The Few, The Proud, The Savage

Today we have a guest blog from Suzanne Nicolas, Event and Special Groups Coordinator at Adventure Sports Center International in Deep Creek.  She helped organize the Savage Man Triathlon and gives her perspective on the race!

This past weekend more than 1200 athletes from 32 states and 7 countries (including more than 150 from Maryland) came to Garrett County to participate in the “World’s Hardest Triathlon” – The 5th Annual SavageMan.  The brainchild of local athlete, Kyle Yost; the event is managed by Greg Safko of the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation based in Westminster, Maryland.  Their event monies all go directly to research and education.   Team Z – coached by Ed Zerkle – led the fundraising with over $31,000 as of Sunday.

This was my first triathlon (spectator not participant), and it was an incredible experience.  The SavageMan consist of two days of racing – the international, or Olympic, distance of 30 miles on Saturday and the real challenge of 70 miles on Sunday.  The truly insane race both days.  The 70 consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13-mile run to top it off.  The amount of support the locals give is phenomenal: volunteers were everywhere from manning aide stations to painting numbers on athletes to helping at the finish.  And they just showed up at critical points, throwing a party and cheering people on.

The swimmers were happy to hit the water at a balmy 67 degrees, since the air temperature was only 47, but it did make for a chilly exit and dash to the bikes.  This is where the true Savage has to come out.  Garrett County is the heart of Mountain Maryland and this course emphasizes the mountain. Big Savage boasts an ascent of more than 7 miles and 1,950 feet at 22 degrees. However, competitors start at the lowest point in Garrett County, Westernport, only 900 feet in elevation – but you have to traverse the “Wall”.  At 31 degrees and lined with hundreds of screaming townspeople and being tormented by Devils and Demons, it separates out the faint of heart.  If you are able to make the “Wall” without falling over – you receive a coveted brick with your name imbedded into the wall. Very Cool! And it wraps up with a mere 13-mile run.

A highlight this year was the appearance of Dave “The Man” Scott, six-time Hawaiian Iron Man Winner.  At age 57, he came in 6th at just over 5 hours, but he did not earn a brick in the “Wall”.  He did, however, say it truly was the toughest triathlon he had ever competed in, and that he would be back, although he did not commit to participating – yet..

For full race results and more pictures visit  Registration for next year’s race begins January 1 – don’t wait! It will sell out.

Photos are courtesy of the many volunteer photographers from the SavageMan.

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