I made a trip out to California last weekend to race the legendary Wildflower triathlon. When I first started the sport I always wanted to do this race, but for whatever reason I never made it out west in May. I was a bit concerned that the drought would turn this race into a duathlon (or bike/run TT), but Tri-Cal did a nice job of finding a way to make the event work, even with a lake sitting at 4% capacity.
They turned the event into a swim/run/bike/run event in order to access the one area of the lake that still has water in it. It also included a pretty epic T1(A) to get to the start of the first run (Pic below). We then ran a challenging couple miles along the sandy lake bed before making our way up another steep boat ramp into T1(B). From there we rode the normal bike course and another 11 miles of the standard run course (a modification near the end took out "the pit.")
The swim and first run went relatively well. I swam with a good group, ran up the steep hill, then ran what felt like a controlled tempo through the first run. The sand and terrain made it fairly challenging, but I like run courses that don't particularly favor even pacing.
The bike course is a mixed bag: It is hilly to start (good climb at mile 3 of the course), then it eventually makes its way across a fairly flat, to rolling, valley, before sending you through a series of climbs in the final 15 miles. I rode through the first climbs fairly well, lost a bit of time on the flats, then rode a little better again when we hit the final climbs.
The final run of the day was ~11 miles and incorporated most of the run course, while excluding "the pit." I had heard that this course was tough and it was/is. After a couple rolling miles you make your way onto the trails and for several miles it seems like you only run uphill. The climb during, what would normally be, mile 7 of the run course is particularly challenging; it has the type of gradient that makes you debate whether walking (or sitting down) would make more sense.
Without having done this race before, I couldn't really get a sense of whether I was running ok or not and I spent the majority of the run in no man's land, not seeing anyone in front of me or behind me. Ultimately, I didn't change position after the first couple miles and I finished the run in 5th place; I actually believed I was several more positions back so it was a welcomed surprise.
The first race of the season can always be a bit of a shock so I was glad that things turned out well on the day.
I also got to check out Jeffrey's in San Mateo the next day...
Until next time WF...
See you in Texas in two weeks,