Race Report: 2013 Heart of the Valley Triathlon

April 22, 2013

Submitted by Craig Dean –

The 2013 HOTV sprint triathlon was held five weeks earlier than in previous years, but maintained its excellent reputation as a well-organized, competitive event for a wide array of athletes.  The Osborn Aquatic Center in Corvallis, OR once again hosted the multiple-wave pool swim where participants were treated to extra wide lanes in the 50-meter indoor pool.  Local Northwest multi-sport legend Kirk Rose greeted the participants on the pool deck and bellowed instructions for everyone to hear.  He worked with the official race director in explaining to competitors the 10-second send offs, passing etiquette and the route to the transition area.  Kirk’s energy was contagious to many of those around him and especially to those who know his history in racing and overcoming personal health issues over the years.

The race had a clean start and a bit of shuffling in the lanes before each swimmer found their tempo.  Daniel Hough started 10-seconds behind Ray Fiori, but managed to skip past him in the opening 100 meters allowing Fiori to embark on his pre-race strategy of clinging to Hough’s slipstream and enjoying the speed and comfort of the draft.  Ray commented after the race that he had to press into anaerobic levels to catch Hough’s feet after each turn, but the benefits of the draft made the effort worth the while.  The fastest swimmers made waves in lanes 9 and 10 with Karl Britsch leading Marco Ramirez and Brian Villarete out to transition.  The transition area was clogged early with the top eight swimmers separated by 1:34.  One of the pre-race favorites and defending TRI NW Sprint Champion, Nate Youngs, had the misfortune of swimming an extra lap, setting him behind his actual efforts.

The women’s race was tight as well.  Mixed in with the male lane assignments, Robin Clevenger and Angie Smith exited the waters just seconds apart and quick on the heels of the leaders in the men’s field.  Angie, currently training for Nationals in Milwaukee, WI this June and flying the banner for the state of Oregon at the event, has become a staple competitor for the overall win at most Northwest races she enters.   Chasing the leaders into transition by 30 seconds was Kelsey Longrie and 10 seconds later, Kambria Schumacher.  Schumacher was looking to make her mark on the hilly ride.

The bike course at HOTV may be a mile shorter than the typical sprint races, but it makes up for the distance with an aggressive elevation profile.  After exiting transition and crossing a controlled intersection, the road pointed skyward in a quadricep burning incline that is just long enough to coax respect from the most accomplished cyclists.  Ray, an experienced mountain bike rider and self-confessed specialist at the cycling leg of triathlons, took advantage of his slim frame to leap up the ascent while gobbling up the leading swimmers.  Ray’s burning desire to establish the overall lead while on the bike was accomplished when he overtook Hough amongst the slopes at the midpoint of the ride.  He ultimately grabbed the top bike split of the day with a 24.46mph average speed.   I picked my way through the field while chasing relay rider Grant Eldridge.  We eventually joined Hough who was riding in 2nd position overall for a spirited conclusion of the bike race.  We were tightly trailed by a young upstart in the sport of triathlon, Marco Ramirez.  Due to his start differential, Marco finished the ride in 3rd position overall and in contention for the podium.

The women transitioned well out of the pool and created separation early on the ride.  Smith churned ahead of Clevenger and into the overall lead on the early slopes of the course.  Her 21.31mph average speed was good enough to hold the overall lead into transition, but her gap on Schumacher became dangerously thin.  Schumacher set the top women’s split with a 21.51mph average and whittled Smith’s lead down to 22 seconds heading into the run.  Clevenger nailed down an impressive ride to hold onto 3rd position while Erica McKenzie made the biggest jump from deep in the field following the swim to 4th position after the ride.

In stark contrast to the undulating terrain of the bike course, the run was a pancake flat, two-loop course that offers a peaceful neighborhood setting with a few tight corners.  It was difficult to site anybody except those in immediate proximity.  The only evidence of Fiori’s solid lead on the pack of chasers came from a few of the more experienced spectators that clocked and communicated split times.  To those hoping to catch Ray, the split information was not supportive.  In Ray’s own words, “I made it hurt”.  Fiori cruised to victory by nearly a full minute and a total time of 1:01:01.  I finished 56 seconds behind the winner and Hough another 47 seconds behind me.

On the women’s side, Schumacher bolted out of transition and quickly established her tempo around the track which led out into the neighborhoods.  In a slight alteration to the course from season’s past, the run segment started with a loop around the track rather than finishing on the rubberized surface.  Schumacher continued her quick cadence and leapt into the lead to never look back.  Her women’s best run split of 19:13 capped a winning day with an overall time of 1:07:19.  Angie Smith laid down a solid run of her own to finish 30 seconds back of the lead and well clear of her nearest pursuer.  McKenzie continued with her momentum off of the bike and transitioned in a flash before setting her targets on 3rd place.  Her 20:05 run split matched that of Smith and catapulted her into a 3rd place overall finish.

Congratulations to everyone involved with the promotion, organization and execution of the event including both the AA Sports event staff and the folks at the Osborn Aquatic Center. The Heart of the Valley Triathlon provides a perfect opportunity for those looking for their first triathlon and a favorite for those looking to get an early season race under their belts.  If you haven’t already, spread the word about the sport.  It’s a lifestyle more than an event.  It’s a community to be proud of and one that can be shared with many more.

For complete event results CLICK HERE.

Race Report: 2012 Heart of the Valley Triathlon

May 30, 2012

HOTV-MagAdMemorial Day Monday is celebrated in many ways across the country.  From memorial ceremonies with fly over jets to riverside campgrounds with friends and family around fire.  For a few weekend warriors, Memorial Day starts with a sprint triathlon at the Osborne Aquatic Center in Corvallis, OR.

The first wave of swimmers at this year’s Heart of the Valley Triathlon took to the pool just after 8am with additional waves of swimmers hitting the lanes minutes after the previous wave cleared the waters in search of their bikes.  By 9am, the final wave of swimmers pushed from the starting blocks.  In all, 159 individuals finished the race in addition to 11 relay teams.  Race organizers utilized an outdoor 25-yard pool in addition to the indoor 50-meter pool with extra wide lanes to expedite the tricky task of efficiently conducting a pool swim triathlon.  In the early waves a plethora of athletes with various swim techniques managed their way through the 7-1/2 laps.  From the pool deck, I witnessed backstrokes, breast strokes, side strokes and back floats.  I couldn’t help but think of the courage it must have taken some of these novice swimmers to enter into the event.

Before the 3rd and final wave started in the indoor pool many of the contestants checked with their lane mates about the rules and conduct when passing.  There would be a lot of passing as the lane assignments were configured according to each swimmers estimated 500-yard time.  Some of the estimated times may have had more to do with desired time rather than a true estimate.  Thank goodness for the extra wide lanes.  Some swimmers stopped at the wall to allow for quicker fish to move ahead and occasionally a center line pass was required to keep everybody moving.  When the churn of the pools subsided, Jefferey Nason stood a top the best swim split of the morning with an Aquaman like 10:02.  Jeff was followed by Karl Britsch’s 10:32 and Matt Berg’s 10:38 to establish the top three men heading into transition.  On the women’s side, Rachel Lee led out of the water like she has at this event in year’s past with a 10:33 split.  The next women out of the water was Jayette Pettit at 12:04 followed by Allysa Martin at 12:48.

The HOTV bike course may be a mile shorter than the typical sprint distance of 12 miles, but it makes up for its abbreviated distance with a steady grind of rolling hills.  With nary a flat section, riders find themselves constantly cycling up and back down their chain ring in search of the perfect gear to tackle the terrain.  Matt Berg quickly established the overall lead with a quick transition followed by a strong climb up the opening hill.  The field behind Berg shuffled a bit with Steve Mayer making the biggest leap from 14th out of the water to 3rd into transition.  Steve utilized a the leading bike split on the day (28:28) to pull into contention while making it look rather effortless while passing me into the transition area.  Berg led the race by 1:30 heading into the run.

On the women’s side, three ladies separated themselves from the pack with strong bike splits to set up a three racer showdown on the run.  Molly McGraw’s 34:17 set the bar on the ride while also pulling her from 35th out of the water to 2nd in transition.  Just 16 seconds behind McGraw, in 3rd position, was Gruber who had chipped away at Lee’s solid lead with a 35:28 bike split.  Lee held onto the lion’s share of her lead with a 35:37 split and entered the run 2-minutes clear of her chasers.
A shirtless Matt Berg headed out of transition with a quick cadence and relentless pace.  He never looked back on the lead he established early on the ride and cruised to victory with a new course record.  Berg’s 58:32 erased the previous mark established by last year’s winner Grant Hayball (59:18).  I paced the leader with a similar run split and pulled to the line at 1:00:02 and the same deficit (1:30) that I had entering the run.  Chris Depner laid down the fastest run split on the day (17:20) while firmly securing his 3rd place finish.

The women’s race provided the drama for the morning with a shuffling of the deck towards the end of the run.  Gruber whittled away at Lee’s lead in the winding twists of the neighborhood run on her way to a top performing women’s split of 18:37.  She needed all but 14 seconds of her run margin to take the lead and ultimately the win on the women’s race with a total time of 1:08:58.  Lee held on for second with a total time of 1:09:12.  McGraw slipped from 2nd to 3rd overall and finished with a total time of 1:10:47 while laying down an impressive 20:43 run split.
There are plenty of colorful stories and addition to the race that don’t take place towards the front of the pack and those are the participants that make regional events like the Heart of the Valley sprint triathlon thrive.  Three cheers to Team Burton and the “I am Burton” shirts worn while racing.  I share my applause also with young Sawyer Olson who took his father’s advise and tried all he could to “stick to that guy there!” while out on the run. Sawyer’s father was pointing at me from the passenger seat of his van while egging his son on during the run.  I’m guessing young Sawyer will soon be scanning the race calendar on www.racecenter.com in search of his next event.

A special thanks to AA Sports, event sponsors and the folks at the Osborne Aquatic Center for another great experience at the Heart of the Valley Triathlon.

For complete race results, CLICK HERE.

Men’s Winner Matt Berg :58:32
Women’s Winner Elizabeth Gruber 1:08:58

Age Group Winners:
Male 11 and under Jason Seiner 1:26:20
Male 12-14 Sawyer Olson 1:18:48
Male 15-17 Axel Estell 1:21:42
Male 18-19 Marco Ramirez 1:06:32
Male 20-24 Lucas Montgomery 1:08:50
Male 25-29 Chris Depner 1:02:14
Male 30-34 Travis Vitek 1:02:47
Male 35-39 Craig Dean 1:00:02
Male 40-44 Ken Hyland 1:04:08
Male 45-49 Steve Mayer 1:03:59
Male 50-54 Greg Hoard 1:16:01
Male 55-59 Phil Anderson 1:14:46
Male 60-64 Philip Deluca 1:28:10
Male 65-69 Riley King 2:17:14
Women 11 and under Ember Stratton 1:48:44
Women 12-14 Akari Seiner 1:32:21
Women 18-19 Olivia Cook 1:30:11
Women 20-24 Rachel Lee 1:09:12
Women 25-29 Juline Walker 1:15:39
Women 30-34 Jennifer Phillips 1:20:04
Women 35-39 Yalitza Moreno 1:20:51
Women 40-44 Cory Larson 1:22:25
Women 45-49 Jayette Pettit 1:18:22
Women 50-54 Mari Hammon 1:23:11
Women 55-59 Gail Kimberling 1:23:41
women 60-64 Sharon Gerl 1:22:47

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