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Article added Friday, October 6, 2000 -- Colonial Beach, VA
Course Records Shattered at Odyssey Triple and Double IRON Triathlons
Friday, September 15 - Sunday, September 17, 2000
Article by Dawn Taylor

Swim Start
Race director Don Mann starts the race
After 7.2 miles of swimming, 336 miles of biking, and 78.6 miles of running, Triple IRON competitor Chris Bergland asked if it was normal to feel a little "light headed." While most people would agree that there is nothing "normal" about racing these distances, Chris was assured by race organizers and medical staff that the dizziness in his head and the tingling in his toes were typical. Then, in a performance, race director Don Mann called "the most amazing athletic accomplishment" he has ever seen, Chris completed the remaining 8.6 miles of the run to crush the course record in an astonishing 38 hours 46 minutes; 10 hours less than it took last year's winner, "Chet the Jet" Blanton. Remarkable also, is the fact that while his fellow competitors have spent months, if not years, hitting the pavement, so to speak, Chris does 90% of his race training indoors using treadmills and wind trainers at his New York City gym.

13.1 miles for the Half IRON runners
Coming in second place in the Triple IRON, which was held over the September 16 weekend, was Frenchman Francois Le Sellier of Washington DC. Francois, an experienced adventure racer, was competing in his second triathlon ever. He said since he never "does this kind of stuff" he had no idea how long it would take him to complete the Triple. He also beat the course record with a time of 40:53. His race strategy consisted of trying to catch up to Chris, who managed to keep the distance between them to one lap. Chris and Francois maintained a friendly competition often joking and smiling as they crossed paths on the 1-mile out-and-back run course. Third place finisher, Ross Galitsky, finishing in 42:34, kept the heat on Francois pushing him forward even when leg pains caused him to slow. There were seven international Triple IRON competitors, including first-time ultra triathlete, Nick Crutch from the UK, whose ultra-supportive girlfriend, Helena, ran 47 of the 78.6 miles with him. Of the six TRIPLE competitors, six successfully completed this exponentially difficult race.

Running concurrently with Odyssey's Triple IRON competition was the also daunting Double IRON in which competitors from 6 different countries swam 4.8 miles, biked 224 miles and ran 52.4 miles. Double athletes who chose the non-traditional paddling option rather than the swim had to stop short of the 15-mile course due to high winds and large swells on the Potomac River.

A colorful sunrise and a spectacular orange harvest moon rose over the Potomac River as racers completed their run along the shore. Christoph Eggenberger from Switzerland stared at the moon and it's twin reflection on the water, as he started the run and said in his sparse English, "I am happy." Within hours he would be elated, as he finished second after Double IRON winner Matthias Michl from Germany, with a time of 23:44 minutes.

Matthias, the 2-time Lithuanian Double-IRON defending World Champion and world-class jokester finished in 23:40 breaking the Double course record by 1- hours. Third place overall finisher, German Astrid Benohr never broke stride or expression as she methodically ticked off the miles to also become the only female finisher in this race. Astrid also holds the world record for the fastest female Double IRON time.

Bozeman Crosses the finish line
Steve Bozeman makes it an even dozen!
Eleven of the eighteen Double competitors finished, including Steve Bozeman from Virginia who continues to hold the world record for the most Double IRON finishes with 12 races to his credit. Steve finished the race 8th overall in his traditional color-guard manner with several supporters waving American, Marine, POW, and Virginian flags as they ran the final lap. Other colorful finishers were Aldorock Calandro from Italy, who won the hearts of spectators as he ran shouting "peace and love" during the race. Aldo also shared philosophy and good humor as he ran beside other competitors like Steve Platt from Washington DC who was accompanied by a very enthusiastic support crew -- "Team Splatt!" As Steve finished with a full entourage of champagne-spraying accomplices, he was asked what his favorite part of the race was. "Right here" he said honestly, pointing to the finish line.

The Double was literally a long stretch for sprint-distance runner, Darrell Wargo, who successfully finished his first ultra-Tri in 35 hours. At the finish line, Darrell said, "I never thought I could swim that much, or ride that far, or run that that long. I did them all at one time!" Unfortunately not without the personal expense of badly blistered and bleeding feet. Darrell however did take a novel approach to fueling up during the race. After passing by a local restaurant several times on the bike laps, Darrell stopped for a seafood dinner saying it "smelled so good I couldn't ride by one more time without eating."

Half Swim Start
Start of the Half IRON Triathlon
In addition to the Double and Triple IRON races, Odyssey and the Town of Colonial Beach hosted a Half IRON triathlon with 140 competitors who swam 1.2 miles (or paddled 4 miles), biked 56 miles and ran 13.1 miles. Allen Hurd finished first overall with a time of 4:04:16; followed by Mitchell Gold at 4:07:24; and coming in third was Justin Neviackas at 4:07:44. Special honors went to Marge Stahl, age 70, who came in at 8:48. Marge also competed in Nationals the week prior to the Half IRON and persevered with a possible broken shoulder during the 1.2-mile Potomac River swim.

Half IRON competitors biking the 'false flats'
While Half IRON swimmers and all kayakers raced in the Potomac, Double and Triple competitors swam laps in a 33.3-foot pool at nearby Dahlgren Navy Base - that was 190 laps for Triples and 126.5 for Doubles. The bike was an out-and-back course along mostly rural roads with "false flats" as termed by Double competitor, Stephen Johnson from Canada. Stephen was referring to the unassuming difficulty of this "flat to gently rolling" course. The scenic and breezy run course paralleled the Potomac shoreline.

At the Double and Triple IRON awards dinner, racers shared camaraderie, reminisced about past competitions and looked forward to upcoming races. Talking about the organization that made the event possible, Ross Galitsky, said, "Don Mann is not a race director. Race directors collect money and put on races. Don Mann really cares about us as racers and you can tell he feels emotional about what he is doing." He added that, "This is a very functional family after the race." Referring to the group of ultra-racers; many who've competed against each other for years, as well as the newcomers like first-timer Darrell Wargo. Double competitor Matthias Michl said, "You are what this sport is all about," pointing to Darrell who had just left the course an hour before.

A question asked by many spectators over the weekend was, "Why do they do it?" Double finisher Iro Hermann from Germany replied, "The pain goes through, but the pride is forever." Italian Aldorock answered, "Because it is the sense of my life. It is about emotion. Without emotion in life, you have nothing." When Aldo was asked what it felt like to be out there for so many hours and so many miles, he smiled whimsically and said, "I looked good and I smiled, but inside it was crocodiles, piranhas and jellyfish." Odyssey is accepting entries into next year's races for those who want to experience the same.

To find out more about these races and all of Odyssey's other events, visit www.BeastOfTheEAST.com; write oarinfo@aol.com or call 757-425-2445.

Odyssey Adventure Racing, Inc. is a unique race-promotion organization that specializes in premier ultra-distance and extreme sporting events. Our mission is to create and produce competitive experiences that provide athletes with mental and physical challenges not found in more traditional sports. We strive to attract adventurous individuals who are eager to escape their ordinary routines through bold and daring endurance competitions. Unlike race organizations that focus on one discipline or sport, Odyssey creates and promotes events that cover a wide spectrum of endurance sports from triathlons to multi-day adventure races.