First ITU World Cup – Tongyeong, South Korea

October 30th, 2015

ITU World Cup Tongyeong – #76

Even though I was reluctant to move to Korea, so far I have been able to take advantage of some really good opportunities.  It was only a few weeks ago that I participated in the Military World Games, and this weekend, I participated in my first ITU World Cup in the city of Tongyeong. I almost did not make the starting list, since I was originally on the waiting list with my lack of ITU points. A few days before the race, I got the call (email, but the former sounds cooler) that a few athletes dropped off. Although it has been rare in ITU this year to have a starting list to full capacity, I made the last spot on the starting list, 76. Really there are 75 athletes, but the number 13 is left out because of its luck factor.

Bullet Train

Not as hard as you would think, but getting there was an experience in itself. Korea has done a great job with their public transportation system. From Yongsan military base, I took a shuttle to Seoul Station. From there I caught a bullet train to Busan.  Once I got there, I hoped on the subway to get to the Busan airport were I caught an athlete shuttle to race hotel in Tongyeong.  Finally, my journey ended with a taxi to my hotel across the bay to meet up with my friend, Michael Lori, from Canada.

Michael and I

I was glad we were staying across the bay. There is always an anxious atmosphere created by the completive nature of athletes leading up to a race.  I have my own tendencies but have gotten better to just relax and stay cool. Plus, we were closer to better places to eat and the pool. It was Michael’s first triathlon in a while since breaking his scapula.  Though, you would have never known by how well his race went. In the morning, I went for a short run, ate my breakfast and drank my tea.  We headed out to the race site on our bikes about an hour before the start of the race.  I stopped at a coffee shop on the way to get a shot of espresso and met back up with Michael in transition before athlete introductions.

Pontoon for swim start

I got off to a great start but there were a lot of fast swimmers. Usually in a continental cup, a third of the swimmers are really fast, but in a world cup you have over three-fourths. Which means that you either can swim fast, or you don’t have many people to work with on the bike.  After about 500 meters, I was dropped from the back of the main swim pack and found myself alone.  Exiting onto the pontoon to dive back in, I could see the main swim packs just pulling far away.  As in any swim when I find myself in this situation, I just don’t panic and swim as hard and efficient as I can. After the second lap, I exited transition with a couple of guys trailing 15 seconds back and we blistered out of transition to catch as many stragglers as we could.

A lot of time to make up!

Eventually over the rolling bike course, our group grew to six people.  We did okay as a group but as always with people from different backgrounds and experiences, we worked inefficiently. There was always the Belgium who pulled away on the uphill and then sprinted downhill without us. One of the athletes from Taipei pulled way to long, breaking up the rotation. Lastly, there was a couple of guys who did not do any work at all.  That leaves me, the perfect one. Well, except for crashing my bike on the second to last lap.  Not so much a bike handling error as it was a mechanical error.  Upon cresting the hill and working hard to catch the Belgium who had pulled away again, I heard and felt what I thought was a dropped chain.  I was suddenly sliding sideways from an off balance, generated by the loss of power on the pedal.

Bike is in good working condition now…

Luckily, I did not fall too hard. I grabbed my bike to jump back on but only to find part of my bike not raising with the rest of it. My chain had snapped, lying on the road and letting me know there was recovering from incident. I was surprised looking back now, but I was not that upset. I think I just quickly came to the conclusion that I had given it a shot. I was not finishing because I was lapped or not racing well, but from something that was out of my control.  The chain had only 6 months of use and was lubed well.  I was unable to get a recovery to transition, so I had to walk and coast my bike back to transition.  Good thing I was at the top of the hill. From there, I imminently made myself useful and cheered for the rest of team USA and other friends. Michael ended up coming off the bike in second and had a solid first half of his run but eventually faded to 21st. The standout American was Gregory Billington, who finished 5th overall, edging out a Mexican in a sprint finish.

Is there anything missing here?

After the race, I got my chain replaced and met back up with Michael. Later that evening we went with a couple of French athletes to the top of the mountain on a lift. The next day, we went for a great ride around the island and then caught a bus back to Seoul.  Only major tasks this week was being able to finally move into my apartment in Seoul.  No more hotel rooms with bad mattresses, just in time for a few good night’s rest on my own bed before my last race of the season in Hong Kong.  Another ITU race but this time half the distance (sprint).

Not much to think about…

I am fortunate to have my health and honored to represent the US Army, Armed Forces Sports and race again for the US Military Elite Triathlon Team, part of US Military Endurance Sports. Racing and training is effortless and made possible by the following USMES sponsors:  Boeing,  Snapple,  Scott,  SRAMPrimalOsmo NutritionHoney StingerZipp,HeadsweatsRudy ProjectsXterra Wetsuits ProGold BikingKlean AthleteClever Training, and Schwalbe. I’m thankful to be serviced by and involved with my local bike shop, Jack and Adams Bikes. Team Sterghos also includes VasaSable Water Optics and Total Immersion. I’m coached and trained by Tim Crowley of TC2 coaching. I eat and promote a plant-based diet for maximum nutrition, performance and recovery. I also promote the pursuit of living and relationships—be true to yourself and live life with others.

Before the lift to the top of the mountain

Top of the Mountain

New apartment in Seoul – living room

Apartment view of the Han River – living room


View from apartment – office