Well another year and another crack at the local Sports Barn Sprint Triathlon. While I posted my best time of my 4 attempts, read on to learn why I probably won’t return next year.
First the Good. While the 1 hour barrier continues to torment me at 1:00:24, I again shaved a few minutes off of my previous time. I also set a personal record on both my swim and bike times. Unfortunately my run wasn’t the only painful thing about the race this year.
The Bad: The race was largest it’s ever been but the race support wasn’t prepared to accommodate these larger numbers. Here’s a breakdown of everything that went wrong. The transition areas aren’t getting any bigger and at some point the Sports Barn is going to need to limit the field or change locations. You can only fit so many bikes into a set amount of space. The 3 bike racks for 500+ race numbers was a joke as there were 660+ finishers. This was made worse by the fact that race numbers were apparently not by registration date as in previous years. Meaning you could register early and still get screwed on your lack of bike rack space.
Pre-race was even worse. The race table wanted to see your race number to give out your chip and mark your body. Not only was this never required in the past but it doesn’t even make sense. USAT rules state that you only need your paper race number on during your run. Which is why many seasoned triathletes leave their number on a race belt or shirt next to their shoes at T2 – 8 miles from where the chips are handed out. Not only that the race table ran out of chip bands delaying many participants pre-race prep as well as the entire race. Now races start a few minutes late. It happens. But half an hour is ridiculous for a race that takes 40-80 minutes to complete.
These delays and the large number of people led to even more confusion because the 10 watt announcer speaker which was a bit sad years back with 300 participants was totally inadequate for informing and directing 800 people. You could not hear announcements in the majority of the crowd or even down at the starting line. Many people were in the water too early and in the way. Some people even started in the wrong waves giving them an unfair advantage on their times. I know because I passed a 36 yr old female early in the bike course. And since she should have started 4 waves behind me that would mean she completed her swim and T1 in less than 1 minute! Now I’m not saying she was a cheater (even tho she was cheating) I’m saying that the starting line was chaos – especially for newbies. But it sucks for everyone else as her time will show up as much faster than it really was. Heck, if the nearby crowd hadn’t counted down the last 10 seconds with the announcer, racers would have been unprepared for the starting horn. I also passed a half dozen people that didn’t have any markings on them whatsoever and I only saw a small section of the field during the race. Just another example of how poorly the pre-race was managed.
Finally post-race problems. I’ve been doing this race since 2002 and while the race keeps getting bigger the amount of food, drink, and lines to get each have stayed the same. The registration fee is supposed to cover the after race food. With twice as many participants there should be twice is much food. And running out of water is tragic. If the sponsors can’t handle a bigger “block party” then they need to limit the race to the amount of people they can serve. Or perhaps stop the last minute registrations if you can’t get the extra people, food and drinks together at the last minute.
As for me, I seriously doubt I’ll participate in this race again. I train too hard to have my race day messed up by inadequate planning, staff, and foodstuffs. And since Triathlons are the fastest growing sport in the country, I will easily be able to find other better run races nearby.