The Storm the Fort sprint and half (approx. 70.3) iron distance triathlon races took place on Saturday, August 26th, 2017 in Kingston, Tennessee. I competed in the half with two friends, Brenda Herrington and Stephanie Critchfield. My wife Susan and Brenda's hubby Mark came with us for support. This was the first triathlon I've done in years. All three of us registered for the half as a fitness check race for the full Ironman we're doing in Panama City Beach, Florida on November. 4th.
This was the 7th year for the Storm the Fort sprint and the 4th year for the half. The inaugural year of the race being in 2011 for the sprint. The first year of the half was in 2014. Those are the first years I could find for race results anyway. Even in 2016 these were small races but, those are some of the best races. The fact that Ironman branded races cost significantly more should, in my opinion, boost the appeal of races like Storm the Fort, and create an environment for competing races to grow in participation. I registered in late June for $140. Folks that registered on the day before the race only paid $180.
Brenda and Mark arrived in Kingston on Thursday. Susan, Stephanie and I arrived on Friday to the luxurious accommodations of the Super 8 hotel in Kingston. The Super 8 hotel was clean, inexpensive, and close to the event start. Brenda was kind enough to pick up our race packets on Thursday. Kingston is about a 4 hour drive north up I-75 for us from Atlanta's southside. That 4 hour drive north meant cooler temperatures and, on this weekend, lower humidity. They were perfect conditions for a race.
|Atlanta Traffic as we headed north to Kingston, TN|
|Brenda, Mark, Jason (on FaceTime), Stephanie, and Susan at the Super 8 Hotel in Kingston, TN|
|The Kingston, TN weather forecast at 4:42 AM|
|The hourly forecast on race day|
|The forecast back home was 13-degrees hotter|
|A McDonald's Egg McMuffin for breakfast|
|Brenda and Stephanie at transition|
|Brenda, me, and Stephanie|
|Susan and Mark looking forward to a long day of schlepping around Kingston|
It was hot later in the day but Susan and Mark were good troopers and cheered us on as much as they could.
|My transition area|
|The transition area looking east|
|The transition area looking west toward the swim exit ramp|
|Stephanie, me, and Brenda before the swim start|
The half distance swimmers started in 3 waves; men 39 and younger, men 40 and older, and women and relay teams. The advertised start times were 7:35, 7:38 and 7:41 for the half. The sprinters started before the half. We pretty much started on-time. Both races started with a single cannon shot from a baby cannon.
|The swim start dock for the 3 waves of the half|
In addition to safety personnel in kayaks that you would expect, there was also a Coast Guard boat between the course and the larger part of the river. The Coast Guard boat had his blue lights on for the duration of the swim segment.
|Swimmers in the water|
|Me exiting the water going into T-1|
|Brenda exiting the water|
|Stephanie exiting the water|
I had an idea that the my swim pace was so good because there might be some sort of a whirlpool or vortex caused by the river's current. The river flows east to west so swimmers closer to the main channel should swim faster with the current. Swimmers nearer the shore, swimming west to east, might get a boost for a circular eddy. It's just a thought!
|Me exiting T-1 with a mouth full of Clif bar|
|Me fumbling around trying to get on my bike|
|Brenda exiting T-1|
|Stephanie exiting T-1|
Brenda beat me to the bike turn-around on Dry Fork Valley Road by about a minute. I saw Stephanie on Ten Mile Road on my way back. She was only a few minutes behind me. The only place where there might have been reason for caution was at the intersection of Ten Mile Road and TN-58. Volunteers were posted there but I heard later that someone was almost hit by a vehicle that didn't stop. Other than that, all major intersections were supported with police presence. Even though the bike course was not closed I never felt unsafe.
The bike course is hilly but the downhills are nothing like I experienced during the Cheaha Challenge in May. It's just a scenic ride though the country on some rollers. The pavement is smooth except for a brief section on Ten Mile Road where it's pretty rough. Potholes were virtually non-existent.
Somewhere around the 30 to 40 mile point on the bike my glutes started giving me fits. I was averaging just over 20-mph at that point. After that I saw my speed plummet.
|Bike segment splits|
|Me entering T-2|
Race timing showed Brenda's T-1 at 1:30, me at 1:34 and Stephanie at 2:14.
Brenda was already well into her run when I entered T-2. I started the run with gusto, painful glutes and all. The first few miles went well for me considering the pain I was in. Fortunately, I had adjusted my bike's handlebar extensions up slightly which made my shoulders feel more relaxed than they were the last time I had my bike out on the road. I was glad to have only one part of my body, my glutes, in pain at a time.
The run course was two figure 8s, mostly along the river's edge, with the transition area in the center, the city of Kingston and Roane County High School football field on one end and Fort Southwest Point on the other. There were plenty of aid stations stocked with pickle juice, Gatorade, cold water, and some has GU, salt tablets, orange slices, and flat coke. I partook in all of them to the point that when I ran I could feel the fluid slosh around in my belly.
|Run segment splits|
My Garmin showed my run time as 2:06:17 which is a 10:16 pace. Brenda's run time was 1:50:13 which is an 8:49 pace, per her Garmin. Brenda, me, and Stephanie had race timing run finish times of 1:51:05, 2:06:15, and 2:12:43, respectively.
|Brenda on the run course|
|Brenda at the finish|
|Me at the finish|
|Stephanie at the finish|
Race Timing Results
Brenda Herrington 48 F (S)33:20 (T1) 2:32 (B)2:37:05 (T2)1:30 (R)1:51:05 - Finish: 5:05:30
Neil Farmer 56 M (S)35:03 (T1)2:53 (B)2:50:22 (T2)1:34 (R)2:06:15 - Finish: 5:36:05
Stephanie Critchfield 39 F (S)44:44 (T1)3:07 (B)3:48:55 (T2)2:14 (R)2:12:43 - Finish: 6:03:52
Before the awards presentation the fort's cannon was ceremonially fired.
|Brenda on the podium - 1st Female Overall|
|Stephanie on the podium - 2nd Place|
|Me on the podium - 3rd Place|
|1st (overall female), 2nd (F35-39), and 3rd (M55-59)|
The overall results list for the half.
After the race, they had pizza and more cold drinks for the participants. We had a piece of pizza but later went to the Smokehouse Bar n Grill for a bite to eat before heading back to Atlanta.
|Socks, bib, etc.|
|Storm the Fort finisher's medal|
|T-shirt front artwork|
|T-shirt back artwork|
|My 3rd place award|
The Storm the Fort triathlon is a fun little race. It doesn't have all the pomp and circumstance of an Ironman branded event but that's not the kind of race it is. It's a small race in a nice little city in the country. The distances for the bike and run segments might have been a little bit short too. That doesn't matter to me because everyone had to complete the same route - if it's short for me then it's short for everybody else too. The half distance race had 93 finishers. There were 124 finishers in the sprint race. I can't speak for everyone but I thought it was a great race!
As we prepared for our race and enjoyed perfect weather in Kingston the residents on Houston, Texas and the region were being hit by Hurricane Harvey.
|Hurricane Harvey floods the Texas coast|
Thanks for reading.