Sacramento Running News

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A Sacramento Summer Classic: Eppies Great Race

July 22, 2013 By: John Blue Category: General Running News, Road Races

Is there a cup of water around here? (Photo by Abe Underwood)

Your author feeling a little worked after passing the “baton.” (Photo by Abe Underwood)

Each summer, about the time it gets really, really hot in Sacramento, I start to wonder where all these crazy bicyclists on the Parkway have come from. Then someone usually reminds me that Eppies Great Race is around the corner.

Eppies bills itself as “the worlds oldest triathlon.” I can’t tell you if this is true, but I can tell you it is easily the oldest in the area. Non-swimmers love it and traditionalists loathe it because instead of swimming, contestants must paddle a kayak (or some other boat) down the American River from Sunrise to River Bend Park (6.35 miles).

You can do the race as a relay team or “ironperson” style and competitors range from elite to “just off the sofa.” Some individuals and teams come back year after year, for decades on end.

My 2013 Eppies experience started on Friday night, the evening before the race. My friend Arnold called to tell me he’d given my name to some guy at the pre-race pasta dinner whose runner had not shown up. This would be about the tenth time in the past month that someone had asked me about running Eppies. At that point, I had declined all invitations as it didn’t fit into my training plan. Besides, I hadn’t run Eppies in at least 12 years (I’ve only ever done the run as part of a 3-person team.) and wasn’t feeling the need to break my streak.

So when my phone rang at 9:30 Friday night and I didn’t recognize the number, I let it go to voice mail. I played the message back and heard the voice of John Weed explaining that through some misunderstanding, he didn’t have a runner. I was just going to delete the message when my wife, sitting next to me and listening in, says “I know that guy! You have to do it!”

It turns out that John had taught Mrs. Blue’s kayak classes years ago when she had trained for Eppies ironman. So I called him back and said, “Okay. I’ll do it,” for which John was very appreciative.

“Tell your wife that she was my favorite student,” he says.

Early Saturday morning, I meet John for the first time when he gives me the race bib and timing chip. He is lean, tan and youthful at 61. He shows me a list of the other teams in our division and points out our major competitor. John tells me that I just need to beat their runner. I look at the name and see that it’s Mason Myers. I just laugh and say I’ll try to keep within three minutes of him. John puts his head in his hands and looks disappointed for a moment, and then gets back to the business of finding a picture to show me of the cyclist I’ll be handing off our race chip to.

We part ways and I head down to William Pond Park for the start. I look around and I’m struck by the quality of the field. I haven’t seen a field this deep in a local 10K since Run to Feed the Hungry stopped passing out prize money. To crack the top-10 , you’d have to run under 5:30 pace, and the top guys would end up running 5-flat for the 6.82 miles.

The run for me was uneventful, aside from it being pretty warm, and I successfully found our cyclist, Peter Williams, and sent him on his way with our chip in his pocket.

At the end of the day, my team–the imaginatively named Team 565–took 2nd in the 40+ division and I took home a little plaque for my efforts. And it was pretty fun.

As it turns out, my experience–getting drafted at the last minute to complete a team–is a pretty common one and part of what makes the event interesting and unique.

The overall “ironperson” winner was Vic Vicari, 54, with a finish time of 1:47:14. Vicari’s story is that he was hit by a car a few days before the race (apparently suffering no serious injuries), but still managed to get the win (again)!

The top female “ironperson” was Melanie Cleland, 42, who finished in 1:58:04.

The top relay team was the VITEK Vikings, made up of Phil Reid, Johnathan Lee, and John Easterbrook, who finished in 1:33:55.

The top women’s relay team was the Sizzlin’ Sistas, who were Laurie Beyer, Zoe Anastas, and Niki Calastas Usual Suspects, who were Karen Jeffers, Kristina Zack, and Robin Carpenter, who earned the laurel wreath with a 2:08:39 1:54:53. (Note: Edited on 7/29/13 to correct the winning women’s team.)

The top coed team was Team Top 10, made up of Corinne Yee, Kevin Whitford, and Ryan Zahner. Team Top 10 finished in 1:57:02.

There are as many divisions at Eppies as there are excuses for skipping a workout. You can see all the  results at Capital Road Race Management.

You can read the Bee’s coverage of the event, too.

All in all, seriously fierce competition and a pretty fun day.

Racers stream into the finish and an army of volunteers pass the boats on up to the shore. (SRN photo)

Racers stream into the finish and an army of volunteers pass the boats on up to the shore. (SRN photo)






5 Comments to “A Sacramento Summer Classic: Eppies Great Race”

  1. Mason Myers says:

    Great coverage of Eppies, John. Congratulations on your team’s success!

  2. John Blue

    Thanks, Mason. I am proud to have been only a few minutes behind you!

  3. Karen Jeffers says:

    REALLY?!? EPPIES – “The top women’s relay team was the Sizzlin’ Sistas, who were Laurie Beyer, Zoe Anastas, and Niki Calastas, who earned the laurel wreath with a 2:08:39.” Isn’t the 50’s time of 1:54:53.7 FASTER!?

  4. Karen Jeffers says:

    Thank you John 🙂 You are correct as well. The 50+ women are very competitive. 😉


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