Sometimes, you have to feel for race directors. You try to think of everything, and sometimes you just miss the obvious. Unfortunately for @norcaltriseries, the 1st Annual California Sprint Triathlon did not go at all as planned. To say many Age Groupers were upset would be an understatement. To make matters worse, not everyone ended up completing the same course, so comparison among the athletes will be impossible.
The first indications that things would not be going as planned was the announcement that the bike course, originally scheduled for 15 miles, would be changed to 14 miles due to construction in the local area. This was no big deal, But when I exited the water only 18 minutes after the start (still darn near last of my Age Group), it was an obvious sign that the swim, too, had been shortened from the advertised 1/2 mile to the more standard 1/4 mile or some other distance (there is NO way I swam .5mile in open water in 18 minutes).
Fortunately, the bike portion was just as advertised, at least as told during the morning.
The run, however, is where everything fell apart. For some reason, the distance shown on google maps, and the actual distance, were considerably different. Some runners ran 5.8 miles, and others (us slower triathletes) ended up running 4.94 miles. In the middle of the race, the decision to shorten the course for those athletes unprepared to run such a distance was made. Right or wrong, this instantly made the results unusable by just about everyone except the leaders.
USA Productions which hosted the event (timing provided by SVE Timing) is usually very sharp and their races usually a pleasure. For me, this triathlon was a just a warm-up and get back-into-it race, something I was merely doing for training. However, had this been my “A” race for the year, I would have been a little bit more than peeved (and several athletes were). For most of us non-competitors, we had fun, despite the race distance faux pas. And, in an attempt to make it up to the racers, @norcaltriseries has offered a discount for all Sprint Triathletes on an upcoming USA Productions race.
So, to summarize: Not one of the distances (swim, bike, run) was correct. You can make a lot of mistakes, but you should never make a mistake in the distance of the race as large as was made during this race. Fortunately, there was plenty of food, and plenty of support, and plenty of volunteers, to drown your sorrows at the end of the race.
The most difficult part of the race for me was the run. Not the distance, because as an ultrarunner, I’m not normally even warmed up by mile 6. However, it’s very difficult to pace yourself, to know when to kick in the “afterburners” if you have no idea just how far you’re going to be running.
On positive note: The water was a wonderful temperature, and the weather was excellent for a triathlon.
Unfortunately, as this was only my second Sprint distance in two years, the mistake in distance does not allow me to compare my times. I feel like I’m in better shape, but I can’t prove it.