Sunday, September 07, 2014

Bainbridge Island Marathon 2014

The Sound Rowers and Paddlers Bainbridge Island Marathon was held yesterday. Consisting of two events, the full 26.2 mile marathon around the island and a "half" marathon of 12 miles along the east side, it is the most grueling event on the Sound Rowers calendar.

While I probably could have done the full marathon, I decided instead to do the half marathon, but go the other way around the island from the traditional course. This meant a somewhat longer distance of 14.2 miles.

The weather was just about perfect; upper 70's, blue skies and a light wind from the north. On the other hand the tide was flooding all during the race which meant there would be a strong current at the north and south ends of the island, and generally against all north bound travel - which is what the half marathon does for the majority of the course.

Only one other person, Paul Rollinger, decided to join me for the non-traditional half marathon. The rest went the traditional direction (counter-clockwise).

So far as the marathoners went, only one boat went the counter-clockwise route. The rest went clockwise. With the two hour earlier start at Fay Bainbridge Park at the other end of the island this meant those folks would be potential targets for competition for Paul and me.

As it turned out, the tidal current and winds pushed most of the long course folks well past the starting line for the short course at Fort Ward Park on Rich Passage by the time the half marathon event began.

Going through Rich Passage was a treat. The flooding tide was going about 3 knots in the center of the channel if you managed to figure out the locations of the eddies and avoid them. Combined with my boat's cruising speed I managed to hit as high as 10.5 mph. Woo hoo!

That made for a rather quick 2 miles.

So, I took it fairly easy for the first half, waiting a couple of times for Paul Rollinger to catch up. After he said he didn't want me waiting for him I decided to go a bit faster, but keeping my pulse around 135 bpm.

I found I had to remove weeds that seemed to accumulate about every few minutes if I traveled too close to shore, but further out in the channel they were almost nonexistent.

About 9 miles into the race I caught up with Dean Williams, Jr., on the long course, and spied a rower about half a mile ahead.

The scenery of the Olympic Mountains and the undeveloped shoreline was so beautiful, and the water was mostly flat. The tidal current was almost nonexistent, and the northerly breeze was absolutely delightful.

Passing under the Agate Pass Bridge the current was quite strong, especially mid channel. I kept pretty close to shore, where my speed at full cruising power was about 5 mph. Just a few feet further into the channel my speed at the same power dropped to 3.4 mph!

After rounding the north end of the island I encountered a sailing regatta of one man boats, and the water was getting a bit rough. I was quite a bit closer to the rower, who was keeping close to the shore. However, he managed to stay ahead of me through the tide rip at the NE corner of the island and cross the nearby finish line before me.

I crossed the line with a time of 2:28:53, or 2:32 if you include the time spent waiting for Paul.

As it turned out the folks who did the traditional half marathon had a tough time slogging it through the wind and waves of Puget Sound. Only a couple of the fastest boats made it to the finish before me, and they had 2.2 miles less to travel!

Photos I took during the event can be seen here.