Commentary: On SavageMan

By Tara Norton

SavageMan is perfectly named: This race is truly savage. In fact, this race is actually way beyond savage! I won SavageMan in its inaugural year and, whenever possible, I add it to my season race calendar. It is by far my favourite half-Iron distance race, for a number of reasons.

First, the race course itself is breathtaking. It consists of a gorgeous wetsuit swim in Deep Creek Lake, a challenging and spectacular bike along Savage River and up Big Savage Mountain, and a beautiful run through Deep Creek State Park.

This race was developed by people who are both passionate about the sport of triathlon and have a deep connection to the natural beauty of the area. It is refreshing to have a race that was born out of these values, as opposed to simply being designed as a big money-making venture. Fuelled by this passion, it comes as no surprise to discover that the race is exceptionally well-managed.

ALL the proceeds from this race go to the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation, an incredibly worthy cause in and of itself – and a particularly apt cause for triathletes to support given the amount of time we spend racing and training in the sun.

On a personal level, I have always found that the tougher race courses suit me best, and this race is the epitome of tough courses. My favourite Ironman is Ironman Lanzarote, which is often referred to as the toughest Ironman in the world because of its winds, the potential for extreme heat and its 9000 feet of ascent on the bike. But SavageMan makes Ironman Lanzarote seem easy! SavageMan has almost 6000 feet of climbing in half the distance and includes a 31%-grade climb at the Westernport Wall. And as tough as that sounds, it is not the 31%-grade climb that makes this race insane – it is the seven miles of climbing (much of it at 20% grades) after “The Wall” that really pushes your limits!

I love this race because you have the opportunity to get a brick, with your name engraved in it, laid at the top of The Wall should you climb it successfully. What other race does that!? I love that the number of participants is kept relatively low, which makes for a more intimate and fun experience. I love this race because the post-race ice cream rocks. I love that you get major bragging rights just for completing the event. I could go on, but quite simply: I love this race because there is nothing else this special out there!