Monday, July 9, 2018

Respect the RD! Meet the San Rafael Crew

With San Rafael taking place this Sat, we thought we'd re-visit this interview from February. Get out and race!

Continuing our ongoing "Respect the RD!" series, Utah Tri Buzz contributor Christopher White had the opportunity to talk with the three awesome dudes who collectively run the San Rafael Classic.

Word on the street is that San Rafael is a great race with a friendly, grassroots feel... worth checking out!

Last July I traveled to my hometown down in Emery County to compete in the San Rafael Classic Triathlon, which is held every July at the Huntington State Park. This race holds a special place in my heart. It was the first triathlon I ever did way back in 2008. I met up with race directors Wade Allinson, John Karren and Emery County Sheriff Greg Funk to talk about the race.

L to R: Greg Funk, Wade Allinson, & John Karren

How long has the San Rafael Classic been running?

JK: We started in 2007 as a fund raiser for the Emery County search and Rescue. Nobody here gets paid by anything that goes on here, everybody is a volunteer. That’s what the race was created for and that’s why we do this, to benefit the Search and Rescue.

All three of you are the race directors right? How long have you all been doing this?

WA: This is my 3rd or 4th year
JK: 9 years
GF: I’ve been the Emery County Sherriff for 7 years, part of the race for 3 years

What is your favorite thing about directing the San Rafael Classic?

WA: I like the early morning. Just before the race starts, everybody is excited and it’s just fun.

Chris at his triathlon debut, the San Rafael Classic in 2008

JK: My favorite part of being the race director is when the race is over, honestly. Another favorite part is watching the kids' race. We have an open water swim that the kids do. There are kids that are really, really fast and really competitive. Actually some of those kids are doing really well as they’ve gone through the ranks and do well competing against adults. If you look around this place, it’s a really family friendly environment. Everybody camps, everybody hangs out. It’s super low-key. Having the search and rescue here is great. This past year felt really easy, everything was dialed, everything was super smooth and everybody knew what to do. We had a lot of support, a lot of volunteers, a lot of manpower.

GF: Truthfully the best part of this race is the participants. I've been part of the race three years, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Next year is my final year as sheriff, and mark my words, I will do the race this year.

We’re going to hold you to that!

GF: You better. Whoever beats me this year gets an extra medal.

JK: We’re gonna have a competition called “Race the Sheriff.” We’ll hand out medals and if you beat the sheriff you get a coin.

Chris had a lot more energy in 2014

WA: I think what we ought to do is give him about a ten minute head start and whoever catches him first gets an extra award.

Are there any inspirational stories you can think of as race directors?

GF: I would definitely like to talk about Jana White. She's actually won this race. Her family is really close to all of us at Search and Rescue. We did participate in a rescue for them. She lost both of her parents in an accident down here. They have been phenomenal supporters of us. They show up every year and participate in the race. Kudos to Jana and Brenden White and their kids, Cooper and Cam.

JK: For me there are a lot. There are a lot of people, like you, where this was their first triathlon. I don’t know if you ever see the back end of the swim but there are a lot of people that are barely getting through this thing. For me, it’s about getting people off the couch, getting all these kids off their computers. If you look around, none of these kids are on their phones. These guys are all on their bikes, they are jacked up for this. For me that’s the best thing. Jana and her husband are really good friends of mine. We swim together, and I’ve known them for a really long time. They are near and dear to us. There are a lot of rescues that happen here so this race means a lot.

The San Rafael Classic is an official Challenger Race in 2018. 
Check out this post for more details: Utah Triathlon Championship Series!

WA: What I like about this race is about two months before the race here in Emery County you see people hitting the pool, you see the road bikes start coming out around town. It’s kind of fun to see people get excited about getting out and getting some exercise in, getting on their bikes and zipping around town. It’s fun for me to see the excitement.

as a reference, only ~90 min south of Provo

Last question: why should someone come down from Salt Lake, Colorado, or wherever they come from to do the San Rafael Classic?

JK: This is the best race in the country. Bar none. If you’re looking to be competitive, there are a lot of really fast people. If you’re looking to just have a good time, there are a lot of people here, lots of family, everybody is here watching. It’s a really laid back, super fun event. We have a big spaghetti dinner for everybody. Homemade cookies, homemade rolls, and everybody camps. For me it’s the race experience. As triathletes we can be selfish. We spend time away from our families training and they suffer a little bit and they sacrifice for us to race. For me this is a little bit of payback for them. We can get away and give them a little weekend away. There are a few families like the Goates and the Bayles families, they have 30 something people coming down. It’s almost like a family reunion for them. They all come down a few days early and stay a few days late. This is the highlight of their kids' summer, coming down to the San Rafael Tri. For me what it’s about is the opportunity to hang out.

Come down to Huntington this year to participate in a great race and to support a phenomenal cause.

Learn More Here!   San Rafael Classic


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