THE FINE PRINT: The following preview is written using the information available at time of publishing. Race organizers reserve the right to change the details, including route, sometimes without warning. That said, the details listed below may change come race-day. I do my best to avoid that whenever possible -- but sometimes it simply isn't possible. Thank you for understanding. Keep R/B/S'ing! -R3KC
I stumbled across this little gem of a race early last year. I was grieving over the rumored loss of yet another duathlon (the Prairie Punisher Duathlon, namely - and it soon thereafter became official), and started to widen my reach beyond the immediate Kansas City area. Like the town itself, this duathlon is by no means grandiose. But what it lacks in size (whether or you consider that a negative or not), it makes up for ten times over in charm. This race is fun. The town is fun. The organizers are fun. And everyone, from the volunteers to the participants themselves, are friendly as you'll find anywhere.
I had a blast. And I was happy when registration re-appeared for 2017. My hope for the race is that it finds a strong following. If the social media presence and general outreach of the organization are any indication, I'd say it would be easy to assume, yes -- it will.
Come race this one. You won't be disappointed.
No changes from last year. You can pick up your race packets from 4:30 through to 6:30pm at the northeast corner of Forest Park at Broadway and Heacock Ave the day prior. Or, just pick them up on race day just north of the transition area inside the Commercial Bank Parking lot (close to the drive through).
Haven't registered yet? You can register either during packet pick-up, or on race day.
Here's where Forest Park is...
Transition is also at Main & Central, but that's the northeast corner, whereas the main parking lot is the southeast corner (right across the street). So no issues whatsoever. If it starts to fill up, there is plenty of parking around on the streets of downtown Parsons. And even then, it's 5min walking distances.
Such are the perks of smaller races.
Transition is located in the Commercial Bank parking lot, located on the back (north) side of the bank, at about Main & Central Streets. It's a small and easy-to-navigate transition. Above I say there are about 60 transitions spots, but really I think that's a generous estimate. It's pretty tiny.
If I remember correct, the transition was an straight east-west affair, but there was a run-out area that jutted out diagonally from transition to the northeast that was barricaded.
The bike-in/-out, on the other hand, is straight on the west side of transition. There is a mount line (or rather, cone)! So don't mount straight out of transition. You do have a few extra steps to walk/run before doing so. From there, technically the bike course begins along the west side of the bank before hitting the main stretch of road along Main Street and 2400 Rd.
Run Legs 1 & 2 (& 5k)
Runs 1 and 2 are identical to each other, so we'll cover both in one section. In 2016, I measured the course closer to 3 miles than I did 3.1, but margin of error states it could very well still be an honest 5k.
Of note, the duathlon and 5k start at the same time and from the same place. There are a significant number more 5k'ers, so don't feel crushed if you think yourself a good pace for a duathlon, and are pipped by many-a-runner; they likely don't have to bike and run again.
Anyhoo...the start line is located just to the east of transition, on Central Ave. There will be an inflatable arch. The opening quarter mile heads north on Central. The first turn (left) comes at Stevens Ave, followed by an immediate right back north on 20th. 20th hits a T-intersection at Gabriel; left here, and follow the curve back north, where the road turns in to Ottawa Rd.
This is the "stick" of the lollipop. The lolly itself (the looped section) includes a point: You will turn west on Superior Dr, but not before continuing PAST Superior on Ottawa to mile marker 1, then turning around back south on Ottawa. Now you can turn westbound (right turn, now) on Superior.
Superior Dr is the main looped portion of the route, and follows the perimeter of a distribution center. Superior curves south, eventually running in to North Ave eastbound. This T-intersects back with Ottawa Rd. From here, the return is a reverse of the out-bound, with mile marker 2 coming as Ottawa turns in to Gabriel Ave.
Once you see the finish arch, make sure to keep right, turning in to transition at the corner of Central and Washington.
For Run 2, the route is the same. This time, though, you'll (obviously) run out of transition instead of from the start line, and finish at the inflatable arch instead of entering transition at the end of the run.
Total elevation gain on-route? 35 feet. You read that right -- pancake-flat.
5k'ers? You're on the same course. Just don't run in to transition when you're finished ;-)
Before you worry about the two ominous peaks on the elevation profile above, note the elevation range: This route is really flat. It's 20 miles long (or nearly so), and only rises a total of 174 feet. By comparison, the Kansas City Triathlon route -- by no means "hilly" -- is only five miles longer and shows nearly 1200ft in elevation gain.
So, that said, if you want to practice your straight-line time trialing skills, this is the perfect place to do it, with one HUGE caveat: The wind. This is May in Kansas, synonymous with stiff southerly winds (particularly in southeastern Kansas). If there is anything of a breeze (and there most likely will be), the east-west layout of the route will present itself with some challenging crosswinds. Me? I'd keep the TT/Tri bike, but lose the deep-dish rims -- or at least the rear disk -- but that's just me.
The only other things to note are the following...
The route is straightforward (literally) from there. It's Main Street west, which turns in to 2400 Rd outside of town, then turnaround at mile 10. There TECHNICALLY is a left-turn, but really that's to stay on 2400 Rd. It comes about 5 miles in, or halfway between the bike start and bike turnaround.
If you want to see what I mean about any of this, just check out this crazy cool video I took from last year... (posted later today)
And that's it! This is a really cool event. It's a long drive for me (2.5hrs), but there certainly is a reason I'm returning in 2017 -- it really is that much fun.
See everyone there!
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