Two days before the race begins is usually the right time to post odds on every racer’s chance of winning the overall 1st place champion trophy. Since this will be a crazy week, let’s post ’em 3 days and a wake-up from the unofficial start.
Copying previous years’ disclaimers:
- these “odds” are informational only, as the House is not actually taking bets.
- the “odds” are on winning first place overall, not just reaching the overall podium and/or finishing the race
- The Commissioner has reconfirmed that reaching the overall podium requires completing all five stages of the race. Appeals to The Commissioner can be made at any time
Odds of winning 1st Place Overall in the 2016 East Luray Liars Triathlon
(doing odds only for racers competing in all five events, with just four events scored. If a racer skips soccer, he may/may not be in contention for the overall – that’s up to The Commissioner) (we have 14 in contention this year)
Reigning Champion: Eric Lapham: in 2015, Lapham’s odds were 2-1 to win and he overcame all those obstacles and finally earned the champions trophy and stein. We’ve never had a back-to-back champion, but this could be the year. His own son beats him at golf, but is slightly injured, giving Eric a shot at first on the links. He drafted the third best basketball player (and the best in the draft pool), so his hoops team will overcome his own shortcomings. Climbing and biking have always been crap shoots, but last year he took first place in the time trail. We’ll leave the odds at 5-1, factoring in the youth movement.
2014 Champion Eric Marshall: When Eric won, he raced on a new mountain bike against a field without Moeling and Roy – this year, with Schukraft missing as well, Eric should be the favorite to win the time trial, if his technical skills can overcome Leo’s all-around bike racing talents. He won’t be in the elite golf foursome, which means less stress and potential for a 2nd or 3rd place finish. Of the old guys fighting off the youth movement – and as a former champion – I like his odds at 3-1.
Two-time Overall Champion JP: Positioned between the youth movement and the seniors, JP’s 3-1 odds last year look about right for this year, too….except: he’s not likely to repeat at rock climbing, given the youths competing this year and the strong likelihood they will go extra hard on the rocks (because they don’t know better); and his basketball team includes Steve Ball. And JP’s kids are older now, which means far less training time and increasing temptations to have an extra beer whenever the kids are being taken care of by someone else. JP will outplay everyone at soccer, but I think he will relax the rest of the weekend, making his odds a simple 10-1.
2012 Champion Steve Otto: As in every year past, including his championship year, Steve’s chances of repeating come down to two events – golf and basketball. He won’t be in the elite foursome, which may help his game (unless he’s with Steve Ball). His basketball team includes a former soccer player and a former smoker. They will be the most physically bruising team, but won’t match up well against the Erics or JP teams. So, like years past, can Otto overcome two major obstacles – mountain-biking without crashing and Steve Ball? And how will Old Man Otto stand up to the youth movement? Looks tough and have to say it’s the same as 2015 at 12-1.
2011 Champion Danno: Always handicapped by founder status and his role in setting the time trial, Danno’s odds are almost impossible to figure out. He should be the best rock-climber, even if the youth movement shows some promise. Of the four scored events, he has the most experience and mad skillz. Every year his golf game improves – 1st or 2nd place are impossible, but a legend-making putt or 45-yard chip-in could earn 3rd. The mountain biking competition will be too good for him to overcome (rules say he has to beat the 2nd-fastest time trail time by 2 minutes). And his basketball team…well, he has the #1 overall pick, one of few players who played competitively in recent years. And he has a ball-punching, gut-grabbing skier who plays basketball with double black diamond mad skillz. In other words, Danno will not medal at hoops. But if the golfers cancel out the basketball players and the bikers suck at everything else and Danno completely outclimbs the pack – an unlikely repeat champion at 13-1 odds.
2010 Overall Champion Eric Shimp: Falling between Lapham and JP on the sandbagging scale, Eric has been surprisingly quiet leading up to this year’s race, which makes me think his training has been inspired, consistent, and possibly deadly to the rest of us. Last year he had to overcome the Dave Fetter Effect, but this year he’ll be unencumbered by prodigy (see Lapham, Drew) or chaos brothah (see Ball, Steve). He won’t win at golf – but could sneak into 3rd. He won’t win the time trial. I expect he will use rock climbing to put the youth movement in its place and his basketball team includes the player with the highest hoops IQ and two rugby players. For a guy who thinks he’s the cul de sac coming of Steph Curry, what could be better than two teammates who battle down low? 2-1, unless Steve Ball takes control of the prologue stage, which would drop Eric’s odds to 20-1.
2013 2nd Overall Mike Graf: One of only two racers to complete every stage every year since 2008, Mike is due. With teammates JP and Steve Ball, he will be in contention for a hoops medal. He’ll climb well. He should be biking better now after a couple years back in hilly Pittsburgh. And with the return of rugby mates Chris Doyle and Tom Lovell, he could quietly take the Eric Marshall approach to winning it all. Plus, Maeve always picks him to win, so can’t be any worse than 5-1.
2012 Rookie of the Year Jason Madden: Rides well and can overcome almost any teammate’s shortcomings on the basketball court. If he makes it to the first three stages (soccer, climbing, and golf), he may go into the last two stages with one medal in hand (climbing, not golf) and a solid shot at two more. As in year’s past, Jason should be helped by the golfers cancelling each other out and not too many strong climbing/biking racers this year, which makes his odds a better-than-respectable 4-1, if he makes all five stages.
Steve Ball: Tanned, rested, ready, with perfectly gelled hair, an improved hoops game, and the Chewbacca to his Han Solo along for the ride, this could be his year. And I’d like to meet his tailor. After a year off, we have every reason to believe Steve will bring consistent form and we should expect the same results, which would make his odds pretty high, like 50-1. But he’s a sponsor this year (see the shirts) and we all know I am easily corrupted, so, with some help from his basketball teammates and a shocking year on the rocks, maybe his odds are more like 15-1.
Chris Doyle: Along with college rugby teammate Mike Graf, no one has so consistently competed and come close, without quite winning it all. He has the best court sense, plenty of mountain biking experience, and no fears on the rocks. Someday he’ll play golf well and pull together a string of steady performances in a year when there are three different first place finishers and he’s on the #1 hoops team. Likely, this is the year. He returns rested and ready. He’s been doing high-altitude training with Graf. He’s the least likely to be intimidated by the youth movement. I like his odds at 3-1.
Tom Lovell: Bringing back his rugby mentality and understanding the triathlon better now than in his rookie year makes Tom an exceptionally strong competitor. He climbed and played basketball far better than expectations in 2014. His golf game didn’t completely suck and he rode middle-of-the-pack. Which means he needs to medal in climbing and biking to reach the podium, with an extra boost from his hoops team – with overall champion and multi-year basketball champ Shimp and first-round draft pick Doyle, they are the favorites – to reach the top. But….he’s bringing along his son, which could be inspiring for the old man or pressure-inducing, bringing down his game. And if the youth movement runs the table over the first three events, the rest of the old men will blame Tom, among others, and likely seek on-the-court retribution (beware of Gary setting a pick). Absolutely have to like his odds, although he’s the opposite of a dark horse. Let’s say 3-1.
(can’t find the ELLT 2014 pictures)
Green Jacket Extraordinaire Tom Gustafson: Last year’s write-up seems spot-on: “The challenge, every year, for Gus is showing up for every event. If he can get through soccer, find Metro Rock, and hold his own on the bikes and basketball court, he could medal in something other than an almost guaranteed 1st or 2nd in golf.” Every year he is either wildly over or under favored, so this year we’re going with a simple X-1, with “X” representing whatever Gus wants it to be.
Max Madden: Last year we said, “Youth, actual linebacker speed, under 21, competing against his father. On a basketball team with the oldest racer…the last 18-year-old who raced admitted to being overwhelmed by the relentlessness of the weekend. On paper, one would think a young racer with no beers slowing him down and a football pedigree would be the favorite, but experience lowers his odds to 8-1.” This year he knows what’s coming, he’s got the same basketball teammates, and the rookies aren’t old men with old man strength and smarts – they’re kids compared to Max. We’ve never had a under-21 champion, but this could be the year: 4-1.
Rookie Drew Lapham: Under normal circumstances, Drew would be the favorite to win at golf, a strong contender on the rocks, and a wild card for hoops (with Otto and Chris Heffernan, its more like a moon shot than a wild card, but since Steve Ball has a first place finish in basketball, we know anything can happen). His father reports he’s injured his wrist, yet his mother mentioned nothing to The Commissioner, which makes us wonder if the Lapham Sandbagging Technique is not only being passed down, but aided and abetted by the old man. If Drew can win at golf and if he can survive on the rocks and the ride, he has a chance at the podium. Overall champion? 19-1.
Rookie Owen Lovell: a true wild card, a college sophomore rugby player, a product of Lexington, Virginia, and a complete unknown in this race, something we haven’t seen before. Wild guess – he will over-compete at soccer and rock-climbing, mess up whatever golf game he might have, hang well on the bikes, and show up for basketball more exhausted than he expected, considering his age and the average age of his competition. Because he is a mystery, he’s teamed with Owen Heffernan (coming off a week of basketball camp) and me for hoops, playing in a special one-team-wild-card bracket. All told, his odds are fairly low at 12-1, which means I’m probably completely wrong.
Rookie Leo Heffernan: Despite 8 years of watching and sometimes playing basketball during the triathlon, occasionally tending bar, and always giving up his room for racers, we’re not sure Leo comes into the race with any extra advantages…other than actual experience doing a simple 3-stage triathlon, actual experience racing on a bike, and actual experience playing competitive hoops. In short, he has the best odds of any rookie, until you consider his golf game is sub-par and his basketball team includes a mountain biker and a golfer. He’ll need to medal on the rocks and in the time trial to reach the podium. To win overall, he’ll need mixology help from Steve Ball (undermining JP and Shimp) and Gus’ best basketball evah. His chances, 9-1.
Racing, but not in overall contention: Gary, Jason, Chris Heffernan, and Amit Sharma.
Not racing this year for a host of reasons: Steve Schukraft, Dave Fetter, Ben Moeling, Greg Golden, The Grey Ghost, and Eric Gundrum