Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Jurgen's Helmet

Ten years ago my wife and I attended a triathlon camp in San Diego. A week from now, I leave for my next organized camp, Epic camp, in New Zealand. Above is a photo of me doing quarters on the track with Jurgen Zack. I think we did 10 or 12 quarters in 70 seconds or better. It was a pretty good workout for February. Every year I watched Zack get run down in the Hawaii Ironman on TV. I was very surprised how fast the guy really was. After he was through with me, he smoked Kenny Souza with a sub 60 second quarter.

The camp we attended was in Solano Beach, a coastal community on the Pacific Coast Highway. Paul Huddle, Roch Frey, Paula Newby Fraser and John Howard ran the camp. Pro triathletes like Zack, Wendy Ingram, Heather Feur, Kenny Souza, and Mike Pigg were their elite ambassadors. Danny Abishire, who later invented of Newton Running shoes, provided running analysis.

I had good time training with Pigg, who at the time was one of the premier short course athletes. He showed me the correct way to warm up for a short course event. We time trialed our bikes up PCH. Mike and I would also compete with each other to see who could swim the length of the pool with the fewest strokes.

Dana and I found the triathlete community in San Diego to be much like our own back in Tulsa, where everyone knew everyone else, and knew what the other triathletes were up to. But of course, these athletes were much faster and famous in the triathlon world.

Perhaps the most fun we had was at the Competitor Magazine Endurance Sports Awards held at Sea World in San Diego. These awards are the Academy Awards of endurance sports. Athletes came dressed in tuxedos and arrived in limousines. Anybody who was famous in endurance sports was there. We had the distinction of sitting at the one of Triathlete Magazines VIP tables at the front of the action with John Duke, the editor of Triathlete magazine.

There was one guy in our group that was out of control. He was an Army Ranger and when I saw Huddle last summer at IM Canada and reminisced about the camp he still remembered his name. He said “some campers you never forget”. I will just call him “Steve” to tell the story.

Alcohol was served at the party along with dinner and Steve put away the booze like a Special Forces captain. Once dinner was finished the awards portion of the program began. Steve, I, and a few others were at the bar. Zack was awarded a competitor award and he made his way to the stage.

In the 1997 Hawaii Ironman, Zack came into T1 with a great swim, however, his chin strap buckle was broken and he frantically began yelling….Helmet, HELMET, HELMET. This was captured on the NBC coverage which made for exciting television. The race was leaving Zack behind. This was a moment I’m sure he wanted to forget.

Jurgen, dressed in a tux and looking quite dapper, started in on his acceptance speech. Then from out of the blue Steve started heckling him……Helmet, HELMET, HELMET. It was funny and everyone started to laugh, as the Ironman coverage was still fresh in everyone’s mind. However, Jurgen started to stutter and became quite uneasy as he went on with the speech. Steve on the other hand continued with the heckling and Jurgen continued to stutter. I and a few others nudged Steve and finally got him to quit. The show was televised on a local cable channel so who knows how it turned out.

By the end of the awards, a party started to roll and before you knew it Steve was up on top of a table dancing with some hottie wearing a slinky mini dress. I saw Bob Babbitt who was the emcee come over and ask John Duke” who is this guy?” The party was totally out of control and Steve single handedly started it. It reminds me of the movie “Wedding Crashers”. I thought this is probably the last time they take a group of tricampers to this thing again.

I doubt Epic Camp will be this wild, and I doubt anyone will have the energy that Steve had. There has been some banter back and forth on the message boards regarding the “Yellow Jersey”. I can tell some of the folks have some personality. I might try to blog some of it but if I do, it will be short and sweet.

1 comment:

Rainmaker said...

Have an awesome trip! And take lots of photos!