Now that I'm back in home for a few days I thought I'd take the chance to write a fuller report on the my trip last week to Monterey County, California and the 2009 Wildflower Triathlon festival.
First I'll explain why it's known as a triathlon "festival"...
The race is held about 30 miles north of El Paso Robles in central California in the state park on lake San Antonio. Over the 2 days 35,000 spectators, officials, volunteers and insane triathletes flood into the park for the hardest triathlon course and race I've ever experienced!
Some would say I'm not yet experienced enough (only 12 triathlons into my career) to be a proper judge of a tough triathlon course but in the past 18 months I've learned this general rule, flat is easier and hilly is hard. Following that mantra Sunday's race was crazy!
The swim was great, out in front with another athlete for the whole 1500m taking almost 2 minutes out of the 3rd place swimmer and more than 4 minutes on the pack. From there we headed out onto the bike course straight onto a huge 2km climb, the climbing seemed to last for quite a while with me only feeling settled once we had reached 15km. I managed to hold top 3 until the 30km mark and by the time we had entered transition for the second time I was in 6th.
By this time the sun was beating down on the race with temperatures hitting 28 degrees Celsius. I made sure to grab plenty of fluid, my cap and sunglasses before heading out on the 10km run. I quickly ran back into 5th place but the path soon turned toward the sky and we climbed strongly from the 3-8km mark. I was shuffling by the top of the accent but had managed to hold off most of the pack still inside the top 10.
At the 8km marker the run took a sharp downhill turn and headed back toward the finish line, due to the screaming behind me I became aware of the fast approaching home team athlete. With 500m to go the road flattened out and he passed me pushing me into 10th place, as I got nearer the finish line however I started to take in some of the cheers from the 1000+ spectators out to watch the finish. With not much left in my legs I mustered up everything I had left and decided to sprint for the line. The runner in front of me had a 30m gap so I had my work cut out but luckily he had started to take in the home crowds cheers and didn't notice me storming up behind him, passed with 5m to go! 9th place.
Realising that I had probably just made an enemy I immediately ran back once across the line to shake hands/hug/congratulate the other triathlete. He was a great sport though assuring me next time he'd run across the line a bit faster.
It was a great experience being able to race in essentially the triathlon capital of the world as well as being able to put in a solid performance at my biggest race so far with 3500 athletes in my race. Now it's time to rest up, spend some time with my family and be ready to race again on May 17th.
Enjoy the pictures,