10/11/11

Record Turnout at The Mullet!!!

What a great day of racing, weather, food, drink, fellowship and fun! 155 racers pulled into the Lake Ahquabi State Park to toe the line for $1800 in prize money, $850 in T-Shirts, $380 in very unique medals, and a table full of Schwag from Oakley, Rasmussens, Cliff Bar, Saris, and CTS.

Race results are here.

We had a huge turnout last year with 133 racers which was overwhelming. I learned from the experience and took steps to improve and handle that kind of growth in the event to make the 4th year even bigger and better. My goal was to come close to the 2010 number of 133 racers again this year - especially since I took on some financial risk for the expense of electronic chip timing (another $1K) and the porta-potty rentals ($127). This year divided the race into two segments: a real 3+ hour marathon race or IMBCS #10 XC race with specific number of laps 4/3/2/1 depending on CAT. I was pleased with the turnout for both and prize money was guaranteed at $250 for 1st place in both the men's open and women's open of the marathon and the XC CAT I races.

I also teamed up with CITA (Central Iowa Trails Association) to make The Mullet Fall Classic a CITA fundraiser. I have to say, that was a great addition. The post race, end of the IMBCS Mountain Biking Race season party was a blast. Beer Garden, homemade chili, burgers and brats on the grill, pot luck salads, desserts, chips, etc... - all of it had everyone smiling for a few hours after the race. The weather was a blessing as it hit 80 degrees with clear skies and a very slight wind to keep things from getting too hot.

The trail was in good shape thanks to all the hours put in by volunteers, including two CITA trail work days. That took some of the load off of my grooming of the trails and allowed me to be able to focus on other details of organizing everything between my mowing, lopping, raking, marking, clearing hours which I always underestimate how much time is involved to get nearly 7 miles of trail in shape for a race. A big thanks to Jed Gammell, Rob Versteegh and Oakley, Sterling Heise and Rasmussen Bike Shop, Tom Anderson (and his family!!), Matt McCutchan, Troy Pearson, Al Boone, Ron Cooney, Pete Parvi, Scott Sumpter, Tara Starr, Alexa Brown, the 7 fraternity brothers from Lamda Chi, Josh Shipman and the Lake Ahquabi staff, Nancy Stirek, Craig Harding, Justin Hankins, and all of those who helped put things together food, trail and volunteer wise for the 2011 Mullet.

There were growing pains again this year and not everything went as smoothly as it could have. Jed and I both failed to bring a printed out list of the actual 73 qualifiers (those that registered before noon on September 30th) for the free t-shirts, so distribution of those was flawed. That's our bad and it won't happen again. Apologies to the few within the 73 that saw their t-shirts snagged up by everyone else who thought they were free for the taking.

Talks began immediately after the event between Ryan Feagan (from Nebraska Psycowpath Series), Nancy Stirek, Craig Harding and myself about streamlining the waiver process with Raceregister.net to avoid any hand writing by me on the forms. We also talked about how to speed up the chip assignment process, as well as pros/cons of online pre-registration and day of registration solutions. Psycowpath didn't allow pre-registration, but liked my format of the discounted entry fee for pre-registration online, and a non-discounted fee for day of race registration. Ryan thinks he might try that next year as it captures a lot of the "I'll wait until I see what the weather is going to be like" crowd that decides within the final 24 hours to race or not.

Check-in wasn't too bad, but the two lines were long and a bit of a bottleneck that shouldn't be involved with an event that is pre-registered for 123 of the 155 racers. Having to sign those dang waivers (legally, it must be a hand written signature) slows things down. Another growing pain was my guesstimate of 250 bottles of water (same amount I bought last year) was not enough. I needed to have purchased at least twice as much with the turnout and all of the volunteers. Beer outnumbered water by a margin of 5 to 1 (at least) as everyone else brought so much beer - but no water!!

Jed and Rob rode last year, so it was my turn to ride this year. Unfortunately, after a good jump off the line and in the front group of 4, I broke my chain about a 1/2 mile after the start!!! I couldn't believe it! A DNF at Sugarbottom with a blown rear hub and now a broken chain?!!!? By the time I walked back to the starting area, turned in my timing chip and reported myself as a DNF, used the Kybo and then decided to fix my chain, I was probably 15 minutes behind. But Tom Anderson and Pete Parvi convinced me to fix my chain and get back out there in spite of it. So I grabbed my timing chip again and said I was not a DNF and headed out to see how the course was riding and mix it up. All for fun and well worth coming in Dead Frickin' Last in my division. I did make up some good time though, but stopped for Parady Boatwright who crashed and hit a tree. I saw the fall and she hit her head for a bit of a stinger. I helped her up and made sure she was okay before getting back on the bike. I motored on to finish and was only 2 seconds away from not being DFL. ;-}

Other than that, things were fine. Thanks to all who came out to race, brought food, helped, volunteered, provided feedback and had a great time.

Now on to my real job filled with non-stop problem solving - stage directing the opera at Simpson.

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