With very heavy rain in the forecast, a closed bike course requiring many many turns, and my body only 1-week out from Ironman 70.3 Syracuse, I wasn’t quite sure how the Welland sprint triathlon would go!
With race registration ending at 7:45 AM on race morning, we were up very early and out the door at 6 AM, aiming to be there by 7:15 and giving ourselves just enough time to get set up. We didn’t count on the big line-up at registration, and when I heard that the transition zone was closing at 7:45, I started to worry that I might have to do the speediest set up ever. Thankfully, whoever said that was wrong, as the transition zone wouldn’t be closing at all because of the super staggered race start.
With a closed bike course (3 loops of 6.6k for the sprint race – and three 180 degree turns around cones per loop), the race organizers wanted to space people out as much as possible (just imagine if most of the athletes were biking at the same time – that would be very congested and dangerous). Instead, swim waves were spaced far apart, with the first going at 8 and the last around 9:40. For this reason, people were allowed to access the transition zone at any time, but had to watch out for athletes who were already racing.
After setting up, Alasdair headed for the swim start, and I watched some of the race from the transition zone and then from the start of the bike course. It was pouring by the time the first wave started, so I shared a huge umbrella with two spectators. I would have been cold had I not been wearing my wetsuit.
The bike exit became a flood zone, and one poor person’s gear in transition was in the middle of the raging river – I think their stuff was on an overflow rack (they were the only one using it). I was half expecting it to start floating away.
I missed Alasdair as he headed past me with his bike, but spotted him as he reached the mount line. I headed for the swim start, barely remembering to pick up my timing chip at the water’s edge (normally, you pick it up at registration). I did a quick warm-up swim, then headed to the start line.
I found the start of the swim extremely congested, with swimmers on either side of me squeezing me in the middle. I tried to get away but couldn’t at first, then finally accelerated and got out of that mess! The rest of the swim was fairly uneventful. I used the wires under the water as much as possible to sight, but eventually remembered that swimming right on top of them isn’t a great idea, unless you enjoy whacking small buoys or getting tangled in their ropes periodically!
I was slightly disappointed to see how long the swim had taken me – oh well!
I had never done a triathlon with a closed bike course before, meaning no car traffic. In theory it sounded like a great idea, but I wondered whether the number of athletes biking at once would make for dangerous passing and riding conditions. I needn’t have been worried, as the spaced out swim waves really reduced the number of riders at any one time on the course.
I decided to push the bike as much as my tired legs would allow, and was happy with how they responded. The course was flat, and while there was a bit of rain/mist during my ride, the conditions were far better than for the earlier swim waves! There were a few spots on the course where the puddles made us squeeze close to the centre line to avoid the water, but I never had trouble passing people and kind of liked the 3-lap course (a lapped course was also a new experience for me).
I tried hard at the end to get my average speed up to 30 km/h but didn’t have enough time to do it. Still happy with my bike!
The run was a 2-loop course along the recreational waterway, mostly flat with one short steep hill. I pushed as hard as I could, but it certainly wasn’t my fastest running pace. Alasdair had already finished by the time I started my run (his race started 35 minutes before mine) so he cheered for me as I set out, and as I started my second loop. There was one racer who was enthusiastically cheering for every single racer she encountered while running – I’m not sure where she got the energy!
I was grateful for the short run and happy to be done. Time: 1:33:59.2.
I found Alasdair, and we went over to the food tent – it was my first time having oatmeal (Stoked Oats) as a post-triathlon snack! For the first time, there was juice to drink instead of pop – yay! I rarely drink juice (and never drink pop), but after a race, a burst of sugar hits the spot!
All in all, not a bad race considering my legs (and body!) were in recovery mode.
- Time: 1:33:59.2
- Women 40-44: 15/30
- All women: 92/218
- All athletes: 255/470
- 750m Swim: 18:49.6 (2:30/100m)
- 20.6k Bike: 41:42.2 (29.9 km/h)
- 4.8k Run: 28:56.2 (6:01 min/km)
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