REJOICE, IT IS TRIATHLON SEASON! Spring in St. Louis feels as if it will never get here. We spend hours on the trainer, in the pool, and on the road in anticipation of the upcoming season. If you are at all like me you start to lose your mind about the beginning of January. Yes, you can race earlier if you want to travel, but the local scene doesn’t start until the end of April with Race Maker Productions Try Tri at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.
This race has been a staple on my schedule for some years. I look forward to it more than any race all year. It is the beginning of everything that I have worked for over the long cold months. Lee at RMP always makes this a low key event which makes it perfect to knock the cobwebs off the triathlon skills. It never starts or ends on time, the weather is a crap shoot, and the awards are always odd and delayed.
There are two distances to choose from. The long sprint that consists of a 300 yard swim, 20 mile bike and a 4 mile run. The super sprint (my favorite) is half the distance of the long. If you think for a minute that the super is for beginners, you would be making a big mistake. On any given year, some of the fastest triathletes in all age groups are toeing the line for the super sprint. Maybe they feel as I do, it’s short, fast and time to redline for somewhere around 45 minutes.
Race day was cold (brisk maybe) and I knew that it would be unpleasant getting out of the water. But the discomfort luckily would be short lived in either race. The wind is always an issue at this race. Coming out of T2, you head out into the Illinois farmland that always has a decent headwind in store. For some reason, the weather always turns out great for the run.
Show up early! Transition is first come first serve. Though there are plenty of veterans racing, there is still a good number of newbies. This means transition is a mess. Every bike in the rack will be facing the same way with handlebars battling for space. Be kind, and help or explain the etiquette of transition. Once you have transition set up, head to the pool. Because the swim is so short in both races, a quality warm up is definitely in need. Stay in the water as long as you can. The doors are always open and that is the warmest place to be. Get 2, 3 or 400 in while Lee and his staff make final preparations for the race.
The long course goes off first in a time trial start. This year it appeared that they gave a full 25 yards between all racers. It was definitely that way for the super, but I may have missed the spacing for the long. It takes a while to get all swimmers for the long in and out of the water. The long course goes up and down in the same lane while the super goes up one and down the next. On your last 25, aim for the stairs and not the wall. If you think you may be cold on the bike, a great idea is to put a jacket on the bench at the top of the ladder. This will give you time to put it on while running to your bike. The run from the pool to T1 is about 200 meters on concrete and grass, but is in good shape and easy on the feet.
Into T1, grab your bike, and head to the mount line. Once out, you need to make a couple of quick turns until you get out on the course. You head off the campus and grab a long fast downhill. Push it here, this will be the easiest part of the ride. Down the hill to a hard right and over a bridge that will jar your teeth loose or eject a water bottle at the least. This is the out and back section of the course. The super will turn at the 5 mile check point/cone and the long heads out to the 10. The headwinds back have been brutal most years that I have done this. Negative splits are difficult. You make a hard left after the rough bridge, and you guessed it, up the long downhill that you enjoyed on your way out. This hill hurts if you are pushing! Power numbers and heart rate will blow through the ceiling. Back onto the campus and into T2.
The run is a simple out and back on a black top trail that can get hot in areas without shade. The super has most of the shade, and the long loses it after the 1 mile turn around. The long goes to 2 miles and turns and the goes to 1 mile. Both runs end on a very short, but painful uphill to the finish line. Go up the hill, take a hard right and 25 meters to the finish. Lee makes the finish personal and always tries to acknowledge all participants. Even after the awards start, he regularly interrupts with a finisher shout out. Awards are always different. He has given umbrellas, special T shirts and sunglasses for podium finishers.
This is a great, fast, tough, early and close race. I will be here every chance that I get. Give the TryTri a try, you won’t be disappointed.
My results for the super:
1st in AG 45-49
Tons of fun with a lot of great people and Evolve had as many kits as the big clubs this year! Great to see all the blue and green!