It's Killer Kevin Kennedy from Cleveland!! A winter camper, Kevin earned his notoriety in camper lore by taking down camp counselor, Paula Newby-Fraser during one of the bike rides. On Sunday, Kevin will be taking on all comers in the Clydesdale World Championships - for which Mrs. T's received designation in 2001.
Fuhr and Huddle Head to Mrs. T's Chicago TriathlonChicago has been host to the biggest participatory triathlon in the world for some time now and both Heather and I (Huddle) have raced here on more than one occasion. Though it's a "must do" for anyone who claims to be a triathlete, I'd have never guessed that I'd be coming back to the Windy City to cover this event for television. Jan Caille and the rest of the race organization must have been more than a little desperate when he called. "Huddle, we're looking for someone to do color for the T.V. show. Interested?" Since it sounded a lot easier than racing and would allow me to go to the biggest triathlon show on earth, which happens to be sponsored by our favorite people, Mrs. T's Pierogies, what could I say? "No." might have been a good start.
With Newby heading up to Bonelli Park for a Women's event and Roach going to the Great White North for the Underpants Run, it was my duty to find a willing female victim to cover the women's race. I found my prey in Heather when I called and said, "Jan wants you to cover the women at Chicago. Interested?" Coming off a phenomenal win at Lake Placid just 4-weeks ago and thinking about the possibility of Chicago Pizza and beer, she agreed. I didn't realize it at the time but Heather would require me to bring my running shoes and go for a couple of runs with her - otherwise, I'd have never even considered her. Little did she know, but I slotted her in for a promotion by another of the event sponsors, Multiplex Clubs, who wanted a pro male and female to set 5-minute standards on their exercise bikes.
Friday was all about traveling. After the 6-hour drive to the airport and flight to Chicago, we embarked on the most exciting and dangerous part of the entire journey. That's right, the ride on the Airport Express from Ohare to the race headquarters hotel. Everything was going smoothly until our driver pulled away from the airport arrivals curb. From that point on it was an exercise in white knuckle strength gripping on any part of the interior of the van, road rage level emotional outbursts from our driver (a descendant of Alain Prost - with a bad case of criminal dementia), and hair raising close calls with drivers, bike messengers, and pedestrians unfortunate enough to cross our path. After 2-hours in this oversized stock car with 8-people we though we were going to perish with, we arrived at the Hyatt and kissed the bellman as we exited the van.
So, we've been going 8 or 9-hours at this point - most of it in the cramped, elbows in, kink in the neck from nodding off, knees bent far too long, position. We check in, drop our bags, don running shoes and shorts and head down to the expo so Heather can challenge a stationary bike and I can mill around and see how many energy bar pieces I can stuff in my mouth. I grab Mike Pigg from the Phil's Bar booth and he reluctantly agrees to be the male standard on the bike but, being dressed in jeans and ready for 5-hours of expo-ing, refuses to go the full 5-minutes. "I'll sweat like a pig (no pun). I've still got to talk to people for 5-hours. I'll give you two minutes and you can extrapolate how far I would have gone from that." The deal is sealed and the two jump on the bikes and proceed to launch into anaerobic hell with a 3-hours of driving, 4.5 hours of flying, and an hour of walking around airports as warm-up. Perfect. Heather gets 3.08 miles in the allotted 5-minutes while Baldy gets an extrapolated 3.65 minutes. When we came by on Saturday, Heather was still on top while Piggy's distance had been surpassed by some rabid age-grouper - hey, the guy was wearing jeans.
On Saturday, Heather flogged me in her first 2-hour run since Lake Placid. This is the beginning of a shortened Hawaii training period for the fleet of foot Canadian and I had the dubious distinction of serving as the day's whipping boy. Lake Shore Drive was the venue and 30-minutes into it we had torrential rain, lightning, thunder, roller bladders, cyclists, dogs, baby joggers, and every team in training / Fleet Feet Sports marathon running group to contend with - it made the torture pass relatively quickly.
After the run, we met the crew from Fox Sports and interviewed a couple of the top professionals. Finally, the purpose for our trip! We got the run-down for tomorrow's schedule and were delighted to find that things didn't get rolling until 8am! We could sleep in - not. Heather ended my elation when I was informed we'd be going for a "jog" before we did anything. This professional triathlete thing is too much. I'm taking Monday off.
More on race day to come . . .