Overall, I would say that I was pretty pleased with the organization and execution of the Maritime International Triathlon. It’s one of the biggest tris I have done, and sold out at 400 people. One of my Tri friends had recommended SetUp events to me as a company that put on good races, and I have to agree. Additionally, the SetUp races are pretty reasonably priced, especially if you sign up early. Transition was organized by bib number, the course setup made sense, and they let us in the water early to warm up. They did a pre-race briefing the day before, with both a transition briefing and an actual course safety briefing, and then we drove the bike course. Always drive the bike course before a race, it’s actually really important and it made me feel relaxed because I knew I could handle it. The parking situation on race day was also easy to deal with and they definitely had enough volunteers making sure people got their chips and got to the right places, etc. The bathrooms were further out of transition than I would have liked, but it wasn’t too bad.
Swim: The swim actually had an in-water start, because we started by jumping off a pier. This terrified me when I went in for my warmup swim. What do you mean I won’t be able to walk in slowly? However, it worked really well. There is a lowerable part of the pier, so you stepped down and then were in about a foot of water and then you jumped in. The edge of the pier was marked with several noodles, which were visible. I held my nose and jumped in on both the warmup and the actual swim. For the actual swim, we then made our way out to the edge of the pier and waited for the gun. It was good because it gave us a chance to relax in the water and get up to the start line before the gun went off. Set Up actually let us in the water to warm up from 7 a.m. onwards. I got in around 7:45, because I didn’t want to freeze while waiting.
The swim course wasn’t bad, just endless, and I got soooo thirsty. It was pretty well marked – orange sighting buoys were about every 125ish meters, pretty evenly spaced, and the water temperature was actually pretty perfect compared to my fears. I wore a full 3/2mm wetsuit, and plenty of folks were in sleeveless suits. I double-capped, partly to avoid my goggles getting kicked off and mostly for warmth. I was not at all cold, except the period between my warm up swim and starting the swim. There were lifeguards in kayaks and on surfboards, but there weren’t as many of them as I expected and they were further out from the course than I expected. I kept telling myself I could rest if I passed a kayak and needed to rest, but I didn’t actually pass any because they were on the move. I could have signaled for one, I know, but I didn’t need to rest badly enough for that and was buoyant enough in the brackish water in my wetsuit that I could really just float on my back and kick a bit if I needed a rest. I had been warned to body glide my neck and other spots the wetsuit might hit, because of the salt water, but I forgot to use/bring chapstick so after the swim, my lips were really, really dry.
Bike: The bike course was open to the road, which made me pretty nervous initially, but the intersections were really well managed and I didn’t have to unclip or stop once. I slowed down and signaled at all turns because it’s good habit, but it wasn’t necessary. The course was marked pretty clearly with neon arrows at every turn and it was hard to imagine being able to go off course. The volunteers with the flags were cute and enthusiastic (I would guess high school, but possibly college) girls who would cheer and wave their flags, and there was also a police officer at every intersection to stop traffic and they did a great job. Cars mostly stayed out of the way and the pavement for the bike course was extremely nice for anyone whose been cycling in a city and avoiding potholes on the regular. There were a few spots with a bit of dirt or gravel, but nothing bad. Passing was pretty easy and the shoulders on the busy roads are so wide you could ride on the shoulder and be passed on the shoulder. The course was indeed flat and fast. There were maybe two or three “decent” hills, by which I mean hills that required you to shift down. The wind was pretty bad – we had a headwind the first half to the turnaround, so my speed was pretty low on the way out – 14-15mph but on the way back I was riding comfortably at 17-19mph.
Run: The run course was not my favorite – we were running on the wide shoulder of Route 33, which is a pretty big road. There was a turnaround at the end of the run course, and then you went back on 33, so we were running with the runners going the other way on our left, which made it feel narrow. The upside was you got to see all the other runners, but when you’re at the back of the pack, you feel a bit disheartened. It was two loops of a 3 mile course, which I wouldn’t have minded if it was more scenic. The other problem with the two loops is that the faster people were passing the slowing people when the fast folks were on their second loop and the slower folks were on their first loop. However, it was nice for the spectators hanging out in transition. The parts of the course that weren’t on 33 were gravel, so again, just not a great run course. It felt like they picked a great swim and bike course, and had to sacrifice a bit on the run, which is understandable. I would rather have a calm, flat, easy entry/exit swim and a low traffic bike course than a scenic run.