Tag Archives: JP

ELLT 2016 Pic/Video of the Day

when you fail to box out, you get beat…the picture below isn’t from the same game, but its a good picture



ELLT 2016 Pic of the Day

medal-winning form


Pic of the Day – Kentucky, bourbon, and running

JP continues to set the bar high for best places the ELLT trophy has ever been

JP and Chris at Makers Mark

2 Days and a wake-up — odds

Echoing the last two years, I’ve saved the overall odds for 2 days before the event, giving everyone plenty of time to lobby, but also enough time to adjust, as needed. A few words on “odds” and scoring.

  • these “odds” are informational only, as the House is not actually taking bets. $30 covers the keg and a shirt, not a bookie fee.
  • 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 four stages of the race. Appeals to The Commissioner can be made at any time

Odds of winning 1st Place Overall in the 2013 East Luray Liars Triathlon

Trophy Last Day in Virginia

Steve Otto (2012 Champion, 2009 2nd place) — 15-1: Otto flew the race at top speed in 2012, stopped only by a tree on the time trial. In 2011, the field slanted heavily towards the rock climbers and mountain bikers, stages that Otto did well in, but faced crazy steep competition. This year, Otto could medal in climbing, golf, and mountain biking. In hoops, just like last year…well…one of his teammates was on a champion team once. If he repeats his 2012 performance, minus the crash, Otto will be well-positioned for a return to the overall top 3.


JP Ratajczak (2012 2nd place overall, 2008 champion) — 10-1: JP benefits from the rules change eliminating expectations. And his 2nd place finish in 2012 makes him heavily favored this year. If his golf game hasn’t improved, but his basketball teammates continue last year’s success (2nd place in an epic final game), he should be on the podium at the end.

JP with the trophy

Eric Marshall (2012 3rd overall) — 100-1: In 2012, the odds started like this: “Here is your 2012 Easy-Money-Lock Grey Horse contender, a true mudder” and he finished 3rd, which proves these odds are somewhat based in reality.  The real world is keeping Eric off the rocks and away from golf this year, which means his medaling chances are reduced to mountain biking (easily in the top 5, not sure if he’ll crack the top 3) and basketball…where one of his teammates is a 5 time winner.

Eric Marshall and turtles

Dan Moore (2011 champion, 2008 3rd place) — 50-1: Danno remains in contention for rock climbing. His golf game still sucks and he is out of contention for mountain biking. So his chances for the podium rest with with hoops…and his teammates, as it stands now, are both roookies not known for their basketball skills. A first on the rocks, a hole-in-one (resulting in 3rd), and a miracle on the court and Danno could place again.

ELLT 2011 Danno Chistmas time

Eric Shimp (2010 champion) — 12-1: Eric has one weakness — mountain biking. With some luck (meaning mostly bad luck attached to Marshall, Lapham, and Gus) in golf and a solid hoops performance, plus a decent year on the ropes, Eric could very well medal in three events. And, for what its worth — over 5 years of competition, no racer has earned a medal in all four events. If he pulls down three stage medals, its hard to see him missing the podium again in 2013….all depends on golf…

Number 89 New York Jets

Eric Lapham (2010 2nd place) — 100-1: Eric will miss rock climbing due to injury/real-life, but should expect to medal in golf and mountain biking. If Lapham is sitting on two 1st place finishes and the next two stages produce 6 winners without another stage win…The Commissioner, The Race Director, and the head of the ELLT Competition Committee may need to have a special rules discussion regarding GC qualifications…but only if we’re looking at 2 1st place finishes and a messy rest of the field.

ELLT 2010 Lapham unhappy in second place

Steve Ball (2008 2nd place) — 25-1: Revisiting last year’s projection: “Steve’s podium finish in 2008 came from the perfect ELLT strategy: low expectations, a strong liver, and good luck.” With expectations no longer a factor, Steve’s training and actual atheltic execution become the key difference. His basketball team is intact from last year, so a little more experience may help. Cardio and strength training should help on the rocks. He will, once again, get a decent mountain bike and should be able to cut his time trial time by 75%. He will suck at golf…but medals on the rocks and bikes…and mixology skills that reduce the other racers’ skills…and maybe possibly he could be that dark horse surprise winner.

ELLT 2012 Steve Ball Nationals Fan

Steve Schukraft (2011 3rd Place) — 35-1: Steve illustrates perfectly the bias built into the stages and why the golf-and-basketball players are more heavily favored over time against the rock-climbers-and-mountain-bikers. In short, you can get better at biking and climbing more quickly than you can get better at golf (and, to a lesser degree, hoops). So if you have a decent golf game, you’re always in contention, provided you put a little time in working on cardio and some basic rock/ride techniques. Of course, the competition in golf is a bit more intense, with the elite players all very closed matched. All of which makes me think we need to consider a true golf handicap approach for 2014. But for now we have Steve Schukraft, sneaky good at rock climbing and mountain biking, but hobbled by limited golf skills and questionable basketball teammates. If the top three golfers win nothing else and the winning court trio is similarly shut out, medals in climbing and biking could propel Steve back to the podium…but those are long odds.

ELLT 2011 Post Race Steve S 3rd overall

Tom McParland (2010 3rd place) — 23-1: Tom set an impossibly high bar last year with his speech on Thursday night, labeling the rest of the field as runner-ups and making “no apologizations” for his pending abscence. So this year, the pressure is on…golf and rock climbing are a mystery as previous years give no real indications. And we should expect an outstanding time trial, but will be surprised if he overcomes his teammates at hoops. Early success on the rocks, confusion in the GC standings, and a solid time trial and he sneaks into 1st.


Mike Graf – 15-1: From last year: “Every year the Young Liars are convinced Me-Mike has a shot at 1st place overall, which means Mike is terrible at setting expectations low (at least with the younger crowd). This year, Mike’s got an improved hoops team, 4 years of experience on the rocks, and a properly-sized mountain bike. If he trims a couple minutes off his time trial and puts that length to use on the rocks…this could be Mike first trip to the overall podium.” Just needs a properly fitting helmet and we’re looking at a strong contender for 1st.

Graf before biking

Chris Doyle — 11-1: Everyone has benefitted and suffered from Steve Ball’s penchant for muddlers and the morning-after regrets, but only Chris has had his triathlon derailed by Steve Ball’s terrible sense of direction. By following Steve the wrong way on the time trial, Chris took himself out of contention on the bikes and probably used up the extra strength he needed to sink the winning shot in basketball. He has a decent shot on the rocks, could take a 3rd place in golf, should expect to be in contention on the bikes….and could very well be part of the hoops team that ends the Shimpean Dynasty. Gentlemen, your Grey Horse Lock for 2013, Chris Doyle…

ELLT 2009 Chris and Maureen post race

Jason Madden — 35-1: Jason came in 9th on the time trial last year and his basketball team won two games. In other words, he is coasting below the radar and could easily outperform last year’s personal results (although in basketball, he may be a bit more challenged). With a solid showing on the rocks and a little luck on the bike….still some long odds, considering his golf game and hoops teammates.

ELLT 2011 mountain biking Jason at rest

Chris Heffernan – 150-1: Without doing the rocks, golf, and biking Chris’ odds are substantially diminished. He is likely to have a gold medal winner on his basketball team…but….seriously…hard to see a podium finish.

ELLT 2012 Hoops Chris Chris Jason rugby

Gary Cavanaugh — 12-1: This is Gary’s year. He will compete in the first six stages (including Muddling) and is a serious contender in golf and basketball. All he needs to do is complete rock climbing and mountain biking, medal in the other two events, and he is a lock for the podium. A first in golf and hoops and he gets his first overall championship.

ELLT 2012 Hoops Gary gets serious

Tom Gustafson — 100-1: Without rock climbing, Tom’s overall chances are diminished…..but…he could repeat in the green jacket and his 2012 mountain biking time was shockingly fast. If – huge if – his basketball teammates can step up and play fast, quick, high-percentage shooting hoops, he could step up to the podium. But…he’ll need extra help, especially if he falters even slightly on the golf course.

ELLT 2012 Hoops Gus and Danno

Eric Gundrum — 150-1: Real-life is taking Eric away for the final three events, so he will need to win on the rocks and the golf course to reach the podium (with help), but….that seems unlikely (at least on the golf course). He has, however, provided the absolute best basketball jerseys for Team Guinness…(and I can’t find a single picture of that elusive bastard)

black and tan

John Coliano and Brecht Palombo — 150-1 (each): Rookies have traditionally done well, but those years included expectations in the scoring….so John and Brecht will have to overcome 5 years of experience and a basketball teammate prone to wandering off to the keg in mid-game.


Pic of the Day

posted the preview for JP yesterday…but forgot to include this picture….not a man comfortable with a club….

ELLT 2009 Golf - JP gets set

Handicapping the 2013 Field: JP

Ohio’s own JP Ratajczak, the first Overall Champion and 2012 2nd Place Overall

P1000700JP may be the most decorated ELLT athlete, certainly the only one with 1st and 2nd place overall medals. Every year, though, the questions remain — can he repeat? Will fatherhood slow him down? Can he ever actually play golf?

ELLT 2011 Basketball JP and Eric not a foul -close up


  • Age…one of the youngest and closer in age to some of the Young Liars than the other racers
  • Mad skillz…at hoops and climbing and soccer
  • Dad-strength. Previously, JP got by on the first two strengths, but now that he is a father, he’ll be able to tap into the well of strength and conditioning that comes from being a dad
  • Excellent taste in country music and perhaps the most eclectic tastes after Mr. Chris Doyle. Given the need for post-race balance between Marshall’s Maiden, Gary’s Boss, Lapham’s American Idol, and Schukraft’s Kraftwerk, being able to DJ well is a skill and a strength


  • The colors blue and gold together paralyze him. Three previous weaknesses — age, fatherhood, and concussion-induced wobbliness — are all non-factors now as expectations are gone for 2013, fatherhood clearly didn’t slow JP down, and he seems to be healed of his injuries.


Past Performances:

In 2008, JP was the only climber who came close to reaching the top on the toughest rope at Rumney. His golf game sucked, but we played in Canada that year, so his score was worth .27 more (due to the exchange rate at the time). He biked well and then pulled off one of the most surprising accomplishments in ELLT history — he got Steve Ball to play basketball well. JP won the overall trophy and then followed up the victory with a Stanley Cup-like photo session, setting the bar for every champion who follows.In 2009, with expectations six miles high, JP medaled only in rock climbing (2nd), being one of only two guys to actually use the pink triangle to full effect (that is not what it sounds like). 2010 was the Year of First Losers, as JP tied with Eric Lapham for second place in both rock climbing and mountain biking, where JP had a far better year than the two previous races. For the second straight year, high expectations kept JP off the overall podium. In 2011, JP set the bar for exceptional soccer performance at a level that is unlikely to ever be overcome (if you haven’t seen this in a while, watch it again, but make sure you mute the sound first). JP was then the third of only three climbers who managed to conquer Ben Moeling’s spiderman route, bringing him another rock climbing medal. JP’s golf game sucked and he came in 9th in the mountain biking time trial, but his teammates (Gary and Otto) carried him to a second place finish in hoops. Overall, a very good year, but just shy of an overall podium finish.

steve ball and JP on the rock

Facing high expectations in 2012, JP delivered. On the rocks, JP climbed a 5.10a…yes, a legit 5.10a….that’s like a non-baseball player stepping into the batter’s box and knocking out a double off the Wall on a 92 mph fasteball. Mad skillz, indeed. JP’s golf game was unremarkable, but on the bikes, he came in 4th in the time trial and 3rd in the final MB standings, with a time trial time ride under 5 minutes (one of only 6 riders to do so). And in basketball, JP was on the losing side of an epic 15-14 final game that included at least a dozen game winning shots that missed for both teams. Absolutely brutal tough loss…and it was probably that 2nd place finish in hoops that kept him from being the first repeat champion in the ELLT.

ELLT 2011 Post Race JP bling

Expectations for 2013

He has been training. He has a track record of improving at every event, year after year. He is making a mid-June visit to Newbury to acclimate to the altitude, pay respects to The Commissioner, and scout the biking and possibly golf courses. Without the burden of expectations, its hard to see what would keep him off the overall podium…and back in 1st.


Pic of the Day

happy birthday, ELLT 2008 Champion