Race Coverage

Bears, Bees & Bonking....


By Peter Wikman

Chisago Lakes 70.3 Race Report - Yesterday (last Sunday actually) was my 3rd time competing in the Chisago Lakes half-ironman, and it was just as exciting and challenging as always. Transition was buzzing as people filed in to get their gear set up and catch up with friends and teammates they haven’t seen in a while. Chisago is one of the few local races that gives people prescribed transition slots, which may have accounted for some people sleeping-in a little, as there was still a sizeable check-in line with only 20 minutes to go until transition close. Once 7:00 rolled around however, everyone seemed to have figured it out as there was a beach full of people ready to face the challenges of what would turn out to be a humid and windy day.

The swim started right on time and had the usual chaos that wave swim starts do. We spent the first 700 yards into the wind, which meant extra hydration in the form of lake water. The way back however was extremely pleasant as things opened up and we were able to catch a bit of a wave back in. I came out of the water 3 spots down and feeling pretty happy about my swim overall. Transition 1 was smooth (other than the right sleeve of my brand-new wetsuit almost ripping off when I tried to take my arm out) and after about 2 min I was on my bike....

Passing under the tunnel and onto the bike course my legs felt surprisingly good and warmed up (usually they burn relentlessly for 20 minutes before coming around). I passed my fiancée at about mile 2, and then I was alone for the next 54 miles… Well not unless you count animals. At around mile 20 I was on a nice stretch of newly paved road and was head-down just pedaling away. Suddenly I looked up and did a double take when I noticed what I thought was a MASSIVE dogbearonroad.png standing in the road about a quarter of a mile away. As I got closer, I quickly realized it was a fully-grown black bear who was straddling the lane line and eyeing me up. I came out of aero and started to scream at it praying that it would continue on into the ditch. Thankfully as I approached, it decided I was uninteresting and slowly scampered into the trees before I reached it. With that behind me (and a new max HR being achieved), I was able to focus on the headwind and series of climbs I had in front of me. The remainder of the bike went well, with the exception of a nasty bee string underneath my helmet that almost made me fall off my bike on the steepest downhill, and I was able to come back into town with a big-time 70.3 bike PR.

Then there was the run… I had one of those days where from your first steps out of transition you can just tell it is going to be an uphill battle. Looking back now I underestimated the humidity out there and put my focus far too much on calories and not enough on hydration during the bike. The first half of the run I pushed through stomach cramps as much as I could, actually running at a pretty good clip (averaging 6:40 through mile 5). Then once I hit the turn around point for lap #2, the wheels began to fall off and I knew my energy sources were running out. I tried to glide as much as I could on the backstretch and the great positivity of the volunteers and other racers on course kept me from ever even considering walking. I came up (key word “up” here because they make you work for it at the end with sharp turns up a steep bank) to the finish line in 4th place overall to music and cheering from the great crowds Chisago always brings.

Overall it was a great day with a lot to be happy about and also lessons to pull from, especially going into Kona which will undoubtedly be MUCH hotter and windier. The race was run extremely well, the new bike and run course were a definite success and I can’t wat to return in 2023 with a lot more salt!