Editor’s Note: Last weekend, Upper West Sider Thomas Hudson joined about 2,500 other people from all over the world in competing in the Ironman U.S. Championship Triathlon, which finished at 81st Street in Riverside Park. It included a 2.6-mile swim in the Hudson, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run. He sent us some thoughts on training in the neighborhood and on competing in the event. (Photo of Hudson and his support team at the bottom.)

On Training

The UWS is the perfect place to train for a triathlon race. If you need hills, head to central park and do the loop where it is challenging to find even a mile the is not undulated, and the north end of the park designed for steep bike or run hill repeats.

If you want flats, breeze, and beauty river side park is the place to be running and biking along the Hudson. Depending on the desired mileage, head north on the path to the George Washington Bridge and onward to 9w and the villages and cafes of Piermont and Nyack NY.
The bottom line, in a city of 8 million people, serenity and scenery abound with many routes on the Upper West Side unimpeded by cars — Central Park, along the Hudson, the upper part of riverside park, etc

There is no better way to explore a neighborhood than on foot, pacing and observing. It makes the time pass and changes your vantage point.

On the Race

There were approximately 2500 competitors ranging in age from 18-75. with an average of 37, representing 46 states and 44 countries. The U.S., Brazil, and Australia had the highest concentrations.

Nothing about the course was easy: from rain during the bike check-in to the questions about are we going to swim or not and the psychological impact of sewage potentially being in the water, to hills, wind, humidity, and heat. But hey it was an Ironman and the U.S. Championships to boot. What was supposed to start w/ a current slightly against to a slack tide and then finally a helpful current (despite the tragedy of a swimmer dying), the river turned out to be the easiest part of the day. Current downstream leading to personal swim records aplenty before heat on a rolling hilly bike course, and a very challenging run course more than making up for the swim. Only 1 runner including the pros finished the marathon portion under 3 hrs. That’s unheard of for a championship event let alone a field full of this many pros.

The most challenging by far was the run, specifically the hills in along the palisades cliffs in New Jersey. The most breathtaking part was seeing the city in the distance while crossing the bridge, knowing you were running home to the Upper West Side with less than 10 miles to go. Most motivating was listening to a fireman who was hit by a bus some years prior fighting to recover and completing the race, not to mention seeing someone do the entire race holding a US flag with 9/11 victim names on it. In addition the countless volunteers and fans waving to the end. A memory that will not be forgotten. All in all, a great day for many competitors, fans, friends, and family.

Registration for the 2013 event was suspended by the World Triathlon Council, so who knows if this will be the last full Ironman run in NYC, but a moment for all Upper West Siders to enjoy as it finished in Riverside park at 81st. Despite amplified sound being cut at 10pm, the crowds were large and personal “You are an Ironman” was delivered with a handshake rather than a speaker.

All photos courtesy of Thomas Hudson. In the photo below, Hudson is the guy with the medal around his neck.

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