On September 11, 2016 I participated in the Come Clean Duathlon in Haslett, Michigan. This was the third year for this event (my first) and it was to promote lessening our carbon footprint on the global world and embracing alternate forms of getting from one place to another. It took place at Lake Lansing Park. There were approximately 227 people participating. This was an increase in the number of last year that was 207!
There was a very diverse population. Newbies, speedsters, cruiser bikes and bikes worth more than my car. But I must say that the event was VERY well put on and the people participating were all so supportive of each other.
After a moment of silence to recognize the 15th year of 9/11, and the signing of the National Anthem, we were all separated into waves. “Elite” Men, “Elite” Women, and…..everyone else. So, I made my way to the back 🙂 The course was a 1.4 mile run, 12.4 mile bike and a 3.2 mile run. The course was laid out very well. The only thing is that the bike course was stated to be “mostly flat”. I think “flat, but the hills that there are long drawn climbs”. But, again, here is me on a mountain bike with road tires, so….. some expected work that needs to be done.
I took my time on the 1st run. As a matter of fact, by the time I was at the .25 mile mark, the first “elite” male was only .25 from finishing the first run! But, I was not in this to podium or even age group. I wanted to finish and stay on top of doing these events and getting more used to them. That being said, I made good conversation with the lady on the trike bike who was the sweeper to let officials know of the “end” of racers. We joked about the road signs that said “Loose Stone” and how someone went around and put an “R” at the end of stone on almost every one of the signs. Talked about the weather (it was a perfect day) and how lucky we were it was not the day before where it rained and stormed like crazy!
I made it back to transition and started on the bike course. I was last and there was one girl ahead of me. I stayed right behind her until the turnaround and then passed. I actually got to say, “on your left” as I passed a biker. This was a first for me! It was kind of exciting! Anywho, as per usual, the second half of the bike was easier and seemed shorter than the first. But I made it in, my legs like jello, and went on the last run leg. Met up with my lady on the trike again. The run was nice through the neighborhood. EXCELLENT aid station kids and even people in the neighborhood watching.
At the aid station they were waiting for me. I jokingly told them, “Ok, it’s official, you can pack it up. I’m the last one….” and smiled. They were still quite supportive. Trike lady ad I watched a black and white cat come off its porch to come say “hi” to the girls volunteering along the course. I told them he obviously thought they were bored, and took advantage that they might want to pet him.
Then at about .75 miles left, a cop car joined my line. So me, trike lady and cop dude were just going along at my sloth pace. I asked if they wanted to conga while we were going along. Yeah, it would be a little harder for them given their modes of transportation, but hey, whatever. Then I told them that I was just going to pretend that I was in first place, so far ahead no one was behind me, and they were my support crew….they agreed that was a good way to think about things.
As I hit the end there was most of the participants still there. Lots of cheering. I actually got to hear my name over the mike as I crossed the finish (I usually have my headphones blaring). I crossed, bowed and got my medal. I had finished. Dead last, but I had finished none the less.
I went in to transition, got my bike and went to grab snacks. They were starting the awards ceremony. I joked to my husband and said, “so nice of them to wait for me to get done before the awards!” I came back to him with my snacks. They announced the overall male and female winners. These people were across the finish before I was halfway done with the bike. Geesh! We got stuff together to leave when an announcement was made that went something like this:
“We would like to take this moment to present a special award. In the spirit of the Tour de France, we would like to start a tradition of the Red Lantern Award presented to the last place finisher and to celebrate their determination and perseverance.”
I looked at Ron and his eyes were huge and his mouth open. Then they announced my name. I was shocked. I have only ever received the medals all finishers are given in all my races. I have never been singled out for my mediocrity. Everyone in the crowd was cheering as I went up to the stage. I was handed a beautiful steel tealight candle holder. It was gorgeous and one of a kind. I was in tears. And even after all the other awards were given, I got so much praise from the other participants. People wanted to know my story. People wanted congratulate me. It was a very special race.
In the end, I enjoyed being last, even before the award. I still hate the bike portion of triathlons and duathlons, but that may change with a bike upgrade. I had good company (thanks trike lady) and course support was wonderful! And I got a free 20 minute deep tissue massage after-BONUS!