Paul Ambrose had just claimed his first Memphis In May Triathlon victory, and the $2,000 in cold cash that went with it, Sunday at Orgill Park. At that moment, however, all that interested the 25-year-old Australian was the concept of "cold."
As they took the timing chip strap from his ankle,
"It was hot. Really hot," said Ambrose, who is not unfamiliar with hot, humid conditions in his native Sydney. Still, the sudden early blast of vintage 90-degree Memphis caught him and most of the 1,700 competitors flush.
"I felt it all through the run. It was just survival," said Ambrose, who covered the nine-tenths-of-a-mile swim, 24-mile bike ride and 6.1-mile run in 1 hour, 53 minutes, 47 seconds -- at least six minutes off his previous best time. "There are areas on the run where there's no shade, and you're really feeling it."
Still, he was delighted to win the MIM Triathlon in his third try. "This is a good honest race where it's pretty much up to you."
Women's pro winner Jennifer Garrison of Naperville, Ill., near Chicago, said with a semi-gasp, "It's never like this where I live!"
"The bike ride was tough, and you were holding the entire run," said the 31-year-old mother of two, who like most of the top women's competitors spent time in the medical tent with heat-related issues after the finish.
"I kept thinking of my kids and how I didn't want to quit for them," said Garrison, a two-time national amateur champion who was amazed that her 2:07:35 nearly matched her performance last year, when it was mid-60s with Chicago-style wind.
Dr. Barbara Geater, who as she has for several years competed and then worked the treatment area, said, "Business was definitely up this year. I don't know if it's the hottest race we've had, but it's close."
Race director Brent Barrett said one competitor was transported to an area hospital with heat-related issues, while a second was taken by ambulance from the course after an accident during the bike ride.
"We had a lot of folks who didn't pace themselves during the run, wanting to push for the best time possible," he said.
This was the final MIM Triathlon to be held in Millington. Barrett said the event, operated by Start2Finish Event Management, will move to Harrah's Tunica next year.
"We've had a great run at this venue, and Millington people have been great to us, but the event has outgrown the venue," Barrett said.