Posted at: 08/26/2013 8:25 PM
Updated at: 08/29/2013 12:38 AM
By: Laura Kennedy
Before the sun rose over the lift bridge on Sunday morning, hundreds of competitors loaded onto a Vista Fleet boat to begin the Superior Man Triathlon's 70-mile trek.
First, a jump into frigid Lake Superior for a 1.2 mile swim. There's no easing into this race, according to Executive Director Clint Agar.
"There are a lot of waves that create a certain amount of challenge, some currents, and the overall coldness of the water makes it a little harder," Agar said.
Sean Cooley of Grand Forks said it was difficult, but in a way, refreshing.
"It was kind of like a washing machine out there," Cooley said. "It's such a cool swim though. You get out there and it's just ice cold water. About 200 meters into it you're really starting to feel good."
The cold water was nothing compared to the heat and humidity that started attacking racers on the 56 mile bike ride. Hydration became critical.
"The bike is such a crucial portion of it because you have all your water and your nutrition with you on the bike and you really have to prepare for the run," Cooley said.
Temperatures topped ninety degrees as competitors set out on the final leg of the race, a half marathon run. Even experienced triathletes like Thomas Morgan struggled at times.
"You got off the bike and it was just a steam oven from mile one. It was tough. You gotta take water, ice, Gatorade at every aid station if you want to survive it," Morgan said. "Usually the last couple miles you can pick it up and go fast. I had to walk a little bit. I was just thrashed."
Cooley won the race for the second straight year and says making it to the finish in Bayfront was a relief.
"When I crossed the line, I went and had to lay down for a little bit and put some ice on me," Cooley said. "That helped quite a bit. I was really delirious there for a little bit."
The sun beat down and the air was thick. But these triathletes embrace adversity, and still consider the Superior Man race one of the best in the midwest.
"That's why people come out. They're not doing it because it's easy," Agar said.