Background: This tri fit my summer and training schedule well. I know that the reviews from Beau et.al. on the 2010 race were luke warm (literally), but I signed up anyway. Entry fee toped $100. I’m a middle of the pack guy. Race is at Lake Ray Roberts Johnson branch unit (northern side).
I decided early in the season to camp out for this race and even with the heat involved camping was excellent. I don’t recommend camping too close to the public swimming beach where the race takes place, because there is a lot of public camping of families and it’s probably not as peaceful as the wonderful place that I was camping. The park is very nice for camping and I’ll return with the family for a camping trip in the fall after the burn ban is lifted. The heat 100+ made for difficult sleeping conditions, but the peaceful and serene area was a wonderful start on my race. Battery powered fans are essential.
On and off sleep due to heat and excitement, but when the alarm went off at 5am I was asleep. Cars were already streaming into the park for the 6:30am start when I got out of the tent and I got ready in the dark. By the time I got to the parking lot to unload my bike, they were parking cars in that lot as well so I had plenty of company. No real time or place to ride for a warm up. It was dark and the cars were lined up to get to the race on the one road in. I got my gear together and wanted to rack early because it was open racking. Open racking was not as bad as I had envisioned. Sure all the really good spots were taken by the more competitive, but I was able to find plenty of space at a reasonable location.
Note for out-of-towners: There was a little packet pickup for the not-from-dallas crowd, but the number on the bike was held on by twisty ties that need to be cut, very unusual. I’m used to the sticky back kind. Bring a pair of scissors or a knife or something. Swag was good, but the entry fee was high, a wash.
There was very little information given about time or what was happening when etc. at transition. Different distances being raced that day had different start times, (x-50, 6:30am, Oly, 6:40am, sprint 7:40am) and I don’t normally wear a regular watch in transition so I depend on the race directory to tell me 30min or 20min or whatever. They don’t do this. I was going to run warm up, but decided to head down to the swim beach instead.
The transition from the water to the bike racks is VERY long. It takes about a minute or two to run and isn’t the smoothest you’ve seen. In the dark it’s pretty treacherous in bear feet. Just saying. When I got to the beach I did my swim warm up and tried to relax and hydrate. The x-50’s went off with very little ceremony or announcements as did most of the rest of the racers. I was in the third and last wave of the Oly and a 6 foot crossed dressed male in big hair and massive white pumps counted down our start. Awsome!
Went into the warm water easily and worked to find feet and a rhythm. Had both rounding the first turn (sprint bouy) but about 10 yards past the bouy or about 150yrds into the race my hand came up with a fist full of stone from the bottom. Not being able to short stroke it I stood up and ran for about 40 feet. I lost the feet I had been on too. As the swim progressed I tried to find the turn bouy for the Oly, but all I could get was a big face full of the blinding sun. My biggest complaint is that there were no intermediate bouys on the course. NONE. Turn bouy’s only. The x-50 guys got so off course that the boat had to go out and turn them. We watched this and were still unable to find the course bouy’s. If you launch a wave into the rising sun, you need more than the turn bouys on the course. I lined up kayaks and boats and whatever else I could find, but there was no consensus among the racers and the feet were hard to come by. I made the first turn and was picking up the yellow hat races while also looking for a pointed yellow bouy, another frustration, but I swam strong, easy, and well. I even took a kick to the goggles coming around the last bouy. Others did not thrive in that environment. Be prepared for a frustrating swim.
Out of the water in 33min 8th of 22 in my AG I started the long hustle up the hill to the transition area and my bike. No major problems here transition was not too crowded, the waves launched were not too big and the swimmers were pretty strung out. I’m a socks and shoes guy as I have yet to attempt the flying sockless kung-fu mount. Watched the guy in front of me do it badly and struggle with his shoes as I passed him. More reasons not to learn mount kung-fu.
The bike section was on pretty good roads, nothing we Okies should complain about. The course is again a bit odd in that the Oly distance and the sprint distance are on the same course, but the Oly deviates and then returns. A couple of fun/interesting things happened on course. There is a decent uphill on the deviation, just before the turn around, maybe a ½ mile long. After the turn around there was a gaggle of pokey people gassed from the hill. I didn’t want to try and pass them individually, so I cranked up and zipped by. This gave me great speed to start the downhill I had just come up. I hit 35mph on the descent. Fun! Also a word of warning, the merge back into the sprint course was a little hairy. You have a downhill and need to make a hard right while also merging into the back of the pack sprint racers. I timed my gap well and my speed badly. I am glad the Honda accord in the oncoming lane had very small side mirrors and stayed on their side of the yellow line. In the end my bike speed was surprisingly high for me and I was 13 of 22 in my AG. Rolling terrain with some longer hills and a road surface that was fair.
Dismount was fine, T2 normal. Nothing to report.
The run course was a little weird too, multipart deviations and loops. The x-50 racers were pretty confused about where they needed to go at times. I had walked some of the course the day earlier and found most of the turns so I was ready to go. Mostly shade on concrete paths a little crowded at times, but generally ok. Two major support stations which were arraigned to give you 6 chances for water, ice, heed, wet towlets, etc. 2 or 3 water sprayers on course as well. No problems except traffic at the stations. Run course rolls up and down a little. I had to walk only one hill, the big one, about mile 5 of the 6.2. The non-shaded sections were HOT, but the shade was about 80% of the course. I was a hurtin, but completed. The clock was an unkind 1:02 good for 18 of 22 in AG.
Post race stuff was totally missing. Very little edible food (they were cooking pancakes to order.) or water, there was a power aid zero calorie drink thing. Expect nothing and bring your own support post race. Plenty of space in the park behind the finish line to set up. Many people did and my friend was able to hand me cokes and water until I felt strong enough to check out of transition. The band never did start playing or were on break. Shrug.
The disco part of the tri was funny sun glasses a couple of afro wigs and the start dude in drag, who I have to say was a fun way to start the race. My suggestion to the race director is simple. More course markers, bouys, on the swim course and better post race support. Ice cold drinks mandatory and some pretzels, brownies, etc. but even then the sprint racers might have cleaned the place out before I finished. Kiddie pools filled with cold water for sitting in post race would have made me worship the race director. Maybe more information about time and what not in the transition area before the race.
My overall impressions were positive. I was 13 of 22 in AG and felt the race was pretty well run