Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tri One On Father's Day Sprint Triathlon

Back to racing...
Almost four years away from the sport and I'm ready to 'catch the bug' again.

June 16, 2013  -  Port Washington, New York

Simple is not always best. I have done this event in the past and enjoy it's proximity to my in-law's home as we usually spend Father's Day weekend there and have recently been spending summers on Long Island so our son can attend summer camp. While I appreciate events that keep things simple and have great courses, there is greater attention paid to details. When simple is not done well the experience is unpleasant and threatens an events future. With the proliferation of  events, consumers have more choices and events that do not go above and beyond will lose out.

Sign-up/Price:  I am not a fan of the IMAthlete registration process, but it is fairly simple. Overpriced for an event with little benefit.
Pre-Event Communication:  This event does a good job being proactive with emails and offering pre-race swim clinics. Beginner and first time participants will find comfort in the communication and step-by-step process set up by event director.
Packet Pick-Up:  Interesting tactic by this event, there is no pre-event packet pick-up, they mail event packets and then participants need to check in onsite and pick up timing chip. I got my packet the week of the event and was ready to go. Race day timing chip pick up was a bit of a cluster as signage was confusing and unclear for race day registration and those pre-registered and just needed timing chip.
Goodie Bag:  Average. Nice fabric 'backpack' bag (good to see events getting away from plastic bags). Run of the mill 'tech t-shirt' (all mass produced event 'tech t-shirts' are basically over-sized 100% polyester women's underwear). Assorted inserts.
Venue:  Nice contained beach park venue with plenty of space for parking, transition and spectators.
Course:  The course in years prior was good, nothing spectacular, but safe, flat and fast. The new management group made some changes that hurt the event. First off, the transition area was totally unfair with bike out & in and Run out in the same place created an unfair advantage in rack placement. The swim course was changed to an arc from one point on the beach down to another and the distance was short of the half mile. In the past, the swim was an out across and back in to shore, and the correct distance. While the bike course is flat and fast and similar to the past, the changes have made it unsafe and short. The event director, instead of closing an additional section of road, created a dangerous two way traffic pattern that had large amounts of participants in a head-on situation. The run course modifications were not dramatic, but created a shorter then 5K run course.
Course Markings & Volunteers:  Terrible. The swim had some buoys, but again, the placement made for a short swim course. Another issue on the swim was the use and seeding of swim cap colors. Smart race directors know that when you have a wave with swim caps the same as the buoys, that wave goes last so swimmers are not sighting and mistaking a swim cap covered head for a buoy. There seemed to be adequate swim safety personnel in the water and on the beach. The two loop bike course was void of markings and lack of volunteers in key places had resulting in numerous participants going off course and confused. Other than a turnaround cone, the two lap run course had no markings and had one intersection where runners had to cross through oncoming runners. The division to do a second lap or go to the finish was poorly marked and the volunteer made little effort to help and be vocal to direct runners. The finish chute was basic and forgettable.
Finisher Medals: Basic
Post Race Food:  A table at the end of the finish chute had water, oranges and bananas, was not manned with volunteers. A pathetic effort.
Race Photos: One of the few highlights of the event and nothing the event management had control over other than hiring the group to take pictures.
Post- Event Communication: Like the pre-event communication, emails were timely and offered a discount for finishers to enter the 2014 event.

OVERALL: This is a no frills race with many hazards for inexperienced participants. The changes from prior years saw improvement in communication, but mismanagement of course setup and staffing. I will probably do the race again because of the location and convenience, but do not recommend making a trip from too far away (New York City) to participate as you will be disappointed.

Embarking on a new season and reintroduction to the sport of triathlon is exciting and I felt a few of the pre-race nerves the morning of the event.
I woke early, had some breakfast and made the short drive to the race venue. I racked my bike in a terrible location based on the unfair transition set up and the overcrowded racks at the advantageous end, but I was not too concerned as I just wanted to get through the transitions and not looking to make up time there.
I prepped my gear, got into my wetsuit and headed to the water for a warm-up. The water quality has never been good at this venue so I made my early venture into the water short and to the point.
I had a fair amount of time to wait as I was in the sixth wave, all separated by five minutes. As the fifth wave entered the water and our wave assembled behind them, I could see there was going to be some confusion, the fifth wave had the exact color swim caps as the buoys.

Lining up in the front and inside closest to the first buoy I set my sights on going out hard to get space and then find feet to draft.
Then horn sounded and I was out front. I quickly caught the back of the previous wave and was cursing the race director for the swim cap color decision as I came up to sight and had to take extra effort to discern between a head and a buoy in the distance. Hitting a good pace, navigating slower swimmers and hammering into the beach, I exited the water with a solid swim.
My wetsuit removal was pathetic and slow.

I was soon on my bike, got clipped in and hammering. Then came the traffic and course confusion. Whoa, there was head on traffic and unsafe distances between large groups, the first little out and back was treacherous. Once past the clogged course, I got some room and put the power down. Coming through for my second lap I saw my wife and son on the side cheering, a good pick me up. I carefully navigated through the danger out and back section back to open roads. Some good burn in the legs for a big effort, I love going fast on the bike.
Smooth dismount and transition to the run (other than having to go all the way to the end of the transition area to turn around and retrace my path for the run out).

I found my legs and started feeling good about my ability to run off the bike. I focused on maintain a good pace as I came around for my second lap and crossed oncoming traffic (hazardous).
Through the finishing chute with a good hard effort.

Looking for a little post race nutrition and hydration, I found a table with some fruit and water strewn about.
We stuck around for what seemed like an eternity to get my award, waste of time.
If this event were not so close and my familiarity with the course, I would be disappointed with the money spent for this crappy race. While I'll probably sign up for it again next year, I am hopeful there are improvements.


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