Earlier in September, we brought you stories of three HOTSHOT Ambassador athletes heading to Chattanooga for the Ironman® 70.3 World Championship. We recently caught up with HOTSHOT Ambassador Garrett Brown to hear his inspiring story from the Chattanooga World Championship course. Before we turn our sights turn to Kona in a little over two weeks, join us as we look back with Garrett on this extraordinary day.
How did you get into triathlon?
My triathlete journey began 3 years ago. I was about 1 year into recovery from an addiction that had consumed me for a long time. Having gotten back into shape with a strong cycling year I was looking for something new. A friend introduced me to triathlon. I had never been a runner, and not much of a swimmer. My first Ironman was Austin 70.3 in November 2014. I was immediately hooked. To date I have eight 70.3’s and two 140.6 Ironman events accomplished. I approached my first Ironman (Louisville 2016) well trained and with an attitude to just finish strong and have a good race. Incredible surprise to qualify for Kona with a second-place age group finish. A month later I qualified for Chattanooga Worlds at Austin 70.3. Anything is possible. Believe it!
Tell us about your race at the Chattanooga Ironman® 70.3 Work Championships!
Chattanooga was a good venue for the IM 70.3 Worlds! Along with great geography, history, people, and accommodations, having Transition and IM Village on a riverfront is always nice. Three bridges on the swim and run courses gave spectators access to great viewing spots.
At the Welcome Banquet Thursday night, I met athletes from Canada, Australia, England, France, Argentina, and Mexico. I was humbled and grateful for the opportunity to race with this “World Class” of athletes.
My swim was good. Wetsuit legal. Not my best time but I think we had a little bit of current to swim against for the longest leg. The rolling start worked well for me. They launched maybe 10 at a time at 20 second intervals by age group. Sighting the buoys was difficult on the upriver because of the sunrise, however sighting by landmarks and bridge pylons made this no problem at all.
The bike was the most difficult of all Ironman races to date. However, I was looking forward to the challenge since I was able to get some mountain training in Colorado this Summer. Mountain training means strength and gearing for the climb and bike handling skills and confidence for the descent (42 mph). The bike had a total 3400 ft. elevation gain. The majority of this was in the first 22 miles. The first 5 miles were flat. So essentially 3000 ft. in 15 miles. Beautiful views near the top of Lookout Mountain. You can see seven states from “Rock City” at the top. Lookout Mountain was a Civil War battleground. The second half of the bike began as undulating with fast down hills, followed by a gradual downhill to the finish. The fast down hills included passing other bikes and a few cars. Quite exhilarating at times!
The run was the most difficult of all my IM races to date. It was a two-loop run with about 1000 ft. of elevation gain. The run was road surface along the river, across two bridges, and thru some neighborhood hills. The aid stations were well placed, well stocked and well-staffed (even ice-cold HOTSHOT at one station that you passed twice). The best part of the run was seeing fellow tri-clubber Charlie Campbell and his Cowbell on the historic bridge with wooden slats as a running surface (soft, everything else was concrete). My run exceeded my expectations, especially since I had just started running 4 weeks ago after 4 months off due to a foot injury.
How did HOTSHOT play a part in your race at Chattanooga?
I had planned to have HOTSHOT in my Bento box on the bike. Somehow, I forgot to do that. I was going to take a preventative dose of HOTSHOT in the last minutes of the bike. I did have HOTSHOT in my run transition bag to start the run with. And it happened . . . minutes out of transition I began to cramp . . . full lockup style. I stopped to stretch and take the dose of HOTSHOT. Within a minute I was running again. The bike had been enough stress on my legs to set up the cramp scenario.
Chattanooga was a great weekend racing with my tri club friends, being a proud HOTSHOT Ambassador, and a great experience over all. On to KONA next! One step closer to the off season!