by Vasil Koleci
The May 2017 CDPHP Workforce Challenge was a race day I will always remember for the wild weather. When I went into my office at the National Weather Service during the week of the race, I was glued to the weather models, hoping for perfect conditions in which to race. As we inched closer to the race, I will never forget looking at one weather model that had a major severe weather outbreak for the northeast on race night. To make things even more interesting, the model guidance was calling for a temperature in the mid-90s and a dew point in the lower 70s, at race time. I kept telling myself it would not come to fruition. Unfortunately, with each model run, the models came to a consensus that we would have severe weather at some point Thursday evening. The writing was on the wall that the race would be hot, humid and accompanied by thunderstorms around 7:30 p.m.
The race conditions for the 2017 Workforce Challenge race were absolutely oppressive. The temperature was around 95 degrees and the humidity was extremely high. After the race, I remember seeing a lot of medical staff making sure participants were okay. After we finished the race, my co-workers and I met at our designated spot. While everyone was taking pictures and catching up after the race, our eyes started shifting towards the sky. The sky was getting very dark and the clouds were lowering fast. We decided to leave at that point as the sky was ominous. I remember my co-worker Dan rode his bike down to the race. I would not let him ride his bike back in a potential storm and told him to put it in the back of my Jeep. When we were at the side of Capital Park, a huge downburst went through, with 70 mph winds. The back window of my Jeep completely blew out. I can still remember hearing my co-worker Joe asking if the back of his head was bleeding. Thankfully, he was okay and everyone was okay.
It has been a tradition after the Workforce Challenge race for the team to go out someplace to eat. That night I dropped off my Jeep in my garage and someone else drove to the restaurant. After we ordered our food, the power went out in the restaurant. Magically, the power returned just in time for us to use our credit cards to pay for our meals. That night, I remember staying up until 1 AM vacuuming out glass out of my car and taping a piece of plastic on the back tailgate until I could drop it off at the glass repair shop the next day.
The 2017 Workforce Challenge was not a PR racing day, but it was definitely a PR day for crazy weather and events