By Ray Stern
Jumping into the Tempe Town lake at 7 a.m. this morning wasn't the worst part of Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman's media challenge race.
The worst part was getting passed by the mayor on the third leg of the event, a .26-mile run.
(That's the mayor at left in an Arizona Republic photo from last year's event. He covered up all that manly chest hair this year with a racing-style tank top).
Hallman held similar small-scale, charity triathlons with the media in 2006 and 2007 to help preview Tempe's annual Ironman event , which kicks off this Sunday. I'm still not sure why I signed up for this jump-in-the-lake, et al, though it's true I had delusions of grandeur that maybe I'd come in first place and win a $1,000 check for the charity of my choice. Mostly, it just seemed like fun.
It was a helluva sprint. The lakewater was about 62 degrees, slightly warmer than the air. It felt good to my bare feet for about a half a minute as I walked in lake muck down a boat ramp with the other seven or eight competitors. I made good time on the ultra-short swim (everything was 1/100th of an Ironman) but was somewhat dazed by the effort and the cold as I struggled to shove my wet feet into my running shoes. For sure, I found a new admiration for the nutbars who are going to swim 2.4 miles in the lake this weekend. (Most, if not all, will wear wetsuits).
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The bike part came next -- 1.1 miles. I saw the mayor and his coach pedaling ahead of me on the bike path and slunk by them before the turnaround point.
The decent lead on Hallman faded soon after I dropped my bike and started running. My legs felt like over-microwaved asparagus shoots. I heard footsteps crunching on the dirt path behind me. Then the mayor was at my side, and pulling ahead. Nothing I could do about it. But I did meet my three goals: Have a good time, don't be last, and don't get injured.
Tim Hacker, a photographer with the East Valley Tribune, took first place and said he would donate his $1,000 to the Arizona Heart Institute. I was feeling good about not being last until I saw that the guy who was last, Dino Stathakis of the College Times, got a check for his charity, too. As usual, it doesn't pay to be just average.
Well, there's always next year. Or not.