UCLA Ironbruin 2014
by Kent Kubo
Hearing these words on the news Thursday was dreadful. I had heard the UCLA bike course was adequately hilly, technical and bike crashes were common, and now I had to worry about the rain! With cycling being my weakest leg in the sport of triathlon, I was very worried. Plus, I was assigned to stay at a house filled with graduate students, and being merely a freshman, I felt that I was going to be a bit out of place…
However, the weekend turned out great! Staying at Kyle Begovich’s household was like a Five-Star hotel and everything was so nice! So before I forget, a quick thank you to the Begovich parents for letting us stay at your beautiful home and for providing cheese/crackers, fruits and snacks. Oh and I forgot to mention, the best dinner ever, including tender steak, penne pasta, and salad! Additionally, thank you to Grandma Begovitch for cooking us chicken and crepes! Yeah, that’s right, crepes! That was probably one of the best dinners I have ever had, and the dinner conversations were hilarious with the awkward couple arguments between Kat and Craig stopped by “Not” Bill! I realized that grad-students weren’t as scary as I thought they would be and I was welcomed into their conversations as the night carried on. In fact, being able to eat dinner with an All-American Swimmer from Carnegie Mellon, and an Ironman that studies in Antarctica was an honor! Best part of the night by far was the fact that I didn’t have to sleep on the ground! Originally one person had to sleep on the ground, but I lucked out, as Not-Bill brought a blow-up air mattress and so everyone got to sleep comfortably on a couch/bed/air-mattress. Saturday night was great and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the night before a race.
Sunday morning, our alarms went off at 4:15 sharp, and everyone was up and eating breakfast by 4:30 (thank you again Begovich parents for the fruit/bagels). We all left by 4:45 and with a 30min drive we were back at UCLA for the race. Luckily it hadn’t rained and didn’t look like it was going to rain for the next couple hours. Fingers crossed, knock on wood, looking on the sunny side….
The UCLA triathlon course was a bit different in the sense that they had different transitions spots for T1/T2 whereas Tritonman and UCI both had transition spots at the same place. Separating the two transition positions was a huge hill, so setting up my stuff was a good enough warm up after going up and down the hill several times. I finally got everything ready and headed over to the warm up pool, well more like a jacuzzi, and started my warm-up. Everyone was looking snazzy in their new team uniforms by Champion System. As 7:00 am rolled along, we got together for the team cheer (pretty dope by the way Dan) and the race started. All-American swimmer from Carnegie Mellon jumped into the pool 9th, followed closely by UCSD Swim team Alumnus, and the cheering for UCSD began. Unfortunately I heard that it turned into some screaming after someone flipped turned and swam back in the same lane as they came on their first lap (cough cough President Bryce). Either way most people seemed happy as the swim was a one way lane swim which made passing people much easier.
Now came the scary part…the bike. Luckily it wasn’t raining at all, but the ground was still wet from the previous night and athletes were encouraged to slow down on turns. Unfortunately, for some it wasn’t in the triathlete blood to slow down and they paid the consequences. During that 12 mile bike course I saw a depressing number of downed athletes; people didn’t slow down enough on the sharp turns and couldn’t make the turn. In fact on my third lap I saw a girl slip on the turn by Bruin Plaza and slide into a bush…A teammate also later told me that he saw someone crash and crack their helmet…I’m thankful that no one on the team was majorly injured.
Run course was a simple loop through the stunning UCLA campus. A bit slippery on the grass parts but running on concrete was fine. However, it was great to see our team congregate about 150m from the finish line to cheer on people as we finished! I noticed that other teams just waited for others to finish at the finish line, but we cheered every last teammate to the end! Triton Pride!!
After a good 2 hour wait which felt like 20 hours, the final results were posted and the awards ceremony started. (Congrats to Esther for finishing second place overall in the women’s field!) But that wait was worth it since we were able to take a whole bunch of free food home with us. I’m pretty sure we took three whole boxes of sea weed for the ride home, a bunch of powerbar stuff, and bags upon bags of beef jerky. I remember Chris saying, “Yeah UCLA is somehow the race where we stock up on food”. In the end we stocked up on food for the ride home, met up again at Corners Bakery for a quick team breakfast, and then departed back to San Diego. It was one busy weekend but I’m glad I got to know the team better and hopefully we’ll carry over our hard training to Conference!