Pan-Am Champs

The results say I was DQed, Disqualified, and yet somehow went a 1:54. The time doesn’t make sense to me because I never actually finished.

Here’s the rundown.

8am – Wake up, eat breakfast, read my book, watch some CNN (only english channel.

9:30am – notice the surf is quite a bit larger than the past couple days, and the faces are probably 10ft on most sets.

9:45: check in my bike to transition, find out the race has been delayed 30minutes, which puts our start time at 12:20pm. I jog back to the hotel and look at the weather report to see that our race will be somewhere over 90 degrees – I start drinking the coldest water I can find.

11:10: i do a short swim warmup in the hotel pool, then a short bike warmup on the hotel stationary bike.

11:50: I jog to the race site, drink more cold water, do a short warmup and discover that 8-10ft faces are quite a bit of fun to swim through.

12:20: the gun goes off. I’m the third guy to make it through the set that’s coming in as we charge the water. Ahead of me is Matt Chrabot (he’s excellent at getting under waves, thanks to beach lifeguard experience) and next to me is someone else I didn’t recognize. We closed on Matt slowly, then the unknown guy disappeared in the last 500m. I came out of the water about 8 seconds behind Matt, and quite a bit ahead of the rest of the field.

2008-4-19_Mazatlan_Pan-Am_Champs 026 Bike: Matt waited for me, and together we extended our small lead to 2.5 minutes over the 40k bike. The course was an out and back with hair pins at either end, completely flat, and entirely in the sun. I tried to conserve energy, but the heat started catching up to me, and heading into the run I could already feel my system shutting down.

Run: Matt took off with a vengeance, and my only hope was that if I poured enough water over myself then maybe I could cool down and get a second wind. After the first lap I was in pain, but hanging on. Then my stomach started revolting. I began to throw up almost continuously, and none of the water I tried to get in me would stay down. At the 5k a pack of six men passed me, putting me in eighth. Soon more runners started coming by, and though I tried, I wasn’t able to match their pace.

The third lap I hit a wall, then spent the next 3km trying to recover. That’s when things get a little blurry. I remember a guy coming by me on the last stretch. I tried to go by him as the finish shoot came into view.  The words, "Everyone’s hurting, just go," were repeating in my head.  Then my legs gave out. I was on the ground, and the words, "forward progress is only allowed on two feet" were repeating in my head. (the ITU rule is that you cannot crawl, summersault or otherwise make forward progress during the run.) I tried to stand up, but my legs betrayed me. I grabbed the fence and tried to prop myself up, but my legs wouldn’t extend below me.

By this time there were several people trying to help me up, trying to get me medical attention. I fought them off as best I could ("no outside assistance"), but then I must have passed out because I remember nothing else until I was being carried from the ambulance into a hospital with 2008-4-19_Mazatlan_Pan-Am_Champs 017 the Canadian Team Doctor standing over me directing a team of medics, Mexican doctors, nurses, and my Dad. I had no idea where I was. I couldn’t remember my name, let alone what city I was in (or country for that matter). Somehow I remembered that Matt had been winning, and though I couldn’t remember his last name, I asked if Matt, the American, had won. He had, which made me pretty happy. At least somebody gained from our cycling heroics.

I was in the hospital for a couple hours. the diagnosis was Heat Stroke, and if it weren’t for the Candian Doc, I would probably have been in much worse shape. I’m supposed to stay out of the sun for a few days and take it easy.

Published by Ben

Ben Collins Professional Triathlete

Join the Conversation


  1. Wow. Great effort. Keep fighting off people trying to get you medical attention. Glad that you are alright. You need to get back to Hawai’i for some heat training. You will get ’em next time.

  2. Nice work! I’m glad you didn’t die out there. Heat stroke is serious business, my friend. Rest up and get healthy. Still a great effort and shows promise. Now, come back to Seattle and vacuum our floors. They miss you.


  3. thanks everyone.

    I’m feeling a lot better, though I’ve been seeping, watching movies, reading books, and eating for the past two days, so I should feel better.

    What I’m inspire by is Matt Chrabot’s performance. Not only did he pull for two thirds of the bike, but he also coached me while doing it: “relax, keep the HR down, pull through smoothly”. And my favorite moment of the race was when I pulled through to Matt shouting a Vince Vaughn quote from Swingers: “You’re so money and you don’t even know it!”

    Then he went on to win, which is pretty money.

  4. Dude!

    Don’t you know haole boys like you shouldn’t be out in the noonday sun? We agree with Rory, you need to come back to Hawaii for little warm weather training. You can practice charging the sets at Lani’s while you are at it.

    Miss you, glad you are O.K.

  5. Ben,

    Forgot to tell you, everyone here loves the HIC sunscreen you gave me to try. All the boys are using it before surfing & I took it to a birthday party on the beach and it stayed on the kids and worked great throughout the whole day of surf, sand and whipped cream fights.

    Thanks again

  6. Ben,


    Those 10-15 foot waves sound like ridiculous fun in a race. Well done getting out near the front (Do you know what happened to that other guy?) and pulling away with Chrabot on the bike was awesome (you’re right, Chrabot was Very Impressive).

    You know, it’s downright shameful that the ITU insists on mid-day starts for races with hot temperatures. You don’t see important 10ks or marathons starting at mid-day in Mexico, why do triathlons? It’s so wrong, but the sad part is that it will probably take somebody dying before they would consider changing their wrong-headed policy.

    I did a ITU Tri in Guatemala back in 2003 with similar conditions, but the water was like 86 or 87!!! Needless to say, I didn’t make it, dropping out after jogging for 2 miles on the run. Also, I suffered heat stroke at the Chicago Triathlon, also in ’03, finished but almost passed out shortly after finishing. I remember it vividly still, very painful and scary.

    I’m glad you’re all right. Take heart in a great swim and bike.


  7. DUDE!

    That is crazy. Man, I’m so sorry to hear about that. I agree with Greg – really lame that they started so late. :-/

    In any case, you still inspire and you still rocked it…until of course the conditions got the best of you. Way to fight everybody off and stick to the rules. 😉

    I’m just glad it wasn’t any worse and glad to hear you’re getting better. Rest up and heal quickly so you can go kick more butt!


    p.s. Love the Swingers quote…

  8. hello
    (my english is not very well, then i write in spanish) soy triatleta mexicano y estuve en ese evento, mas no como elit, competi por la mañana. vi toda su competencia y me quedo gravada la imagen de tus ojos en la ultima vuelta corriendo, le dije a mi amigo: “el ya se ve mal”. tambien vi el momento en que caiste antes de llegar a la meta. solo te puedo decir, gracias por esas imagenes que se quedaran por siempre en mi memoria y sobre todo por esa gran enseñanza: da todo en la competencia y que nada ni nadie te detenga!!!

    Espero que estes totalmente recuperado y nos veremos el proximo año, ahora soy elit y seria un gran honor competir con usted.

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