It’s flashback Monday. 10 years ago this past weekend, I did the Sea to Summit Triathlon. It remains my second toughest one day race in a long endurance sports career. The race predates my blog and social media, so these photos haven’t been widely shared. It was an awesome event. I wrote a little about it in 2009, and again in 2014 when I published my Toughest Ten races of all time.
Sea to Summit Triathlon, Jackson, New Hampshire, 22 July 2006, 9:29:21, Kayak 12 miles–Bike 90 miles–Road Run 4.3 miles–Trail Run 4.1 miles
It was difficult to rank the Sea to Summit Triathlon third ahead of races four and five because they were all wicked hard. However, given the fitness I had at the time, this one beats out the others. The Sea to Summit Triathlon was an 112 mile jaunt from Portsmouth, New Hampshire to Jackson, New Hampshire. The race consisted of a 12 mile kayak up the Piscataquis River to Berwick, Maine. Then, after a transition, you rode 90 miles to Jackson, New Hampshire. From there, you ran four miles uphill on Rt. 16 to Pinkham Notch. Then, you ran/hiked four and a half miles up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the summit of Mt. Washington. Only 40 people were allowed into the race. It was a special day, though I suffered dearly. I started the morning at sunrise in the pea soup fog at sea level near the mouth of the river. I finished wearing a skinsuit and a windbreaker on the top of the mountain in gale force winds blowing cold rain and sleet at 6,322 feet, the highest point in New England. If it wasn’t for my awesome crew (Debbie, Art, Mel, and Bill), I might still be out on the course. It was shorter than an Ironman, but the weather conditions, lack of organized support/aid stations, and terrain, made it tougher than any other triathlon. Bad decisions by some of the racers resulted in a challenging day for the race directors and the race hasn’t been held since. Pain Index: 10
Debbie was eight months pregnant with our son. She and I had driven up to Maine and New Hampshire a few weeks before the race to scout the course and test the kayak. I had an inferior sea kayak in 2005 when I did the three-day Jay Challenge in Vermont, which still tops my list of all time great (and tough) events. After the 2006 edition, Sea to Summit went on a multi-year hiatus and never returned in the original format. The race came back in 2015, but with a 1.5 mile swim leg instead of the 12 mile kayak. I’ll bet the kayak version was harder, since only one of my Ironman’s was tougher, and that’s just because I dug so deep. I wasn’t as fit for S2S as I would have liked, but I gutted it out.
The 2006 results are still floating around the Internet. Kudos to Erik Grimm, who holds the course record, set a few years before I did the race.