By Brad Vaux


     While waiting in line for body marking, all of us knew this year’s Whisky Dick Triathlon could be very different.  A cool westerly breeze was greeting us at the Vantage Boat Ramp.

     It’s been three years since I’ve raced here before taking a hiatus from triathlon.  I’ve always been partial to this race due to its inherent challenge.  For me, it’s something about moving the body through this point-to-point course starting with a 1 mile brisk and possibly choppy swim in the Columbia River at Vantage, to the 12 mile cycling hill climb to Whisky Dick Ridge and its descent, followed by the 9 mile run through the sultry farmland of Kittitas, city streets of Ellensburg,  and on to the finish at the Kittitas Fairgrounds.  Mix in some very unpredictable weather conditions and you will always “earn” your T-Shirt on this race.

     After a very brief warm-up for the swim, the mountain man and his musket-shot sent us off.  I relaxed into the swim.  With cooler water temperature in the low 60’s, it always takes me a bit longer to get my “gills”.  I ingested some of the Mighty Columbia and felt a bit strangled by the thick plant life towards the swim finish, but otherwise it was quite rudimentary. 

     In past years, I recall ascending the “Damn Hill” on the bike with such strong headwinds in the 95+degree heat it resembled a blast furnace.   And always after finishing the bike section, there was never much left in the tank for the run.  However, today there was actually talk of a tailwind and fast times. The first 12 miles of the bike leg are spent looking upwards at pavement and sage.  New for me this year, however, was the sight of wind-turbines slicing through the sky.  The first 12 miles of punishment ended sooner than expected as I crested Whisky Dick Ridge.

The next 14 miles of descent are briefly spent enjoying the scenery, before getting in total aero-position with head down and back flat winding your way through the Kittitas countryside.

     I approached the bike-run transition in Kittitas with a little life left in my legs.  As I meandered through the Kittitas farmland on the 9 mile run, I felt a little more spring and bounce in my stride than normal. It seems the blood in my legs made the shift from cycling to running a little easier than usual.  I was able to “reel-in” a handful before finishing in Ellensburg at the Fairgrounds in 3:08:32 for 13th overall and 3rd in my 40-44 year age group.  Congratulations also extended to Ironman Canada bound Tom Drury for a finish of 3:04:57 for 10th overall and 1st in our 40-44 year age group.  In addition, Donna Nettleship with a time of 3:31:26, 6th woman, 29th overall, and 3rd in her 45-49 age group.  Finally, a special thanks to my support crew—Joan and Carling Vaux.