Race Radar: Maryland’s Savageman Triathlon

  • By Bethany Mavis
  • Published Aug 27, 2014
The essence of SavageMan is the Westernport Wall. The climb is short, but brutal. If athletes make it all the way up without falling, race organizers engrave their name in a brick and it gets cemented into triathlon history.

A long-time favorite in the Mid-Atlantic, the SavageMan Triathlon Festival is known as being a “true test of endurance and courage in a venue like no other,” says race director Greg Hawkins. About 1,000 athletes are expected once again over the two distances (a “70.0” and “30.0”), with 25 racing both distances over the two days.

The course is held at Deep Creek Lake amid the pristine Allegheny Mountains in western Maryland. The swim takes place in the crystal-clear lake, the bike course winds through smooth, remote and challenging roads in Garrett County, and the run takes athletes on Deep Creek State Park trails and lakeside roads. The highlight of the long-course race is Westernport Wall, a short but brutal climb on the bike (reportedly the steepest in triathlon), where—if you don’t put a foot down the whole climb—you’ll have your name engraved in a brick laid in the road.

“This is not a PR course!” Hawkins says. “It was designed to be a course that challenges hardcore athletes in a setting of unparalleled beauty.” Athletes keep coming back for not only the relentless hills and stunning scenery, but also for the fun atmosphere. “Because the course is so hard, we make a lot of effort to keep the course fun with folks in costume, kooky motivational signs, and busing hundreds of spectators to the Westernport Wall to cheer on athletes as they attempt to summit the 31 percent grade,” Hawkins says. “It’s an experience like no other.”

RELATED: 10 Hardest Races On Earth


What: SavageMan Triathlon Festival
Where: Deep Creek Lake, Md.
When: Sept. 13–14, 2014
Distance: 70.0 (1.2-mile swim, 55.7-mile bike, 13.1-mile run) and 30.0 (0.9-mile swim, 22.9-mile bike and 6.2-mile run)

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Bethany Mavis

Bethany Mavis

Bethany Mavis is the managing editor of Triathlete magazine. She's a mom, rec soccer player, multiple half-marathon finisher and is learning daily how to become a better triathlete.

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