Lost in The Bermuda Triangle: A Race Report

For those of you who somehow don’t know, the Bermuda Triangle is an area in the Atlantic Ocean between the points of Bermuda, South Florida and Puerto Rico where there have been numerous mysterious occurrences over the years, mostly centered on the unexplained disappearances of ships and aircraft. Many believe some unnatural influences are behind these events, ranging from vestigial energy forces from the lost continent of Atlantis to alien intervention. Others argue that the disappearances are due to the usual culprits of maritime disasters, from human error to nasty weather, and are really not more commonplace here than in any other part of the world’s oceans when adjusted for the amount of traffic.
The Bermuda Triangle Challenge is a series of races held on the island for the past 45 years. It consists of a one mile run, a 10k and then your choice of a marathon (no thanks) or a half marathon (yes please). The first 3 finishers are awarded by age group (10 year breaks) for each race and cumulatively. Typically we like to do a warm weather race in the winter and I’ve never run in a mutli-race event or a one mile race for that matter, so we figured the Bermuda Triangle Challenge was a good choice for 2020 despite any superstitions surrounding the Bermuda Triangle
When we landed in Bermuda we were immediately faced with the unexplained disappearance of the weather we expected based on forecasts monitored throughout the week. We had packed for mid-60’s to low 70’s and it was actually in the low 50’s on Thursday night. On Friday, the day of the one mile run, it rained off and on but we were still able to explore Hamilton a bit thanks to the race jacket I received as part of the pretty sweet swag we got for participating. By race time at 7PM is was so damp and windy that the air temps felt like 40. We had to wait in a huge tented area right on the water for our wave to be called to the start line and I was wearing all the clothes I got at the expo plus a lot of what I brought with me and I was still shivering.
Someone told me that my lungs would be burning at the end of the one mile run since I have no experience with it and boy were they right. I was so cold in the chute wearing my tank top that I bolted over the start line and sprinted faster then maybe I ever have. After a third of a mile or so I was seriously sucking wind. I warned myself that I needed to slow down immediately or die. I managed to calm down a bit but it was too late- I was already in agony. To make matters worse the winds were so strong that twice my legs were blown into each other and I nearly tripped over myself. At the finish my chest was on fire and I recommitted myself to running only smart races for the rest of the weekend. My Garmin said I finished in 7:53, which was actually a little slower than I’d expected since I’ve run 5ks at a 7:25 clip in the past.
The next morning I checked the results to see where I stood relative to the other old men. Turns out I finished 6th in my age group which didn’t seem too promising in terms of the overall challenge. At the same time I figured “that’s not my event anyway” and just a small portion of the overall time, so maybe I still had a shot at placing. Then I noticed something funny about the times. It reported both my gun time and my pace as 7:59, a full six seconds vanished without explanation! I checked everyone else’s times – there was invariably a variance between the gun time and the pace, which I would attribute to how far back in the corral you were when the gun went off. For my times to be exactly the same would mean I started at the head of the pack and I most assuredly did not. I wrote a note to the time keeper to see if they could help locate my missing six seconds, but they said my gun time and pace would be the same since it was just 1 mile. When I pointed out that everyone else had different times they fessed up that they had somehow missed my crossing the start and my six seconds were gone forever. Mystery somewhat solved. The “good” news was that the awards are all based on gun time so my six seconds wouldn’t be a factor anyway
On my way out to the 10k that morning I knew that I would be standing in the sun for at least a few hours so I searched for my running hat that I had been wearing the night before. I took it off before the race and handed it to my faithful race crew (my wife Rita – bless her soul). She had put it in my race bag – but search as we may it was gone without a trace! What was happening to us in the Bermuda Triangle?
The queue for the 10k was outside a fence and awkward to get into if you weren’t lined up early. Since it was still cold and windy I was reluctant to strip down to my race togs until the last minute, so I ended up starting near the rear – something I try to avoid in gun timed races. The race began with an uphill climb with the added challenge of trying to get past slower runners. The course was quite scenic but also quite hilly. Based on my near death experience in the one mile I made a point of not overdoing it and finished in 53:36 based on gun time, about 31 seconds more than Garmin said was my actual time. I finished 7th in this race and together with my 6th place finish in the mile I figured I was done relative to the Bermuda Triangle Challenge.
Getting ready for the half marathon the next morning I realized that any pressure I felt to push myself for the Bermuda Triangle Challenge had completely fallen off my radar screen. That meant that I could just go on a nice running tour of the island to wrap up the weekend. The half marathon was mostly along the coastline and the views were as breathtaking as the run was not. There were still hills and the wind picked up again, but with my new goal of just feeling good I had a really enjoyable run. I still managed to finish under 2 hours at 1:58:04, good for 5th place in the old man group.
The after party for the marathon and half was a rocking affair fueled by people excited by their running exploits and free rum, which was central to the 10k after party as well. We left after grabbing a couple of rum drinks for the race crew, a free hot dog and a free muffin. Back at the hotel we saw a steady stream of boisterous runners returning from the festivities. All in all I would say this was a great event and great value for the money. I would definitely recommend it.
The final mystery of the weekend was the whereabouts of the 3rd place finisher in the old man division at the awards ceremony. They called his name in vain but to no avail. Perhaps lost somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle. Actually, it was me! Somehow in the mysterious Bermuda Triangle the average of 5th, 6th and 7th is 3rd. No wonder ships and airplanes get lost in there. Don’t even try to tell me there are no unnatural forces at play.


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