Wednesday, August 28, 2013

2013 Jackson County Triathlon and Duathlon event review

August 18, 2013, saw the Jackson County Triathlon and Duathlon go off without a hitch. Cool morning air gave way to a wetsuit legal swim with water temperatures hovering around 75 degrees and air temperature reaching the low 80’s as the last racers crossed the finish line.


The skies were clear all day as racers enjoyed one of the most mild August days in recent Kansas City history. Traditionally hot times of the year for the Midwest gave way to almost cold conditions to start the race.

The Jackson County Triathlon was under new ownership as the former Race Director helped indoctrinate Elite Cycles into the world of event management. Triathletes and duathletes finished the race in high spirits with overwhelming positive views on the race and management.

The Jackson County Triathlon and Duathlon hosted 3 courses.

The Long Course - Results
Swim: 1.5 KM
Bike: 40 KM
Run: 5 Miles

The Short Course - Results
Swim: 750 Meters
Bike: 11.75 Miles
Run: 3.1 Miles

The Duathlon - Results
Run #1: 1.4 Miles
Bike: 11.75 Miles
Run #2: 3.1 Miles

After the morning dew evaporated and the last triathlete was across the line, your favorite Endurance Sports Examiner writer toed the line. Below is what we thought about the 2013 Jackson County Triathlon and Duathlon.

The Price


If triathletes got in for early bird pricing, they only paid $75 to race and distance. Waiting until the last minute shot the price up to $125. Overall this is the median with most local triathlons around Kansas City. Some of the Johnson County Parks and Recreation events are a little less, but the larger events are more such as the Kansas 5150 and Kansas City triathlons.

Packet Pickup


Packet pickup was moved to Elite Cycles. This location is more central to most racers and offered the opportunity to purchase last minute gear for athletes. With three chances to get your packet, athlete should not have had an issue getting their race info and packet.

The event organizers decided to hand out shirts at the finish line, so athletes came away with some coupons, a copy of LAVA magazine, swim cap and race number bib. It’s a double-edged sword as some would complain about not getting a huge goodie bag of samples, but more often than not, most of the coupons and postcard flyers go into the trash and few samples get used. It’s better than the “virtual” goodie bag, but less than the full-on goodie bag other events might supply.

Web Site / Instructions / Course Info


The website was easy to navigate and direct. It supplied course and event information and directly gets athletes to registration. Course maps were linked and athletes didn’t really leave the site with a want for more information.

The event had a Facebook page and posted occasional updates on the event and requests for volunteers. Most of the communication went through the Elite Cycle email newsletter address. Gone was the Midwest Triathlon Series email list that organizers had used in the past. If racers were not signed up and were not on Elite Cycles’ newsletter email list, they might not have heard about the event if they were a first year participant.

Most questions posted on the Facebook page were answered quickly and most racers didn’t have any complaints about the dissemination of information.

Location / Parking / Access


Parking can be dicey for this event at the Longview Lake swim beach. If rain had come across the day before, parking in the grass could have been a mud run. Luckily, mud was not an issue and as long as athletes showed up at a decent time before the race, it would have only been a 10 minute walk to transition to set up.

Longview Lake has been home to this for most of it’s existence. The swim beach is a perfect location with access to water, roads and trails for the run. The exit and entrance for biking can be somewhat bottle-necked, but as long as athletes were cautious, it was not a problem.

The entrance into the swim beach and transition access parking closed at the start of the race, so if spectators arrived after that, they had to park on the main road and walk.

Port-a-potties


There were 15 to 20 port-a-potties for the event. The lines remained somewhat short and wait time was not as much of an issue. The longest wait was around 10 minutes.

The Actual Course


Sections of the bike course have been recently paved, but there are portions of the bike course that are in serious need of paving. But, that’s not something the race organizers can exactly control.

The wooden bridge is still there, and some athletes were still worried, but to our knowledge everyone made it across safely and no accidents at the bridge were reported.

On every turn, police and radio operators stood watch to help keep riders on the right path. The turns would have been hard to miss.

The swim was changed up a little due to low water levels, and the change going further into the lake made it a little difficult to sight into the sun with race buoys, permanent pencil buoys, lifeguards and wave runners. At times is was hard to find the next correct buoy to swim to and where to turn. Overall it wasn’t a huge issue even with some noise from swimmers that the course might have been a little long. In the end, all swimmers swam the same distance, so it was an equal race.

On the long course run, the aid stations were appropriately spaced, however, if there had been more racers, the 2 to 3 volunteers per station would have been overwhelmed handing out water and energy gels. Luckily the temperatures stayed below 80 for the majority of the race and hydration was not a key issue.

The crushed gravel path was in great shape after decent rains in the area the week before the race. Athletes had no issues with running the trails.

The turn-arounds were well marked with cones and markings to let runners know where to head back to the finish line.

Race Day Instructions


The announcer kept in constant contact with racers and spectators. The speakers were appropriately turned up and facing the athletes and start area so you could hear and understand the directions from most anywhere around the start area.

They did need to make a few more announcements about racer meeting starting on the swim beach. The meeting started and if racers were not paying attention, they might have missed the athlete meeting before the race on the beach.

Finish Line


The finish line was a truss with a timing clock counting down the time. There were volunteers cheering people into the finish line through the cones and banners as the announcer reeled off names of finishers.

Volunteers grabbed timing chips off racers’ ankles, handed out finisher shirts and beer mugs and sent athletes towards the grub and drinks.

Bananas, grapes, beer, water, sports drinks, pop and a few other assorted foods awaited finishers. Athletes should not have had an issue finding something to quench their thirst or hunger after racing the short, long or duathlon courses.

A few triathlon clubs had tents set up at the post race area, but overall it was utilitarian of providing post-race sustenance and getting athletes from finish line back to transition to pack up and head home.

Elite Cycles hosted an awards ceremony for the top 5 men and women at each course with gift certificates and then a drawing for several pieces of gear. The aim was to have racers stay around for camaraderie after the event and the ceremony and giveaway provided a little more incentive for athletes to hang around after the finish.

Overall Impressions


The 2013 Jackson County Triathlon and Duathlon is under new ownership of Elite Cycles. They employed the previous race director to get them over the hump of running a bike shop to event organizers.

Most athletes appeared to have a great time and didn’t have many negative comments. It should be interesting to see which direction the event goes. Will they become more flashy like Ironman type events with medals, sign-up shirts and finishers shirts? Will prices go up?

Hopefully the new ownership means bigger and better things on an otherwise already solid event at the same budget friendly prices. Time will tell.
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