Chris Arrington Reviews the Capital of Texas Triathlon. “The best part was how spectator friendly it was”
Capital of Texas Triathlon
Monday, May 28, 2012
Who Are you?
As a triathlon noob, I did this race as my first official tri. I’m a husband, soon-to-be father, and a military man. At 27 years old, I only wish I had started down this road sooner.
Active Duty Military
Austin, Texas, USA
Why did I do this race?
Last fall, I decided I was going to be a triathlete. However, work dictated that I’d be living out of my suitcase for training. I began looking for races in the vicinity of my next duty station and found this gem. I signed up for the full Olympic distance because it scared me to think that I’d be skipping the sprint distance.
Austin was close to my home, a very cool looking city, and a fun looking event.
A one loop, 1500m swim around Lady Bird Lake with buoys. We began by walking out on a dock to go past the sensor pad, then jumped off to tread water for a couple minutes between two buoys. Once the gun fired, we started on our rectangular-shaped course.
The water was 81.2* despite being flushed out that night, so only a few folks wore their wetsuits.
Right after the second turn, there was about 25-50m where I could feel the vegetation growing from the lake bed. It didn’t slow me down as much as it caught me by surprise.
The shore and pedestrian bridge over the course provided a spectator friendly view of the swim.
For the 40k bike, there was a 4 lap, non-drafting course through downtown Austin. There were six 90* and two 180* turns. There was one “hill” where we went up the short side coming out of a 90* right turn, took a 90* left at the top, and rode down the long backside into a 180*. To provide some perspective, the minimum elevation was 427ft and the maximum was 550ft. So it really wasn’t a doozy. The gradual uphill heading north on Congress Avenue was 470ft to 545ft in 0.8mi.
There weren’t any aid stations, but it was advertised so most people had their water bottles out there. I didn’t mind because the course was pretty fast and open due to multiple lanes throughout most of it. The only real choke points were the two 180* turns, but I found those a lot of fun to shoot out of.
Since the course was pretty tight and looped, it provided a great opportunity for spectators to watch for their athletes. I enjoyed seeing my wife so many times.
The 10k was made up of two, flat 5k loops. Running out of transition, we took a right to see the western end of the park before circling back to run right back through it and back into the city.
With 3 or 4 aid stations, there was plenty of opportunity to get water/Gatorade. There was also a Cliff bar/Power shot station right around mile 1 and mile 4.
This was another successful portion for spectators as, just like the bike, it was tight and looped. I saw my wife 4 times and she didn’t even have to move far from the finish line.
Since I was in a small division, I enjoyed the benefits of having a very secluded transition area. The volunteers made finding everything very simple, and they had the layout well memorized.
There were folks helping with wet suit removal, but since the water was 81.2* they weren’t over burdened at any point that I saw.
Congestion was not an issue in my area, but that could’ve been due to the division breakdown. My transition area only had a couple of hundred triathletes, whereas the other sections looked almost twice the size.
Communication from sign-up to race weekend was amazing. I had regular emails and updates the entire 5 month wait.
There were two course talks and rule briefings, one at 230pm and 500pm. I attended the 230pm one to get a better understanding of any rules I may have missed. The briefing was concise and quick. Questions were easily answered, and I walked away more comfortable about the following day.
Packet pickup was on the far wall from the entrance of the Expo. This created a very long line through the middle of the Expo, which in turn created congestion. Since it was on the far wall, I could only see two signs when I walked in; Olympic and Sprint. After waiting 30 minutes, I was within 5 people of the front and a lady pointed out that in the far corner was the Military division table.
Everybody was amazing on race day. From staff, volunteers, and representatives, everyone seemed to be out there for the joy of it.
Top Triathlon Tips
While these may not improve your performance, I sure wish I had known this.
- Bring baby wipes or your own toilet paper. The porta potties were out by 645am, and my wave didn’t go until 734am.
- Bring your own nutrition. There was one table of some GU pack on the run. I brought my own food and was rewarded by only being fatigued at the end instead of hungry.
- For packet pickup make sure that if you have a roof-mounted bike rack, you look for an alternative to parking at Palmer Event Center. We approached from the western side and didn’t see that we were going into a 1/4mi driveway to the parking garage. Upon seeing the height limit bars, we had to turn around in the middle of the driveway. Embarrassing.
How did you do?
I shot for a 3:00:00 for my first triathlon and enjoyed a 2:44:45. The entire race was a blast and at no point did I regret making the decision to go all out. Swam well enough, biked faster than normal, ran better than expected. A great day for me.
I’m signing up for next years. The best part was how spectator friendly it was and how easy it was for my wife (7 months pregnant) to get around and get to places to see me. Staff, vendors, and volunteers were awesome, and the other folks competing were generally very nice.
The only thing I’d really improve is the packet pickup layout. I felt as though time was wasted for staff, athletes, and vendors alike because of the massive line punching through the middle of the Expo and congesting foot traffic.
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