Tri the Swamp Rabbit
July 16, 2016 – Tri the Swamp Rabbit takes place on the campus of Furman University in Greenville, SC. As the name suggests, the run part of this sprint triathlon uses the Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 21-mile, shady greenway that connects Travelers Rest with Greenville, which is great news for a triathlon in July!
This is a popular triathlon due to the location and the short pool swim – only 250m. The 16 mile bike course takes you through rolling hills and all the way to Travelers Rest and back, and, different than last year, the run course is an out-and-back on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. Previous years had the run circling Swan Lake at Furman. This triathlon is extra special for FGM Marketing Exec Amy Wise as it was the first triathlon she competed in 4 years ago! FGM team members competing along with Amy included Kara Clyburn, Pamela Babbitt and Fiona Martin.
Because this tri is a pool swim, we were seeded according to the average 100yd swim time that we submitted to the race organizers beforehand. That put Fiona, Amy and Pamela starting within a minute of each other while Kara seeded herself further back in the pack. We all lined up at the pool in order of our start time.
You step up, jump in and start swimming. Each swimmer had about 10 seconds between the swimmer in front and behind them. Furman has a very small, 25 meter pool with 6 lanes. That meant that the first and last lanes had swimmers going in one direction. The middle 4 lanes you had to swim down and back, which creates a very busy, choppy and confusing pool swim. Pamela started right behind Fiona. Halfway through, she was passed by a guy who promptly stood up and started walking! Not a great thing to do while everyone is trying to race! Pamela gave him what for, and then he lunged by Fiona and kept going. Amy almost had a head-on collision, which had her shaken up all the way to T1, but everyone made it out of the pool safely and on to the bike course.
The bike course was 16 miles of rolling hills, which suited many of us who train on similar terrain. It even took us through downtown Travelers Rest, which will have given Amy and Fiona flashbacks to Mountains to Main Street (luckily not 58 miles of riding today). One of the best (or worst) parts of the bike course is the hill descent back to Furman University. Speeds of up to 40mph have been reached before taking a sharp right turn to get back to transition.
On to the run – an out-an-back with most of it on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. It was about a half a mile run through the Furman campus to get to the Swamp Rabbit Trail. There were a few athletic summer camps on campus so there were hordes of teenagers running while coaches yelled at them to “keep it up”.
It was interesting trying to dodge them during a race. Once we hit the Swamp Rabbit Trail, it was a mile uphill. The only good thing about that is once you turned around, it was a mile downhill, followed by the final half mile through campus and a little uphill finish next to the stadium.
Then we had to wait. The worst thing about a pool start is that your competitors can start very far in front or behind you and, because your time starts when you hit the water, someone could finish after you but still have a faster time. Fiona was watching the clock – before the race she was 1st in the 30-34 age group for the series standings, but two of her rivals were racing this race and close on her heels. She’d done the best she could, but was it enough to beat Jess White or Becky Arndt? Unfortunately, it wasn’t. In the 30-34 age group, the top three female finishers came in 1st, 2nd and 5th overall. Fiona came in 8th overall, which was a big improvement from last year where she came in 27thoverall. She took 4 minutes off last year’s time, but this result moved her down to 3rd in the age group series standings, at least for now. Amy had a similarly difficult age group and missed the podium by only 49 seconds! Kara saw big improvements from last year, taking 7 minutes off her time. Pamela was the shining star, securing 2nd place in her age group. Amy was happy to mark her tri-anniversary with a time 20 minutes faster than 4 years ago! It’s always great to see how far you’ve come.