There are two very similar versions going around of what happened to the ChicagoNow Fast Action Response Team at the Chicago Triathlon. They were both written but my relay teammates Dave (Pace Of Chicago) and Dan (Cubicle Dad). I respect both of these men… we’ve run together, gone on training rides and swims together, they are my friends. But unfortunately I have to go all Tyler Hamilton on them and expose the “truth” of what happened Sunday morning on the lake path.
Around 5am I was exiting the expressway heading to meet the boys in transition. As I was driving down Michigan Ave approaching the Millenium Park parking garage I saw flashing police lights in the distance behind me. Thinking nothing of it I made a slight left to enter the garage and immediately before entering a City of Chicago garbage truck blocked my path. I honked like any good Chicagoan would do! The driver just pointed behind me… There was the officer walking up to my window.
“Can you step out of the car.”
Crap what did I do to get pulled over. I did as the officer said. Out of his back pocket he took out a picture, looked at it and then back at me.
“Are you Phil Castello?”
“Yes, is there something I did wrong?”
Just then another car pulled up behind the squad car. A man got out, I couldn’t really see him very well, he was wearing a baseball cap and looked short.
“Wait here a minute”
The officer walked over and talked to this guy. After a few minuets they walked back over to me. The short guy took off his hat and looked up at me… It was Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, and he looked pissed… or not it was hard to tell.
“Do you know who I am?” Before I could answer he said “Well I know who you are. And I know you and your team of jack wagons are racing in my wave. I won’t be made a fool of, I own this city and I own this race. So unless you want problems, I’d take it easy on the course.”
The mayor got in his car and all I could think was, REALLY?!?!
Just before he drove away, the Mayor rolled down his window and said “Regardless of what you decide to do, the results will be in my favor.”
I didn’t want to say anything to Dave and Dan at first. Maybe they got accosted too! I parked and met Dave, he looked a little stressed. He said he hand’t slept much and he had to use the bathroom, but I wasn’t buying it.
Dan gave a similar story saying he parked in the wrong garage and was walking quite a distance. I found it hard to believe that a guy who’s picture was posted all up and down the Chicago Marathon course last year couldn’t properly navigate the Loop parking garages.
It was those moments that I knew our race had been completely compromised. Throughout the morning while setting up, I noticed that each one of us were finding reasons to delay getting to the start on time. Dave said the Life Time Fitness PR people needed to see us, I “forgot” my goggles in transition. We were a mess.
Finally after an abnormally long bathroom stop, we headed to the start and wouldn’t you know it… We missed our wave. I took off with the 3rd wave, and swam for what I think was about 20 minutes before exiting the water and running the roughly 13 miles from the Swim Out to Transition (seriously how long was that run!).
I handed the timing chip to Dan who sprinted off and gave it to Dave for the Bike course. At this point the Mayor probably had a 10 minute head start.
While milling around transition Dan said “I saw the Mayor, he got out of the water not long before you.”
I think secretly we both hoped Dave didn’t do anything crazy on his new tricked out Trek Speed Concept and get all of our property taxes increased!
Dan headed to the run start while I waited for Dave at the end of the bike course. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the Mayor come in before him.
Minutes late Dave came flying in to transition, I ran the chip to Dan who started to run the wrong way to meet me (probably just a coy way to slow us down). STOP STOP STOP I yelled, we made the hand off and I went to find Dave. He told me about not being properly fit for his bike and there not being aid stations on the course… But I knew what was up.
At the finish line we waited for Dan, but before he came flying through the finish line we saw our arch nemesis… Dave couldn’t resist.
“Hey Mr. Mayor Congratulations on your finish.”
The Mayor gave us a glare, mumbled “Thanks” and gave us fist bumps, to which Dave said “Really? Did the Mayor just fist bump me?”
Dan came screaming through the finish like champion. We all high five’d, got our picture taken and had a good time. Like I said I think they both new we were shaken down by the Mayor, he was threatened by the members of the Fast Action Response Team (and who wouldn’t be).
I think the Mayor had his bases covered, because according to the race results we didn’t get official times in the swim or bike portions of the race
So that’s the COMPLETELY UN-TRUE story I made up about what REALLY happend at the 2011 Chicago Triathlon.