paved, and the next half mile was mainly wet gravel and wet grass. But the last part of mile 2 is nasty, muddy, uneven, single-track-like running. Mile 2 was quite a bit slower at 6:20, but that's about what I expected.

There were a LOT of wet spots out there in the final mile. It wasn't muddy, but there was just a lot of standing water from the morning downpour. My shoes were soaked through.

Back near transition, Devon's runner was getting ready to go, but THEY NEVER PLANNED ON STICKING TO THE 15:42 HANDICAP! Someone tweeted me this photo from the packet pick-up area:

It appears the sneaky plan all along was to ignore our agreed-upon 15:42 time difference and go off after only 12 minutes! And that's what he did:

A lonely start (for cheaters).

You see that? His toe is on the line at the start. Disqualified.

Pete was back in transition waiting for me to get to him:

He looks like a sad, wet puppy in awesome shorts.

Waiting and looking for me.

I passed Tony Schiller (just over my shoulder) with about 0.5 miles left in the first run.

With chips embedded in each of our race numbers, there was no chip to exchange.
We just slapped hands and Pete was off!
(Oh, and that's Devon in the distance in red watching us....)

Let's go Pete!!!

Pete and his shorts getting ready to tackle the 17 mile ride.

Oh that's lovely how that sweat mark highlights my fupa.

So I mentioned in my post on Thursday and Pete and I were pretty confident that we could beat Devon's team, but there was ONE other thing that we were scared of. Former student Jeremy (who I ran a lot of races with last year as part of the MDRA Grand Prix Series) had recruited a "University of Minnesota Triathlon Team" teammate of his to be his biker for his relay team. We knew that there could be all this hype between Devon's team and our team, but this OTHER team could sweep in and beat us!

And Jeremy was just 30 seconds behind me in the first run. If he had a strong collegiate biker (which we were afraid he had), we were toast.

Jeremy just after the first run.

My family!

Cheater #1 and cheater #2 doing their hand-off (NOT in the required "team zone," I might add).

Henry was finding puddles...

... and splashing.

With a dry change-of-clothes in hand.

Changing from 1 bright speedo to another in a wet porta-potty.

Yes, I was afraid of Jeremy's team beating us, but that didn't mean I wasn't going to
give him advice on the course! (We actually warmed-up together to talk
through the tricky parts of the winding run routes. Jeremy's a great guy!)

As bikers started appearing, we were all looking for our teammates. Jeremy said "Oh there's my guy!" and I said "DAMN IT, JEREMY!!" with a big smile. This wasn't looking good for Pete and I.

Just after Jeremy was tagged.

Me watching Jeremy run out of T2 while noting the time.

Pete working his way up the final hill!!!!

Sweet ass.

Running out.

By my watch, Jeremy was about 2.5 minutes in front of me. I knew I could NOT make up a minute / mile on him, but I had to make sure I held off Devon's runner who would be starting shortly behind me. I ran out HARD. I thought my first mile would be faster this time, but it was a little slower (at 5:47). Any off-road section was MUCH WORSE IN THIS FINAL RUN! Now another 300+ feet had ran over those wet and squishy areas, so everything was harder to run on. ESPECIALLY the last half in the muddiest areas.

Less than a mile into the final run.

Pete looking spent after a solid ride!

Devon (to the left) watching his runner take off after me.

Pete and Devon being social.

I nearly wiped-out about 3 or 4 times on that final run, but I'm sure nearly everyone did that. I nearly slipped sideways down a muddy hill just after the 1st mile marker, I almost tripped on a washed out area 90 seconds after that, and one section of the wood chip-covered trail was NASTY: it looked just fine, but you soon realized that all the wood chips were floating on top of a massive puddle. And I almost lost a shoe in the big wet area next to the baseball diamonds just after coming out of the woods for the last time. The first run was just wet... now on the second run, things had gotten muddy. Here are some "elite" legs just after they finished:

So I never saw Devon's runner coming behind me out there. I felt pretty good that we were going to win the little showdown. But I also couldn't see Jeremy in front of me, so I was REALLY sure that their team would beat us.

But then at the S-curves around the 1.75 mile marker, I ran into Jeremy running the other direction, and he said "I did it - I got lost!" Oh crap! Things could get interesting! I did my little loop behind Jeremy, and I noted I was just over a minute behind him. So he lost some time getting lost out there, but it wasn't enough to loose a position. Mile 2 was muddy and nasty, but I only gave up 1 second from the first run: 6:21.

Jeremy coming to the line as the first place team (until Devon's team finishes) at his relay debut.

Me back there heading to the finish.

Many just-after-the-finish shots of me show me trying to unhinge my jaw to breathe.

"Pardon me as I try not to puke over here..."

A good rivalry comes to a close post-race!

A muddy butt with 2 clean bikers.

FLASHBACK: Here's a photo from my 2011 Gear West Duathlon race report that shows me posing / catching my breath in nearly the same way, with a similarly muddy bum:


Here are 5 more photos from the end of the race:

Henry was running around with Mama and LOVING it out there!

Somehow, this has become a post-race tradition. Devon ran up shouting "EMERGENCY
HYDRATION" and splashed me in the face. (There's Jeremy and his biker to the left.)

Devon's runner finished 5:07 after me, so "Itchy & Scratchy" officially won the duel!!
He was FLYING to the finish.

Awkward sexy man hug among teammates.

One last dirty butt shot.


Itchy & Scratchy = Steve Stenzel, Pete Webster

• 2.8 mile run: 18:18 (6:32 pace),
2nd fastest team, 14th fastest overall (249 + relays)
• T1: 0:41 seconds, T-3th fastest team
• 16.6 mile bike: 43:19 (23.0 mph), 5th fastest team, 31st fastest overall
• T2: 0:22 seconds, T-5th fastest team
• 2.8 mile run: 18:20 (6:33 pace), 2nd fastest team, 7th fastest overall

Total: 1:20:56

3 out of 8 male / male teams
3 out of 13 teams total


• My first run split was just 4 seconds behind Devon's runner, and my 2nd was 23 seconds behind. I'm pretty happy with how even my run times were. (They appear to be some of the most even out there.) One random goal for me during the race was to see if I could crack the top-10 overall run splits (I did that 2 years ago where I was 7th in the 1st run and 4th in the 2nd). Well, I was 14th in the first run (13th back to transition, and then Devon's runner beat me too), but I was 7th in the final run:

Devon's runner (not Ben) was 3rd, and Jeremy was right behind me in 8th even though he
took a wrong turn! And anytime I can be near Dan Hedgecock in the results is a good day.

• Pete had the 5th fastest team bike, but 3rd and 4th were just 4 seconds faster! Pete mentioned a few times that he hoped to be about the speed of my brother-in-law Matt (who I've always done this race with), and he WAS! By the official results, Pete pulled a 23.0 average. Matt did better than that 2 times and worse than that 2 times. For it being a little breezy and wet, that's RIGHT with his speed in the past. In fact, in 2011 it was similar conditions, and Matt posted a 23.1 mph average. Oh, and Devon posted the fastest bike split of the day by any competitor with a 26.9 mph average (6:16 faster than Pete). Nutso.

• Based on our handicapped "equalizer" math, Pete kicked a LOT of ass out there! Looking at Buffalo Tri last year where Pete and Devon raced, we figured there would be an 11:21.9 difference between Devon's split and Pete's split. Pete nearly cut that in HALF! He's been hitting the bike hard! Nice work, fellow brightly-shorted teammate!

• Technically, this is my worst finish at the Gear West Duathlon. Matt and I finished 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, and 1st in the last 4 years we raced. But coming in 3rd this year might have been the most fun I've had here. (Although the come-from-behind win in 2011 WAS pretty fun!)

• I didn't even think about it until after the race, but my back/neck spasm from 3 days before didn't act up at all! It was sore post-race, but it didn't affect my running at all. (I wrote more about this and showed me at the acupuncturist in my last post.)

• My stomach BARELY cooperated for this race. Here comes the TMI... I had 2 pre-race nervous poops at home which is normal, but they were getting a little "loose." At the race site, I had 1 REALLY loose one about 45 minutes pre-race. Between the 2 runs, I had, well, "the runs." And post-race, my stomach was pretty upset. Pharmie wasn't sure I'd make it home by the look on my face and the way I was acting when we left the race site. But we made it home, and I had a few shots of Pepto over the next 2 hours. Things seem better now. It wasn't just "nerves..." I don't know what it was.

• And my final thought: do a "handicapped" race like this with a friend. I've challenged friends to races in the past, but never something like this where 1 person (pro triathlete Devon Palmer) is obviously WAY better than the other(s). You could always say something like "OK, we're both training for this 10K, but you always finish 2 minutes in front of me at that distance. If I finish within 2 minutes of you, you buy me dinner." Or what-not. This is a fun way to stay motivated among friends and push yourself. And you could choose to partake in smack-talk if you want... that's not a requirement. (But I have to say that it did make things more fun.)

I have more fun photos from the Crowning Ceremony, but I'll post those in a day or two. Right now, I'm beat. I feel like Henry when he got back from the race yesterday...

(Again, if you want to get caught up on all the smack-talk leading up to this race, go to this recent post, and check out a lot of links at the bottom of that post. If you only go to one of those links, I recommend #7 where Devon showed up to do intervals on MY track.)

Back with more soon!


Life After Swimming 10:51 AM, May 20, 2013  

I am going to miss the rivalry posts! Love all of the pictures :) Great race!

Carolina John 11:16 AM, May 20, 2013  

You know it's not a fair fight when he has a mustache like that. That 'stache doesn't play games. Congrats on the big win!

Jeremy Reichenberger 12:43 PM, May 20, 2013  

Was definitely the most fun I've had at a race, Steve! Thanks for turning me on to it! Sorry to kick you guys down to #3 this year! I'll definitely be back next year - to hopefully actually kick your butt running-wise.

I'd love to get my hands on these photos/any more you've got to put 'em up on Facebook, etc.

Ririnette 2:49 PM, May 20, 2013  

It was a lot of fun to see this story unfold over the months. Well done! You guys for sure aren't very lucky weather wise and that makes your results even more commendable. As to Devon's mustache, I totally thought it was a fake one. So not aero. And what young dude wears a stache outside Movember? Anyway, it was quite the touch. So is the trash talk over now? :-)

Merrilee 5:13 PM, May 20, 2013  

Great fun and very cool of Devon to start late, that had to feel really weird to run alone. Pete's shorts are mind-numbing-ly awesome. And I've just spent a lot of time staring at them, I sorta feel dirty!

Pete,  8:42 PM, May 20, 2013  

I really had fun with my first ever relay. I'm so glad it stopped raining. I'll team up with you anytime.

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