Ironman competitors stay cool in the rain

There's a saying Jessica Meyers has when it comes to rain.


"In the Army, it goes, 'If it ain't raining, you ain't training,' " she said with a laugh.

Rain fell most of the morning during the 2010 ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta, but it didn't keep Meyers from being the top female finisher in the event.

The rain was light most of the time, and the afternoon saw periods of rain before it picked up later.

It made the course a little wet, so course organizers told competitors to be careful making turns during the cycling portion.

It seemed the athletes appreciated the rain more than those in charge of the event.

"Rain makes it a little messy at times," said Tammy Stout, the executive director of the Augusta Sports Council. "But it's welcome to the athletes."

Thanks to the rain, temperatures stayed in the 70s, and the sun didn't peek out much from the clouds until the afternoon.

Richie Cunningham, who finished second in the race, echoed the other top finishers' thoughts on the cool weather. He said the good course layout helped keep the athletes safe even during wet conditions.

Now living in Austin, Texas, Cunningham said the cool weather, accompanied by rain, was a good change for him.

"It was actually nice," he said. "It wasn't cold, but cool."

Athletes' safety is always a concern, but Stout said there weren't any more spills or collisions than usual in such competitions.

She said the triathlon went as well as expected considering the weather, which probably kept some spectators away. From the perspective of those in charge of the race and volunteering, the toughest part was keeping the food and awards dry.

Sarah McNeese of Atlanta raced for Team In Training, which raised money for cancer research. She called her first race an incredible experience and said the athletes benefited from the rain.

Though she was worried about the cycling portion being dangerous, she said there were no mishaps, and the rain served as a nice cooling system.

"It was great," McNeese said. "I just felt bad for the spectators."

Cool weather expected to continue

The rain might have made roads a bit wet for cyclists competing in Sunday's ESi Ironman 70.3, but it brought welcome moisture and cooler air to Augusta at the tail end of a hot, dry September.

Soft morning rains that picked up between 9 a.m. and noon had dropped 0.27 inch at Augusta Regional Airport by 6 p.m. Sunday, according to Shawn Smith, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service's West Columbia, S.C., office. A similar amount fell in Aiken County, where triathletes rode the 56-mile bike portion of the Ironman.

It was only the second day this month with reported rainfall or a high temperature below the 90s.

Sunday's high was 80, Smith said, and Augusta can expect continued cool weather today as a storm system drops up to an inch of rain on the area.

On Tuesday, the system will taper off, with a high in the low to middle 80s and a tenth of an inch of rain expected, he said.

-- Susan McCord, staff writer