Sandman Preview

I went to a classic theater in Oakland a few weeks ago to watch Jaws on the big screen. Great idea for an open water swimmer.

It was 2 days after I had registered for the Sandman Triathlon in Aptos, California (August 2).

And you know what was discovered the day before that? Fifteen great white shark pups hanging out around the Cement Ship – the focal point of the Sandman swim. You hear pups, and you may think, aw, cute, babies.


Don’t get me wrong – I love sharks. What a truly awesome animal. But I don’t really want to swim through a herd of baby great whites during this triathlon.

What a glorious swim course. Just hope the natives aren't too territorial.
What a glorious swim course. Just hope the natives aren’t too territorial.

Fortunately for me, no articles have been posted since the beginning of July about these sharks. It’s obviously quite the phenomenon – Giancarlo Thomae (a local researcher) is psyched – but I’m getting nervous.

Based on my past experiences with minor freak-outs in the ocean, there's a real chance the second shark will be me.
Based on my past experiences with minor freak-outs in the ocean, there’s a real chance the second shark will be me.

If you’re still not convinced that I do really love sharks, please check out this Nat Geo article for some gorgeous photos.


Course Preview

On top of calming myself down regarding these sharks, since Aptos is close (2 hours drive), I figured getting a sense of the bike course would be smart. The swim and the run don’t seem tricky at all – well, ok, it’s the ocean and sand, but straightforward enough – but I found getting a sense of the bike to be very helpful at Monte Rio.

Bike Report:

I cruised down Highway 17 to Aptos on a Saturday morning. The fog was light, but the weather was a gorgeous, cool 60 or so degrees. I’m definitely hoping for this kind of weather two weeks from now. Starting the preview, I made a few wrong turns or so – to be expected – but I’m glad I missed those turns. There were some steep short bursts, sharp turns, and a few bumps, but I got to get a sense of all of those variables.

The course is set up from the ocean, into the hills, and back. Essentially a climb up the grade, and the a nice cruise on the back end. There are some short climbs on the back half, so I’ll need to be prepared for that. I do feel much more comfortable on the climbs than the descent, so hopefully I’ll be keeping up with the pack and passing them on the hills.

One road could use a nice sweeping before the race. The shoulder was a mess, so hopefully at least that road will be partially closed and I’ll be able to stay in the actual lane. And, just before the transition area, there’s a steep downhill. I’m hoping the race organizer addresses this during the pre-race meeting, because I’m picturing some people bombing down that hill without the ability to stop as they approach transition. I don’t want to get run over or run down, and I certainly don’t want to crash. I’m definitely a little nervous for that downhill! But also definitely more excited now that I know the course. I’m ready to race!

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