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2001 Coca Cola Series Wrap Up

Another season is in the books. The 2001 Coca Cola Classic Triathlon Series Championship event took place at Club Med yesterday. I managed to stay out in front of the guys until the beginning of the run, when the wrecking crew of Dave, John, and Bill came roaring past. Oh well. I took 4th, had a pretty good race, and secured the 2nd place overall award. Dave had the fastest bike and run splits on his way to another series championship race victory, while John outkicked Bill for 2nd place.

It was a good year. It was a fun year. I started the year out strong with overall wins at the first two races, but my first Ironman attempt in May followed by my master's thesis defense in July took some of the wind out of my sails. A return to base training in August worked well for a couple of late season sprint performances, and I raced well out at Coca Cola - Club Med over the weekend.

My season is over, and I'm ready to take a break. A few hardy souls, including John Reback, Heather Butcher, Terry Hollis, and Tim Milan are gearing up for Ironman and Iron-distance races in the next couple of weeks, but I'll wait until next year to give that distance another try. Good luck and smart racing to you folks! Remember to eat a lot on the bike!

So what do I think about the year? I think John and Linda both had great seasons and deserve to go home with the overall awards. I think we saw a lot of age groupers make big improvements over the course of the season, and I think we also saw a lot of families have a great time at the weekend events that ESM puts on.

I also think that my girlfriend Brianne had a great season in her first year of serious triathlon competition, and that with a winter of smart cycling and swimming she'll be contesting for overall wins next year. Watch out Linda!

The year was not without its sad moments, however. In May, Perry Rendina, an experienced Ironman triathlete, died in a bike crash out at Ironman California. He left a wife and two children behind. In September, terrorists killed an unimaginable amount of our fellow Americans and other innocents from many countries, leaving widows, widowers, orphans, and a world full of shock, grief, and anger.

But life, as it has proven so many times before, goes on. We will recover. We will mourn those that have been lost before their time here on Earth was done, but we will go on.

And on a parting note, I want to say it's been great getting to know you again this summer. To my old friends and new, my hat is off to you for being the good people, and great competitors, that you are.

And I'd like to offer you a challenge for next year, and for the rest of your lives: Never forget how lucky we all are to be able to go to new places every weekend, and ride our bikes around, and lay around in our speedos, watching the clouds roll by while talking relaxedly with strangers. Never forget that the time we have here is precious, and to spend as much of it as you can with your loved ones.

Never forget that the dream to be the best that you can be is a dream that most of the people of the world are simply not allowed to have.

I challenge you to be the best that you can be.

See you around,

Marty Gaal