"Completion not competition" makes this a GREAT triathlon for first-timers.
Looking forward to this!!!!! The staff rocks and the event it amazing!
7/17/10-RocktoPier Run-2hrs 33 minutes (6miles)
7/25/10-SLO Triathlon-2hrs 48min (.5swim-15mbike-5krun)
SLO Triathlon is a family tradition at our house. From grandparents to grandkids, team or individual, you cannot help but to have a good time and you don't have to be a super athlete to participate.
Went to support a friend last year and swore that I would enter for myself this year. Now I've just gotta hit the pool!
I participated in the 2009 edition, and it was my first tri ever. The organizers do a great job and the community really embraces the event. I had a lot of fun.
The bike ride and the run are tough! The bike course is very scenic but the rolling hills wipe you out. I trained on mostly flat surfaces which was a mistake.
The run had one tough hill but that made crossing the finish line that much sweeter.
The staggered starts, necessary because of the pool swim, really makes you clueless as to how much time has elapsed and things like that. That's the only thing keeping me from 5 stars. But overall, this is a great challenging event to try out a tri, and SLO is a great little California town.
Grew up in SLO.... Looking at the course map it's going to be a hot ride and a hilly run - but train on some hills and it should be a good race! Miss SLO Town.... might have to sign up one year and actually do this one....
The problem is that the sport has evolved so much from when these organizers started the event and they have not adapted to the new ways. If you've done other races, you'll be nothing but frustrated.
First off, it's a pool swim, so the race is really spread out over the course of the day. But they don't zig zag the pool, they give each racer half a lane and an unlimited amount of warm up time, which certainly doesn't speed things up.
Having picked up my packet the day prior, I arrived roughly three hours before my assigned start time, looking to get body marked, set up in transition, grab a light lunch, and ralax/warm up. I couldn't go into transition without being body marked - fine, normal. I went to body marking, they told me I had to go to checkin. I told them I picked up everything the day prior, and showed them all of it. They said I had to sign the USAT waiver. I told them I was a USAT member, showed them my card, and they said they could not help me, to talk to checkin. Problem was, the line for the checkin was long. All told, I was about an hour long. When I finally got to the table, and presented my ID, the volunteers began trying to retrieve a packet, whereupon I told them I had picked it up the day prior. She asked if I had paid my USAT day fee, I said I was a USAT member, and presented my card. She said, "Oh ya, I think I wrote this number down yesterday. Go ahead to Step 3." Step 3 is body marking. I went.
Transition was a free-for-all, the biggest frustration being that there was no way to know if a space on a rack was taken or not, as it could easily be someone on the course. At any given time people were aimlessly meandering around transition, and racers were coming in and going out, via the swim in, the bike out, the bike in, or either of the run outs, both of differing length. Volunteers proved unknowledgeable and unhelpful in the transition fiasco.
Since a light lunch was now out of the question, I went in search of some athlete food. Surprise, there was none, just some water and gatorade and an orange slice or two at the finish. There was a large table of fruit and cookies and water that was volunteer food, and had a few volunteers guarding it to keep the hungry (and paying) athletes away. I ended up hitting the vending machines in the pool area after talking my way past the volunteer/bouncer.
The swim was, unsurprisingly, behind. Whence finally allowed into the pool, we were greeted by another line, which took over an hour to get through. All in all, my start, originally scheduled for 12:50pm was more in the vicinity of 3:15pm. The timer at my lane then proceeded to tell me to warm up as long as I liked, and just let him know when I was ready to start.
Listen: I respect what the SLO triathlon is trying to be. There is a great feeling of personal accomplishment and an eschewing of competition. It feels like it could be a safe place for a first race, and a safe place to just get out and finish. And they've been this for a long time. But the sport is much bigger now than it has been, and athlete expectations have changed. Along with the feeling of personal accomplishment that was in the air race day, there was also a discernible feeling of racers-against-staff - no doubt the "new-kids-on-the-block" racers butting heads with the "we've-done-it-this-way-for-thirty-years" volunteer staff. I imagine a stubborn and bull-headed race director who refuses to concede superiority of any other organization model, not even those that are similar and work exceedingly well (Memphis in May comes to mind).
And before you say that I'm missing the point, that this is a family race, and it's meant to be a day in the park, and no one's competing so I should lighten up, let me remind you that they are now proud of their new USAT affiliation. They've joined the club. They now need to step up.
This race could be a lot of fun if you know what you're in for. If it's your first race, you will unfortunately come away with a gross misrepresentation of what the sport is actually like, how it's organized, and how it operates. If you've run a few other races, you will probably think they're quaint in their organization, and if you've run a lot of races, you'll be angry and appalled. For my registration fee I received over four hours of various line-waiting, a general bad-mood and defensive attitude, a lowered USAT age-group ranking for 2010, and the knowledge that never, under any circumstances, will I sign up for the SLO triathlon again.
They could have, at the very least, thrown in a banana.