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Summer 2002

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The City of Los Angeles Triathlon

Team iFlyLAX.com powers through the City of Los Angeles Triathlon
story and photos by James Reilly
September 9, 2002

To read a new story about the 2003 race (as a solo competitor), CLICK HERE

To read part 1 of this story (pre-race), CLICK HERE

Race Number 3100The early morning sky is clear and the air is crisp on Sunday, September 8th at 6:00 A.M. as I arrive at the south Venice Beach parking lot adjacent to the beachside bike path, which has been converted into "T1" (Transition Area 1). There, hundreds of metal bike racks will hold thousands of racing bicycles. After finding a slot in which to place my own carbon-fiber framed 'Trek' road racing cycle (similar to the one Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong rides), I walk out onto the sand near the Venice Beach pier to the race starting line, from where over 3000 swimmers will race into the ocean for their 1500 meter swim, the first "leg" of the 3rd Annual City of Los Angeles Triathlon.

Swim start on Venice BeachYes, this is Triathlon and most of the swimmers who enter and exit the ocean at Venice Beach will strip off their wetsuits (those who chose to wear one), then hurry to find their own bicycle, exit the transition area, mount up and begin an all-out effort -- leg 2: a twenty-four and a-half mile bike race all the way to downtown Los Angeles.

There are 'relay' teams participating in the L.A. Triathlon, too. Team iFlyLAX.com has divided up the swim-bike-run duties between three athletes: swimmer Gina Greco, cyclist James Reilly (this reporter), and runner Johnny Hossell. I must admit, upon seeing the thousands of "multi-sport" atheletes assembled at the start area who would race all three legs of this event, I felt a bit wimpy even though this day would be the culmination of months of personal training; and a true test of my strength and cycling abilities as I played my part and pedaled my way through the streets of Los Angeles, knowing that our team runner was anxiously awaiting my arrival at "T2" next to L.A. City Hall. There he would take the 'baton' and begin his run up to Dodger Stadium and back to historic Olvera Street across from Union Station.

Author James Reilly riding for Team iFlyLAX.comOn the beach I found my swimmer, but we had a problem -- Gina had eaten something the previous night that was not agreeing with her this morning. But when an athlete is part of a relay team, opting out is not an option! So she pulled herself up by her figurative bootstraps (with a little "gentle" coaxing from your's truly), donned her cap and swim goggles, and dragged herself to the sandy starting line. The cool ocean must have snapped her out of it, because she put in a respectable swim and ran to my position at the transition zone bike rack, made the 'tag' and sent me on my way.

Now, under normal circumstances I would not attempt a solo bike ride through the middle of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and Hollywood to downtown. But with city streets roped-off and countless members of the L.A.P.D. and L.A. Traffic Control officers protecting the athletes right-of-way, the bike portion of the triathlon alone was worth the experience. Auto traffic was not an issue as I put my bike, my legs and my heart into high gear and power-pedaled through the streets of Los Angeles, all the way cheered on by brand new race fans ranging from friends and family members to undocumented alien day-laborers and street people.

After nearly twenty-five miles of pavement and a little more than an hour, I arrive at Transition Area 2. The solo triathlon participants place their bikes again in protected racks and swap cycling shoes and helmet for running shoes. For the iFlyLAX.com relay team it's another passing of the baton; this time to our runner, Johnny Hossell. As a veteran of many triathlons, including the Hawaii Ironman, a 10K run is nothing new for Johnny. But the running leg of this year's Los Angeles Triathlon was not an easy one; it included an uphill staircase enroute to Chavez Ravine and Dodger Stadium. Back at Olvera Street, at the end of the run, as both whole event and relay participants, men and women, pass through the finish arch, there is exhausted jubilation.

The thrill of victory!It may sound like a cliche', but truly, everyone who races in the City of Los Angeles Triathlon wins. Whether just to know you've done it, or as part of a competitive athletic lifestyle, the realization that you are one of a special minority of humans who would take the extraordinary steps necessary to train for and participate in such an event is a reward in itself. And did I mention the tons of "swag" (free stuff) every racer receives at the registration Expo and finish area?... Official T-shirts, posters, swim caps, power food, energy drinks, free massages and a cool "Finisher" pin.

Official "Finisher" PinFinally, on behalf of Team iFlyLAX.com I'd like to thank the organizers and volunteers of the 3rd Annual City of Los Angeles Triathlon. It was a fantastic event -- easy online registration, computer chip timing system, pre-arranged equipment transfer and excellent logistic management combined with a fantastic race course and first rate crowd/traffic control make this the premiere olympic-length triathlon event in the U.S. (a shorter "sprint" length course is also an option for racers). And the added bonus of making many new friends during the training process and actual participation will ensure that I'll be racing again next year... And just maybe as a complete triathlete: swimming, cycling and running my way across Los Angeles!

Gina GrecoGina Greco (Swimmer)
Gina Greco is a veteran of last year's L.A. Triathlon, where her corporate relay team won their division and finished third overall. She is a regular participant in Masters Swimming competitions in the Los Angeles area, and trains and competes with Southern California Aquatics (SCAQ). Gina also donates her time as a volunteer for the L.A. Triathlon and other competitive events.


James ReillyJames Reilly (Cyclist) iFlyLAX.com webmaster
From his beginnings as a Motocross motorcycle racer in Florida, James Reilly (47) shifted his efforts to human-powered cycles in the early 1990's while living in the Los Angeles area. He participated in road racing events with the JAX Bicycle Center team, including the Mammoth Stage Race, and raced off-road Moutain-biking events as a sport rider at Snow Summit in Big Bear and other venues in the Southern California area. The 24.5 mile stretch of road between Venice Beach and Downtown Los Angeles was his first time-trial/triathlon event.


Johnny Hossell (Runner)
A native of Brazil, Johnny Hossell (40) is an experienced and multi-faceted athlete, who regularly competes solo in triathlon competitions. A professional rower from 1979 to 1988, Johnny was both State Champion and National Champion and competed in the Olympic trials in 1984. Johnny has completed two Ironman triathlons in the USA, and ran the LA Marathon in 1989, 1990, 1999 and 2000. He completed the Maui Channel Swim in 1999, 2000 and 2001 and the Waikiki Roughwater Swim in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Johnny's 6.2 mi. running route in this year's L.A. Triathlon was a strenuous one, as it climbed up to Dodger Stadium from Downtown Los Angeles and ended up back at historic Olvera Street.

For more information on the City of Los Angeles Triathlon, to see all the Professional and amatuer results and race times, or to learn how Team iFlyLAX.com fared in the relay-team event, visit www.latriathlon.com, click on the 2002 results page link.

Olvera Street finish line expo
The Finish Line Expo at Olvera Street... More free stuff!

To read part 1 of this story (pre-race), CLICK HERE

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