Sunday’s "Carmageddon II" closure of the 405 Freeway between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside will create an extra challenge for a Porter Ranch triathlete who plans to compete in the 13th Herbalife Triathlon.
The race will begin with a swim in the Pacific Ocean at Venice Beach, a bicycle ride to downtown and a run from LA Live! to Disney Hall and back two times to end the challenge.
The freeway is closed until Monday morning as workers continue construction on a carpool lane along the heavily congested route.
The organizers of the triathlon set its date long before an announcement was made, putting a crimp into Valley competitors’ plans to hit Venice Beach in a timely fashion.
Howard Roth normally drives to Venice, but due to the closure will be forced to get up at 4 a.m. in the morning—three hours before his normal wake-up time—drive downtown and then take a shuttle around 5 a.m. to the beach. His start time for the race is 7:55 a.m.
So what can he do during the three-hour wait?
“Find some place to take a nap,” said Roth, 55, a business and financial consultant with a small international firm. “As for Carmageddon, it will require me to get up a few hours early, but I don't think it will have an effect on my performance. However, if I don't do well, I will use it as an excuse.”
Roth will be among nearly 2,500 recreational, elite and professional triathletes from 28 states, plus the District of Columbia and 12 countries.
The men’s pro field is led by returning 2011 Los Angeles champion Cameron Dye (USA). Other top contenders are Americans Ben Collins and four-time Olympian Hunter Kemper. Dye, Collins and Kemper are 1, 2 and 3 in the Life Time Fitness Series Race to the Toyota Cup, separated by only 7.5 points.
With four of the Life Time Series Top 5 women pros in town, the women’s competition, led by American Alicia Kaye, will be wide open and most likely fiercely fought between Kaye, Australian Anabel Luxford and Americans Jenna Parker and Jillian Peterson.
The 43 pros, representing the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Bermuda, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands, will be competing for $40,000 in prize money.
Roth says he is by no means a pro and expects to finish the competition in two hours and 45 minutes, which would likely place him in the top third of his division, which is for ages 55-59.
"I always try to beat my previous best times, but as I get older that seems to be getting harder,’ Roth told Patch.
Roth said he trains six days a week, sometimes solo, sometimes with his wife and other times with friends. It’s his hobby. He also said variables can affect finish times, no matter how well-trained a competitor is.
“For example, if there is big surf or a strong current or you get stuck in the middle of a slow pack of swimmers your swim time could be longer than you expected,” he said. “On the bike, you can always get a flat tire and the clock doesn't stop while you fix it. There may be strong headwinds that could slow you down or even rain, fog, mist that makes the roads slippery and require you to be more cautious on the bike. If you have to work harder on the swim and or the bike, or if it gets hot your run time will suffer and you can always have issues in transition.”
Today’s event is referred to as an Olympic course distance. The first leg is a 1500-meter swim, followed by a 40-kilometer cycle race and a 10K run.
Roth started his first triathlon in 1993 and is one of 14 who has done every LA triathlon since 2000.
“Training for and racing in triathlons is my hobby,” the slender, muscular Roth said. “I get to spend time with my wife and friends enjoying the outdoors riding or running when training, and I find it joyful to race and feel like a little kid out playing.
"When I graduated from college, despite not being particularly athletic, I realized if I didn't stay active I would pack on the pounds so I joined a gym. A friend from the gym talked me into doing my first triathlon in 1993 and I was hooked. It is a way to stay active and healthy and I do enjoy it.”
Roth said competitors think about lots of things during the different events, from the water temperature and conditions to the weather to where one is and their surroundings.
“As well as what you will be doing next, such as do I get water at the next aid station or should I try to pick up the pace right now,” Roth said. “You do get caught up in racing and can overlook your surroundings, but I try to pay attention to where I am and enjoy the people or architecture or nature around me while I am racing. My favorite part is crossing the finish line.”