Last summer it was a goal of mine to do an Olympic distance triathlon this summer. The Lake St. Louis Triathlon is the closest one to me, so I kept a watch on it knowing that it has filled up quickly in the past. When the information about it was released, there was a change in the bike course for this year—due to road construction in the area, the long and short course would have the same bike route of 15 miles. Well, there went my goal of doing an Olympic distance race this year.
I debated whether I should even sign up for it or not because of that distance change. It also irritated me that the price wasn’t decreased. I get that it takes a lot to put one of these races together, but I didn’t think it was fair to charge the full amount when we weren’t getting to do the full distance. That, or I feel like they could have found a way to do the full 25 miles for the bike. The race organizers did limit the number of registrants by almost half to help with the changed bike course and congestion.
Those feelings aside, I went ahead and signed up. I have a USAT membership and I wanted to make use of it. New Town had already removed the USAT sanction from that event, so I wasn’t getting my money’s worth yet. However, I felt like I could still get a feel for the event by doing the full distance of the swim and run portion. Plus, there was one free practice swim included for registrants. (Practice swims for the New Town tri cost extra).
I did the practice swim the week before and felt really good about it. It was going to be my longest open-water swim event, so I wanted to be familiar with the course before hand. I drove the bike course afterwards, making mental notes about various things. There here hills, but nothing terrible. Plus it was only 15 miles.
I just felt like something was off that whole morning. We made it out there just fine, but that was the last that went smoothly that morning.
• Walking into the transition area, we noticed how narrow the bike and run in/out areas were, along with the amount of room available when crossing the finish line. Not a super big deal, but there would likely be congestion. Noted.
• I had a difficult time finding where I should rack my bike. I was used to looking for a group based on my bib number, but instead we were grouped by our swim wave start. I know every race is different, so I just brushed that off and got settled into a spot.
• Since our ankle tracker wasn’t given to us in our packets, I had to go find that along with body marking. Well those two areas weren’t clearly marked, and most racers didn’t know where they were going. I felt like it was disorganized, but again, I tried brushing that off.
• After the first group of racers got in the water, the sky started to look not-so-promising and there was an extra wait while the weather was being checked out. That’s totally fine because when it comes to swimming in water, you want to make sure it’s safe. Well, I think we waited a bit too long. I was 2/3rds of the way through my swim (feeling pretty good), when all racers were stopped, told get out of the water, and directed to the closest way out. That meant the swim portion was being cut short and no longer mattered. So then I had to run through a random part of a neighborhood and find my way back to the transition area. I had hunt down a race worker and verify that we were still doing the bike portion because none of the racers really knew what was going on.
• Did I mention I got kicked in the face during the start of the swim? Because I did and it wasn’t pleasant.
• Almost all of the racers got out on the course at the same time, so it was crowded. Whatever, I can deal. But then maybe two miles into the race, there were pretty scary lightning bolts right in the direction we were heading. Not just thin ones that move across the sky, but thick, bright ones going straight down. Then it started raining heavier with bigger drops. I was almost to the halfway / turn around point when racers were stopped and told the race was officially cancelled.
At that point I was flat out annoyed. Why in the world, if we were pulled out of the lake because of lightning, would we be sent out to continue the race? I realize it’s up the athlete’s discretion to continue on in inclement weather, but I feel like the race wasn’t handled the best. It’s just not the racer’s safety that has to be taken into consideration, it’s the volunteers and spectators, too. I was in the middle of no where, so it’s not like I could have found shelter if I had needed to.
On the way back the rain started coming down even harder and the temperature had dropped so I was quite cold. Everyone out on the bike course kind of hurried to get back to get out of the oncoming storm, but at the same time took their time because it was no longer a race. I’m honestly not sure if I will sign back up for this race next year. I realize that some of the things that happened wasn’t the race organizer’s fault, but looking back on how things felt super disorganized and how the weather situation was handled doesn’t really entice me to try it again. We’ll see how I feel in the spring when the new information on the event comes out.
So the race didn’t exactly go as planned, but I’m still glad I got a taste of how this race worked. I don’t have any races coming up for this fall, but I have a few goals in mind. The first one is conquering a specific hill near where I live.