Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Rio Grande GCSA member represents USA!

I want to share this article by a Rio Grande GCSA member and a member of the Board of Directors: Robert Gonzales. Robert is the superintendent at the New Mexico Tech Golf Course and has been doing some serious training and preparation for this event. The article is an interesting review of the competition and his travels in Europe. Great going Robert and thanks for sharing!

Robert Gonzales
Earlier this month, I had the honor of representing my country at the 2014 World Duathlon Championships in Pontevedra, Spain. Duathlon is a RUN-BIKE-RUN race format. There were a total of 265 athletes representing the USA and 1,400 athletes from around the world – representing 31 countries.

My family and I arrived early in the week and visited the many small towns of the Galicia province of Spain (NW corner), and we were amazed at the architecture of the region. The Spanish landscape is vastly different from the U.S., with the residents residing in many of the original buildings or living in apartment buildings. The country between the small towns was beautiful rolling hills covered with small houses and farms, as many of the residents grow most of their own fruit and vegetables. The roads are very narrow, most are one-way and are NOT in a grid. Most vehicles in Spain (Europe in general) are small, and parking is at a premium. Many of the residents walk many, many blocks to their destinations. There are small fruit and meat markets on every corner, as residents seem to buy food on a nightly basis. CafĂ©’s and small bars are also on every street, as residents pick their favorite place to grab espresso or beverage of their choice every evening.

The sun would not set until about 11 p.m., so going to sleep was always late in the evening. We also visited the town of Santiago, which is a town that many Europeans pilgrimage to. There is a huge Cathedral there, and legend has it that the remains of the apostle James were brought to Galicia for burial. In 813, according to medieval legend, the light of a bright star guided a shepherd (who was watching his flock at night) to the burial site in Santiago de Compostela.

We also drove into Portugal and saw several old forts along the coast. What was also neat to see was the sea tide being out on our way down to Portugal and the tide returning on our way back to Spain. The Atlantic Ocean was very cold.


The weather for the race was perfect – low 70s, mild humidity. As I arrived at the venue, I was very nervous but also anxious about getting going. I warmed up with several of my teammates, went to the restroom many times and prayed before the race.

One of the many things that I learned from this trip is that a majority of people are caring and friendly, no matter what country you reside in.

The first part of the race was a 4 loop run (10K – 6.2 miles) around the old town of Pontevedra. My family was able to see me at several points during the run portion, and seeing their friendly faces was a great help. I finished the first run segment in 40:11 and was headed out on the bike course (2 loops).

The bike course was not what we (TEAM USA) was given in our pre-race handouts. We were told that the course was relatively flat with a small incline going out. During team practice, we found out that the small incline was about 5.5 miles of a continuous incline. This is where the Europeans have a HUGE advantage on most of the TEAM USA athletes. I did the best I could on the bike course, but was tired after the 40K.

The last segment of the race was a 2 loop 5k run, on the same run course as earlier. My legs were tired, but I still had a race to finish. I was happy to see my family during this run segment and their encouragement was greatly needed. Before the finish line, our team captain was passing out American flags that he wanted us to finish the race with. I was proud to wave this small flag across the finish line. I finished the race in 2:30:21, which was 40th out of 64 in my age group and 8th out of 16 Americans.

I was happy with my overall performance, but learned many valuable lessons. I hope I will be able to race in these championships again.