After 9000 athletes entered and exited Lake Michigan the main event was set to start on Sunday at the Chicago Triathlon, the professionals race.
All morning long the announcers touted the "battle between Andy Potts and Matt Reed," two of the top triathletes in the nation. After taking first at the Steelhead Triathlon earlier this month, Potts was hot, the man to beat and Reed was up for the challenge.
Potts was the first to burst out of the water and head off to the bike leg of the race, but Reed wasn't far behind and soon caught up to and passed his nemesis. That's when things went wrong, very wrong. " I passed Andy and after the turn around started to look over, across the lane to gauge how much of a lead I had. I kept looking, but he wasn't there, that made me worry."
So worried in fact that while Reed was running past his wife, he was trying to get information from her about Potts.
Despite being competitors, Potts and Reed are friends, and Reed knew that Potts doesn't give in and fade away.
When he crossed the finish line to win, Reed had the same question for the reporters as the reporters had for him. "What happened to Andy?"
What happened, was Potts wiped, so badly that he was taken away in an ambulance. It wasn't a flat or a pot hole that took out the champ, but a slow age grouper swerving into the professionals lane at the worst possible time, as Potts was passing him going over 30 MPH.
Jenna Shoemaker was out there racing and knows how things can go from bad to worse in a flash. " I try to stay as far away from the age groupers as I can, they are tired, some are disoriented and compared to the rates of speed we are moving, it's like they are standing still, it's scary."
Things we're tense in the finishers area, as people tried to get news of the Potts condition.
Reed wanted to take off to the hospital to be by his friends side, but had to meet his commitments for the race. His wife Kelly was receiving texts from Potts wife Lisa, "Andy is banged up pretty bad, this is very scary, they are doing tests, looks like everything is going to end up OK, I hope."
" I know what Andy was trying to do, take the tightest line (to the age group lane) to be as efficient as he can and save time, it's an every day race tactic. The problem is in a race like this, you can trust what the age groupers are going to do or how they are going to react, we all just hope he's OK." Said Shoemaker.
Before the news of Potts accident could completely sink in, the second announcement came, "Julie Dibens was knocked out of the race and injured." The same scenario, an age grouper wandering into the professional lane.
"Luckily, Julie wasn't hurt as bad, she was heading North into the wind and not traveling as fast." Shoemaker told us.
Dibens was in the finishers shoot, towing her cracked up bike, trembling and bleeding, an accident that could have been avoided.
Reports about Potts from friends close to him, tell us that he is being
tested and is pretty banged up, but should be OK. Less than two months
from Kona, we will see if Potts is able to race or was he taken out of
the World Championships by Wave #55.
Let us know what you think? Does this race need to be so big? Is it
safe to cram that many athletes into such a small space? Should the
pros start first, instead of last? Is mixing pros with tired slow age
groupers a recipe for disaster?
Log on and share your thoughts.