I raced the Wildflower Olympic distance triathlon this past weekend.
I skipped this race the past two years because of the water level in Lake San Antonio and the revised funky race format – swim, run, bike, run. I signed up early this year, convinced that El Nino would deliver abundant rainfall and the event would be back to normal.
When I rode my bike down Lynch Hill on race morning to pick up my packet and rack my bike, I saw the “lake” for the first time – it was so sad: Nothing but dirt, with a small slither of water down the middle.
But, the race conditions and course set up were great. The swim took place at the other end of the lake, where there was plenty of water. The swim course was set up with a clock-wise swim and, as I said – plenty of water. It was a good course and good swim.
The twist is that you have a 2.2 mile run after the swim back to T1. Actually, I kind of liked this change up. It was nice to get part of the run out of the way.
The bike course is unchanged from prior years. As those of you who’ve done this race in the past know, you’d be hard pressed to find a tougher Olympic bike course. I think this year’s bike leg was made more difficult – times were noticeably slower – by the hot weather and maybe the “T1A” run leg from the swim finish. Who knows? I love the bike course – climbs, fast descents, and great scenery.
The biggest difference (and I do mean “big”) is the run leg. Good news: It’s only 4 miles off the bike; the bad news: 1000 yards of the run is up Beach Hill, and that was a killer. Lot’s of run/walking going on.
There’s no way to compare run times to prior years. Looking at run results, I’d say a 60 minute 10K was pretty darn good.
But . . . and here’s the key point of my race report. What I came to realize and remember over the course of a fun weekend and race is that regardless of the lake level and race format, it’s still WILDFLOWER!
This race is top notch – professionally organized, well set up, etc. The Cal Poly students who volunteer are fired up all day – lot’s of smiles and cheers. (And, need I mention the Cal Poly naked run on Saturday evening!)
A unique aspect of this race is the camping. It truly is the “Woodstock of Triathlon”. Where else can you sit under the stars the night before the race, drink a beer, talk and get to know your friends a little better. Outstanding.
So, back to the title of my race report – Shame on Me. Shame on me for skipping this race the last two years. This race is one of our sport’s most iconic events. It’s a great weekend; a lot of fun to do and it deserves our continued support.
Next year will be the 35th annual event – put this race on your 2017 calendar!