2016 Open Options Shawnee Mission Triathlon & Duathlon
Sunday, July 10th, 2016; 7:00am
This event's official webpage can be found HERE.
First off -- it's good to be back writing previews! Sorry for the disappearing act. Now to business...
I feel that the peak of multi-sport season in the Kansas City area (and specifically, Kansas) is marked by a few events: The Legend Free State Triathlon in early- to mid-June, and the Shawnee Mission Triathlon in early- to mid-July. For me, more so the latter, as mid-July is perfect scheduling for those eyeing USAT Age Group Nationals only a few weeks after.
Beyond that, the Open Options Shawnee Mission Tri is just a great race: The bike and run courses are challenging, the field is always large due to the high popularity of the vent, and the charitable beneficiary is an awesome one. Plus, I just love Shawnee Mission Park.
Speaking of, let's check out the venue, shall we?
As of publishing, packet pick-up days, times, and location(s) have not been posted. HOWEVER, there's a good change it will remain the same as last year. IF that is the case, pick-up will go like so...
*Friday, July 8th, 12-6pm, at Elite Cycling, 10673 Mission Rd, Leawood, KS
*Saturday, July 9th, 3-5pm, Shawnee Mission Park Marina, Shawnee Mission, KS
If I remember correct, there WILL BE packet pick-up allowed on race day. Again, I will update as it is posted.
Elite Cycling is mapped below. For a map of the Shawnee Mission Park Marina, well, that's the same as the race day transition area -- so look later in this post for that map.
Race Day Parking
Race day parking can be a bit flustering if you haven't done this event before: Parking is actually not near transition, but instead at Theater in the Park, straight east (and a touch north) of transition. DO NOT ENTER IN THROUGH THE PARK'S MAIN GATES!! You will be turned around. Instead, the entrance just north of the main gate (official entrance for Theater in the Park) is where you want to be. Official address is 7710 Renner Rd, Shawnee Mission, KS (mapped below as well), and it's about 1/2-to-3/4 of a mile from transition. It's not a terribly long walk, but it is on top of a hill -- which means the walk back to your car post-race is worse. There's also a small walk from transition to the actual swim start (more on that in a second).
For spectators-- GOOD NEWS (in my best Dr. Hubert J Farnsworth voice)!! You will get a bus to help you with the trek, though they are few and far between.
Additional Race-Day Information
First off, and perhaps most important, it transition. The field is moderate-sized (~200 participants, by estimate), so take some time getting to know where you are respective to others within transition. The transition location is the Shawnee Mission Park Marina parking lot (if you're familiar with the park). Here's a map with the exact location of said parking lot...
The layout of the parking lot is diagonal, from southwest to northeast (parallel to 79th Street), and it slopes towards the lake. That slope is worth noting -- it makes getting on to the bike and getting rolling a little more of a challenge.
Speaking of which, bike-out is the eastern-most (or rather, I guess technically, "northeastern-most") edge of transition, run-out (and in, if you're a duathlon participant) on the western edge, and swim-run-in from the south. SWIM START IS NOT NEAR TRANSITION, instead, it is...
...east of transition. This is another trickster...it means you have to walk a little bit, barefooted (unless you have an awesome spectator with you to take your sandals from you at the start) around the corner. It's about a 1/4-mile walk. There are trees between transition and the beach, so you can't short-cut in (unless, I guess, you swim there) -- you gotta walk the roadways around to swim start.
See a map of swim below. You'll note the differences between swim start and swim-out. You also get a great idea of how the parking lot where transition will be is oriented.
As per the swim itself, the map below shows the full-course option (1000m). See the event's official webpage for a map of the short-course triathlon swim course.
After negotiating out of transition, the long-course bike route is four laps around Shawnee Mission Park (to the short-course's two laps), equaling just short of 18 miles. There are sixteen total climbs on the route, although in reality it's four climbs repeated four times over. Shawnee Mission Park has always been regarded as a great place to practice repeated short bursts of effort up climbs, over and over again. Come race day, it will serve as a pain factory, with nearly 1,500 feet of total climbing.
And GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE!!! There's a video!
Here ya' go...
The first climb, starting just at the end of Shawnee Mission Lake's Johnson County Dam, is the nastiest of the four, and can really be split in to two section. The first half of climb #1 (what I affectionately refer to as "Lookout Hill") is by far the most painful, an almost-7% average ascent up 51 feet, before leveling out slightly in to the second half, at 4%, up towards lookout tower. Overall, climb #1 is a half-mile at 5% average and 10% a the initial foot of the climb. After lookout tower, a fast downhill leads straight in to climb #2, a quarter mile at almost 6%. Another drop in to Climb #3, this time only 0.15 miles, but still at 5.6%. The final climb comes just before turning back west towards the lake, and again is split in two, the first half also more steep, and averaging under 5% over a scant tenth of a mile.
The north side of the lake provides some wonderful respite in preparation for the next lap, and with some
power on the pedals, can produce some lightning-fast speeds. A few minor up-ticks pop up on approach to the transition area before heading back out on to Johnson County Dam. On the road along the dam, wind will likely be the biggest factor, as the road is perched up on a hill with zero shielding from any gusts.
Over the course as a whole, the repetitiveness of the hill-climbs will be the largest factor, and a rhythm will have to be established right from the start. As my own personal training grounds, I'm very familiar with each climb, and have found standing on the pedals for the first half of climb one, followed by sitting, then standing on the pedals for all of climb two, sitting for climb three, and standing for both parts of climb four, to be the easiest to manage. Again, take advantage of the speed allowed by the north side of the lake, but don't completely bomb it, as the last flat spot across the dam doesn't provide the same amount of respite with faces to the wind. And break out the compact cranks: the small ring will be needed for most of these climbs.
Guess what!?? I got a video course preview for this, too! In fact, for duathletes, the video starts with run leg 1, and finishes with the short-course triathlon run/duathlon run 2. The northern section of the long-course triathlon run is skipped (sorry 'bout that), but believe me when I say that the skipped section is quite flat -- it's the video-covered sections that are interesting.
For long-course triathletes, the embedded map (below) is for you.
The video, followed by the Google Earth map, of the course are embedded below...
(the video is getting an update for 2017 -- so if it disappears, I apologize. Hold out for the 2017 preview and you'll see it anew)
Accomplishing T2 involves a slight uphill run out of transition to actually get on-course, due to that weird slope towards the lake. Once on course, long-course participants will start the 4.5-mile run leg on the northwestern corner of the bike route, including the first half of Lookout Hill, a quarter-mile at 7% grade. Then the looooong fall from the wall -- about three-quarters of a mile to be exact. Though it sounds welcoming, the harsh pounding of the pavement will no-doubt absolutely trash quads. The fall leads in to the back multi-use trails of the Mill Creek Streamway trail. Once on the main trail -- which takes nearly 2 miles to get to -- the course is pancake-flat. Just before the finish line is where it picks up again, and throws the most difficult climb (less steep than Lookout Hill, but much longer) of the run route: a 0.30-mile, 5.5% ascent back up towards the lake. The finish is at the end of a short-yet-very-steep mini-climb, adding insult to likely injury.
That's all I got! Feel free to add comments or request/suggest add-ons and edits. Otherwise, I'll see y'all out there.
...and Keep R/B/S-ing!
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