I was fortunate enough to be asked to attend the Newtown triathlon in St. Charles, Missouri. Over the past two years I was lucky enough to meet Mike Weiss; owner of Big Shark Bicycle Company in St. Louis, Missouri. Big Shark has 4 locations in St. Louis including Little Shark; a triathlon specific store. Big Shark also has a cycling & triathlon team and they are starting a junior triathlon team. Along with the 4 shops Mike also owns an event service & fencing company and he hosts dozens of events each year including; The Newtown Triathlon. The race was in it’s 5th year and it has a kids triathlon followed by the adult triathlon (.6 mile swim, 20 mile bike, 4 mile run). The event is hosted in Newtown, a community development reminiscent of The Truman Show just outside of St. Charles, Missouri. The event continues to grow and typically has over 500 participants. The level of professionalism, organization and attention to details that the race has is on par or above what Ironman offers. A great finish line, athlete social, free pre race dinner, nice t-shirts, finisher medals, free post race meal, prize money, big race feel, race day announcers and on site free bicycle mechanics are only a few of the amenities at the race. The race is looking to grow next year and offer a half distance triathlon and the Newtown triathlon will be a great preparation race for the longer distance tri. I made the voyage out to Missouri from New Hampshire to help out with the kids race, talk at the athlete social and help out where ever help was needed.
The kid’s triathlon had to be the highlight of the whole weekend. The race had over 50 kids somewhat eager to test themselves in their respective distances. The race was divided into 8-10 & 11-14 year old age groups. Most kids were eager, some were timid but all of them were slippery after their parents dosed them in sunscreen. I was assigned the job of helping pull kids out of the lake. This was fun because I could lift most of them with one arm up and over the rocks but they were like slippery fish although unlike the fish they were eager to get out of the water and onto their bikes. The older kids blew threw transition and were onto their bikes like pros as some of the younger generation struggled to tie their shoes. Telling adults about a mount/dismount line is difficult so you can imagine what this was like with a bunch of kids. The race organizers and volunteers did an amazing job making some order to the chaos and all of the kids completed the triathlon. One of the highlights was seeing one young girl sport her swimming goggles the entire bike and run. She one upped the fastest ITU racers and eliminated the step of switching to sunglasses, ha! The race was very entertaining and I was impressed with some of the older kids in the race. Having races like the Newtown Triathlon kid’s race will help development for the sport of triathlon in the United States. All of the kids were treated like rock stars with a great finish line, finisher medals and a podium. After helping out for the day with the kid’s race I was eager for Sunday and the adult race. In between the kids triathlon and athlete social we escaped for a 3 hour ride to spin the legs.
The Newtown Triathlon was also a great race because two of my individual sponsors; Hammer Nutrition & Mountain Khakis were also sponsoring the event. Hammer Nutrition provided fuel for the races & Mountain Khakis provided prizes including; t-shirts, koozies and $30 gift certificates. On Sunday morning I was ready to race and knew that I would have some stiff competition because former pro Nathan Kortuem; husband & coach of olympian and itu triathlon star Sarah Haskins would be racing. I’m more of a long course guy so I knew that my lack of swim speed would be highlighted in such a short event and to make matters worse it was non-wetsuit. I had a decent swim and came out of the water in the top 5 and headed out onto the bike course. Unfortunately I was flying out right after the race to work the Tour De Montana with The Cycling House so I left my aero wheels and helmet behind. I charged on the bike and missed getting the fastest bike split by a mere 23 seconds. Nathan had established a large lead putting over 2 minutes on me in the swim and after a solid run I had to settle for second place. The race was a blast and I was happy to get in some speed work before I raced Ironman Lake Placid in two weeks. I went out for another hour of running and 30 minutes of swimming to make it a solid day before awards. I made one amateur mistake in transition and nearly racked my bicycle on the wrong rack. I was happy to hear Mike Weiss’s voice over the loudspeaker heckling me. Fun times…
After the race I helped out with some of the race breakdown before I had to hop on a plane bound for Montana. It was a quick turnaround and I ended up having to change out my running clothes in the airport bathroom and rinse off in the sink. True rock star style! I arrived in Missoula around midnight and hit the ground running the next morning as our clients arrived for the Tour De Montana. Racing the Newtown Triathlon will be a highlight of the summer for me. Most races & race directors could learn something from the Big Shark crew about how to put on a race the correct way. No corners were cut and all the small details were filled in to make this a top notch event. If you happen to live even remotely close to St. Louis I highly suggest adding the Newtown Triathlon to your race calendar next year. I survived the Tour De Montana and you can read a post about the trip here. My VW Vanagon; Orange Crusher, and I will be heading out to Ironman Lake Placid tomorrow. Fortunately Crusher is running much better these days thanks to GoWesty. Until next time…..