Monday, June 16, 2014

Gull Lake Sprint Triathlon Race Preview

Well, here is another race preview of a race that is coming up soon (June 28th, 2014), so I'd figure I'd better get this out there for folks to look at before race day.

Sadly, I'll be in town for this race, but the sad part is that it is the same day as my wife's twin sister's wedding, so no mas for me!  It's a shame since I LOVE this race, not only because it was my first ever triathlon, but also since I was last year's Master's Champion (and 2nd place overall; cough, cough, minor brag! ;) ), but it pains me to miss this well run, well executed event.  But enough with the blah-blah, on with the preview!

The Race:  The sprint race consists of a 500 yard swim in Gull Lake, followed by a 10 mile out and back ride, culminating with a true 5K, out and back run.


Make sure you park ONLY in the designated area, just follow the signs!  Last year the race director, Jim Mishler, had volunteers out to help folks to the correct parking area, and while it is about 1/4 to 1/2 mile away, it isn't that bad of a walk / ride (just make sure you wear your helmet on the bike!).

All in all, well planned parking all around, so just follow the cars and park where you are suppose to!


Exiting the transition area
This TA is an all grass area, with more than enough room (as long as you don't hog rack space!) for all the athletes.  Note, this year the map appears to have just two entrance / exits (last year there were two as well) but slightly different locations.  Since it is first come, first served, get there early not only to get your packet, and a good parking spot, but to get that good rack spot near the bike in/out exit.  So once you get there early, you can get out and pre-ride the first 2 miles of the bike, check for the potholes (unless it was repaved).

SWIM (500 yards):

The swim is in Gull Lake and prior to getting in the water for the race (you are free to get your warm up swims in until announced) where they will count you into the water.  This is for safety, but there are boats and you are not too far from shore the entire time.  The swim is a easy to follow, clock-wise swim with two turns that are clearly marked.  The start is a semi-deep water (depending on how tall you are, it was deep water for me!) with a count down.  I believe that it was a three wave start with a 40 and under Men, over 40 Men, and all Woman waves, just pay attention to what your bib says (I didn't and started in the wrong wave, and had to get my time adjusted correctly, oops).  But the swim is nice, and last year I didn't wear my wetsuit, but three years ago I did, just how well your body works in the water.  Jim swam recently and says the water is "not bad" and crystal clear, so looks like the harsh winter didn't do too much to it.  After exiting the water, you have a little up hill run to T1 where you cross the pavement, but the pavement isn't too bad, just watch out for sticks and shell fragments, but those are few and far between.  Just jog on up and get your gear and run to the mount line!

BIKE (10 Miles):
Out on the bike (Note many stayed left, please stay right as much as possible!)

My Strava results from last year:

The bike is an out and back affair, which I'll break it up into three different sections (just repeat on the way back).  The first section is the Mount Line to corner of "B" Avenue / 40th street.  This consists of rolling hills and bad pavement.  The potholes are patched most of the time, but are all marked, with the "best" lines near the double yellow.  But be aware, you should be riding to the right as much as possible as not to get a "blocking" penalty.  But once you turn onto 40th Street heading north, it gets a bunch better.  First section is about 1.5 miles.

The second section is 40th Street to the "S" curve.  During this section, just put your head down and push the pace.  This section is mainly flat and very straight, so this is where you can "look at your stem" and push it.  This section is about 1 mile long.

The third section is the "S" curve to the turn around, and it is 2.5 miles in length.  This section has some shade and some rollers, but another fast section as you get to blow through Hickory Corners with police protection!  Once north of HC, you head to the turn around at Gilkey Lake Road (with more police!), but watch the turn around, lots of loose rocks.  Now, you just repeat the three sections in reverse.  After you get close to the park, get ready for the mount line, as it is almost time to run!

RUN (3.1 miles):

Here is my Strava info from last year:

The Strava data is a little off, I fumbled with my watch as I was running out of T2, but the race was a nice 5K out and back with multiple waterpoints at each mile.  The elevation was slightly rolling, but no major hills and very shaded, so that should set you up for a good run off the bike, given if you didn't cook your legs on the bike!  Plus you can judge how far up (or back) others are of you since you get to pass them on the road.  The traffic control is good with people if they are driving the road and dead center, slow, and with their flashers on!  Good stuff.


After the race, you can jump in the lake to cool down, visit the vendors near the finish chute, cheer on your buddies, and grab something to eat.  The awards ceremony was pretty fast, results were up quickly, and it was just a nice day to be at the park!  Overall, this is one of the oldest tris in Michigan(even though it was put on the shelf for many years), I am glad that it was brought back in 2011, and taken back over by Jim Misler in 2012, because this is a must do race, and it pains me not to be able to race this year (especially being at home for it too!), but I am sure it'll be another great one.  If you have this weekend open (28th of June, 2014) you owe it to yourself to do this classic race!  You won't be disappointed!

No comments: