2016 Matt Mason Cowboy Up! Triathlon
Sunday, August 7, 2016, 7:00am
Crows Creek Park, Smithville Lake
Smithville , MO
The event's official page can be found HERE.
I've been waiting to write a preview for this one for a while. I was a registered participant in 2014 when it got cancelled due to some pretty nasty storms moving through the area. Last year I had a conflicting race on the calendar. Finally, it's time to cowboy up! Smithville lake is one of the larger lakes in the area, so it's no surprise that this one tends to attract a fair few participants every year. Plus, the cause is great: This is basically our hometown "Support Your Troops" triathlon, in honor of Matt Mason, Navy SEAL that was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011, after over a decade of military service.
In fact there's a quite nice story on the race's website. How could I not want to support such a cause? Count me in.
Two opportunities to pick up your packet prior to race day...
AND one more...
Race Day Parking
Not much information listed on the website, however if they follow suit from 2014, the roads will be marked really well, and volunteers will corral you in to the parking area without issue. Like Saturday's packet pick-up location (mapped above), the race start is at Shelter 5. In 2014 (and, based on reports, from 2015 as well), parking will be in the grassy areas to the south (and east) of Shelter 5 -- and I have no reason to suspect it'd be any different. It's a quick walk, especially for early-arrivers, who can park pretty much next to bike-out at transition.
Of note, however, for the not-so-early-risers, Roads start to shut down at 6:30am, making entrance in to the park increasingly difficult (and, eventually, impossible). The first road to shut down will be the only inlet on to the "peninsula" that houses transition: Crows Creek Shelter Road. Parking will be possible along outer roads, but as the website warns, the walk can be up to 2 miles in length, making an on-time start next to impossible. So arrive early.
You will not be able to leave the parking lot until the last cyclist comes off the course (the run route is on trails -- more on that below).
Race Day Quick-Facts
Good news for anxious swimmers: This is a time-trial start. In other words, athletes enter the water one-by-one, lined up according to estimated swim time (faster up front). No mass starts...everybody wins. I'm mixed on it: I like the time-trial starts, but with this sandwiched between Midwest Regionals and Age Group Nationals, I sorta need the mass-start practice.
Anyways, standard sprint distance applies: 500m. One loop. Out from the beach next to Shelter 5, and a counter-clockwise "box," returning to nearly where the start was. This is a substantially bigger lake than others in the area (i.e. SMP), so chop is more likely, particularly if there's wind.
Transition is located between Shelter 5 and the beach. Run-Out is in the western-most end of transition, and Bike-In/-Out is located at the eastern end. Swim-In is along the northern edge, according to maps.
The bike route is new for 2016. No longer are the 180-degree turn-arounds of yesteryear. Instead, the route is an 11-mile "lollipop double-loop" of the park roads south and east of the lake. The "stick" of the lollipop is Crows Creek Shelter Road (which turns in to Crows Creek Campground Road as you approach N Hardesty/Hwy E), followed by a right-turn quick stint on Crow Creek Road. Finally, the "lolli" of the route is a clockwise double-loop comprised of eastbound State Hwy E, a right-hand turn on to southbound Short Ln, a right-hand on to westbound NE 156 St (which bends right in to Long Rd, and then bends left in to NE 160 St), and finally a right-hand turn on to northbound N Hardesty Rd. That will take you back to the start of the loop at State Hwy E -- now do it again!
After the second lap, it's back on to the stick: A left-hand turn off Hardesty on to State Hwy E/Crows Creek Rd, then an immediate left on to westbound Crows Creek Campground Rd/Crows Creek Shelter Rd.
The entirety of the course is paved country roads with rolling hills. Amazingly, nothing "significant" (all are under +100ft), though there really are no flat spots. The first half of the course is net-uphill, while the second half is net-downhill, however really the difference only comes when you get to the road in to/out of the park (Crows Creek Shelter/Campground Rd) -- the double-loop is pretty neutral. It's not difficult per-se (again, no significant climbs, although a couple come close), but it's not easy, either (those rollers really eat in to your legs).
The only real burner I highlighted on the map below. It's just short of a significant climb (<100ft), but not by much (+87ft).
Standard-sprint-course-5k applies here. Along a good portion of the southern shore there is a multi-use trail that is mostly flat (VERY mild undulations). No significant climbs, out-and-back, pretty views of the lake. Enjoy it.
Really nothing more to say.
As I wasn't able to actually race in 2014, I didn't have the opportunity to put together a course preview (plus it's a new route anyways). But there will be for the 2017 preview (assuming they don't change the route again). Either way, once the race is said and done, I'll post a solid on-bike video on my YouTube channel.
That's all I got for now! See everyone at the start line.
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