(This story was published in 2006).
Triathlon – Easy on the Eyes. Triathletes are special people – willing to get up obscenely early for a brutal race that demands proficiency in no less than three separate sports. One being not drowning. Of course I must admit that the black numbers they write on your arms and legs are pretty damn sexy. And it’s a chance to show off your tight ass and flat stomach. If you’ve been training hard, that is.
If you liked your men in Speedos, then this was the race for you. Beefy, chiseled guys made for nice eye candy. The women were easy on the eyes as well, in their tight triathlon outfits. I’ve always thought that triathletes are some of the fittest athletes out there, they have to be – simply to meet the rigors of the sport.
This race was dominated by Chicagoans. There was a strong showing from Chicago’s two vibrant triathlon groups, Chicago Tri Women and Chicago Razors. It was harder to find the international participants, though. If you weren’t informed that this was an international competition, you might have not known this at all. After some searching, I did find two Germans and a Brit. Where was everyone else, I wondered.
The heat was simply unbearable, one of those infamous Chicago muggy days. The sun seemed to burn through everything, especially the participants as they embarked on the long, unshaded run. Lee Moran, medical chair informed me that there were five heat related cases, mostly dehydration and one person who had to be taken to x-ray a knee injury. The folks all got excellent care, as there were four ambulances on standby, two doctors, and a ton of other medical folks.
Some of more masochistic participants were also little sleep deprived, having stayed for the entire opening Ceremonies the previous night. A small, but dedicated crowd of spectators braved the heat to cheer on the runners.
Adeline, a tow headed 7-year-old cheered and waved a multi-colored rainbow pom-pom as athletes crossed the finish line. She was part of a closely-knit group from Oak Park comprised of two straight families, two gay families, and all their kids. Ellie, another seven year old from the group had made a rainbow bracelet for her gay father that said “Papa.” He wore it in the race. Too cute for words.
Tricia Sulita ran the Gay Games triathlon on her forty fifth birthday. She was happy with her race saying, “my goal was to not drown. ” Simply surviving the swim was a nice birthday present. Tricia, an organizer with the Chicago TriWomen, cheered on her fellow group members as they crossed the finish line.
Most Dedicated Award: You think you have lots to do before the race? Kris a mother from Oak Park had to pump her breast milk for her baby. She had just given birth two months earlier, and her baby was at the race. Kris looked fantastic and it was amazing that she could go out and race so soon after having a child.
Quote of the Day: One of the guys on the Chicago Razor’s triathlon team told me that they stand “for men who like to shave time and shave their legs.” - Ronit Bezalel
Hot times at football: Cyd and I spent eight hours out at flag football, where it was in the 90s and humid. I have never appreciated the shade of a tree or a bottle of water more and I know I speak for players from all 15 teams. They were brutal conditions to play under and made me long, at least for an afternoon, for a bit of a Chicago winter.
Team Outsports went 1-1 on the day, losing a thriller to Boston, 21-20, and beating San Diego, 25-7, in a game that ended at 7 p.m. The action in all the games was spirited and it sets up what should be fun playoffs starting Tuesday. Former NFL player Esera Tuaolo plays for Outsports and it was terrific seeing him on the field with other gay players, no longer having to hide.
Another former NFL player, David Kopay, was there and he provided my most memorable moment of Day 1. It was at the end of the Boston game and Outsports players were calling for water at the other end of the field. I knew I was going to go back out on offense and there was no way I was running 40 yards to deliver water. Corey Johnson, our center, felt the same. What do we see next but Dave Kopay, more than 30 years after his last game and someone who has had a hip and a knee replacement, running down the sidelines with bottles of water in his arms to give to the team. It was a classy move by a great guy who has never forgotten what it's like to be athlete. -Jim Buzinski
Hot times in the shower: Sorry I missed the doings Sunday night at Spin, where the West Hollywood water polo team presented quite a show. Our spies say they had five totally hot guys in an on-stage shower, naked except for strategic small pieces of cloth. They moved to the beat and bumped and grinded as customers went wild ogling them. Where a camera when you really need it. -JB
10k Road Race: The weather continues to be the story at the Chicago Gay Games, as the fiercest challenge is surviving the heat.
“We need extra water. The race is about to start, we need extra water for the 10k,” an organizer announced into her walkie-talkie before the 10k road race began. Monday.
The 10k road race was delayed half an hour until the water delivery truck arrived. There wasn’t any ice and the Gatorade ran out. One person mentioned that the 10k seemed to be the most disorganized thing she’d seen. In the true community spirit, some spectators jumped in to help volunteer where they were needed.
“You’ve got to give props to Chicago, they only had two years to organize this,” said runner Annette Wachter from Germany. On organizing committee for the 2010 Cologne games, Wachter was paying close attention to how things were being run.
The 10k race seemed much more international than the other competitions. Both male and female winners were European – Stefan Henricksson, 41, from Sweden led all competitors with a blistering time of 36:07. Katrin Lange, 29, from Germany was the first woman, with a time of 44:31. Lange was amazingly buff, with one of those dream bodies. “She’s got a nice ass,” commented Steve, my gay male friend. Lange was fresh off an Ironman competition that she finished only two weeks earlier.
The heat was too much for Italian participant Cosimo Bamonte, who collapsed shortly after crossing the finish line. He was immediately swarmed by the medical staff who cooled him down. After about ten minutes, Bamonte was helped up and escorted to one of the ambulances. I spoke with Bamonte afterwards and he was fine, except for suffering severe dehydration.
The biggest applause went to competitor Darryn Dunbar, the last person to finish the race. He crossed the line as the medal ceremony was underway. “I got a late start” he said, having overslept and begun the race half hour later than everyone else. -Ronit Bezalel
Off Road Riding: As I’m mountain biking Tuesday, I’m nervous about racing at noon in this sweltering heat. “Will there be enough Gatorade tomorrow at the mountain bike race?” I asked one of the volunteers.
“I’m not sure.” He said. “You’d better bring your own supplies to be safe.”
You can betcha I’m stocking up on Gatorade. Heck, I’ll probably have to bring enough for the 47 other riders as well. Ronit Bezalel
Best Quote: An Chicago tennis player quipped, “Being used to the heat isn’t much of an advantage. me. I need Tonja Harding to come and bash my opponents’ knees if I’m ever going to have a chance to win.” Ronit Bezalel
Memphis Email. A member of the Memphis Express basketball team took issue with my note yesterday that they were in the wrong division and sent us the email below. I'm sure they're wonderful guys and I'm sure they're trying their hardest. I was simply saying that they are in the wrong division. You decide.
"Our Memphis team is one of people from across the country. We are true basketball lovers in every sense of the word. Using the great technology at our disposal in today's modern society, we scoured the country looking for teammates and friends. We are in a building process that started at Chicago's tournament last year where we played on a team with a great group of guys. We continued to work on our skills and faired better in the Atlanta tournament last year. This year we improved by leaps and bounds, however the results are obvious.
"I think it is fair to note that our team was to consist of eight players. Our big man at 6`7 had to pull out 2 days before the tournament for personal reasons. One of our other players, a guard, has been unable to play with us. With two of our players not being at the game against New York or the other games we have played thus far, we are short-handed. Many players have had to step up into roles that we were not expecting.
"Like any other team in history, there is a building process that is leading to the results we want. The same holds true for gay sports in general. I was not around for the first Gay Games, but I would place a wager that states it is nothing near what it is now. You have to walk before you crawl. We are not here to play for second best. Right now we are a team striving to become a good team and then a great team.
"As we sit, we are 0-4. While I would prefer to have a better record, I would not change the experience for anything in the world. This is where I want to be. As with the other tournaments I have played in, I have developed great friendships that will last forever. However, it is demoralizing when my teammates came to Chicago to have a great time and we end up in front of the firing squad otherwise known as outsports.com.
"Freedom of the press is a great right that we have in this country. But with this right, there comes great responsibility. When a "writer" decides he has a story to write, he must make sure to research every aspect of the story. We are a great group of friendly guys and would have been more than happy to talk with you.
"The Gay Games is supposed to be an event of great fellowship for all Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, and Trans-Gender people. Your attack on our team was unwarranted and unprovoked. We will continue to have a great time and enjoy the fellowship of all those people that wish to be our friends and get to know us despite those that wish to cast a shadow over our time here." -Cyd Zeigler jr.