With the demise of UltraMax's early-April MaxTrax Duathlon (2016 was it's final running, apparently), three area events take over as official start to the multisport season: Spring Migration Triathlon (4/23), CGSC Triathlon (5/6), and this, the TriZou Triathlon.
Last year was my first year participating, and other than feeling quite anxious about the parking and transition situations (they ended up being mostly fine), I was quite impressed. It became apparent to me that this event marked the start of MANY individuals' race seasons, not just mine. And if last year's participation numbers (470-large, just for the sprint version) are any indication, this event isn't going anywhere for quite some time.
And it's quite different: It starts at an Olympic-level aquatic center, it's transition is on a collegiate track, and the run stays on the University of Missouri's campus, often weaving through its many academic buildings. Along with the numbers, there are very few area events that can boast such an ambiance.
I am, once again, very excited (even though I'm a KU fan).
Saturday, May 6, 2017, 12-7pm
Missouri Orthopaedic Institute
1100 Virginia Ave, Columbia, MO 65201
Sunday, May 7 (race day), 5-6:45am
This is a USAT-sanctioned race, meaning you CANNOT have someone pick up your packet for you. ALSO, that means you MUST have your USAT card present (or proof of one-day license purchase), plus form of identification. You can purchase one-day licensure (technically it's insurance, really) on-site, but it's cash or check only. No cards. I get made fun of for still writing checks, so I will have no sympathy for the card-only peeps.
I've seen too many people get turned away -- even on race day -- because those requirements aren't met. Luckily, if you forget the USAT card, you can pull up proof on the mobile --- but then your USAT card should be of equal importance as your cell phone, shouldn't it??? And if you forget identification, then why in the hell are you driving without an ID, eh???
I haven't attended pre-race pick-up, so I cannot speak to the efficiency of that. All I can say is that the Orthopaedic Institute is the race's title sponsor. So, kudos to them for that.
Race day I do have experience with. No issues whatsoever.
Here's a map to the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute anyways...
Race Day Parking
As I eluded to before, admittedly, I was quite a bit anxious arriving on site the day of. Maybe it was a result of the 2-hour car ride that early in the morning; or the fact that a heavy fog had fallen in Columbia on arrival (it cleared before the race start). At any rate, I arrived at the track where transition was, and was dismayed: Despite my nearly-2-hour-early arrival (yes, I left THAT early in the morning), all lots were full.
Luckily, after a few deep breaths, I located a parking garage just down the way. Plenty of spots (again, early-early, so I can't say how full it was even an hour before race start).
Here's where I ended up parking...
If you want a GPS address, it was at about 600 Turner Ave, Columbia, MO. My understanding is that the garage SOUTH of the fields (this garage is north and west by about a block), which is larger, and oh-so-tempting, is a no-go. It's for hospital staff only. So arrive early...it could get sticky.
Here's the 'official' parking map...
My anxiety may have just hung over from the whole parking fiasco (it really wasn't bad...really), but transition seemed to be an issue for whatever reason, too. Perhaps with a touch more justification.
The whole of transition is a bit odd. It's on a collegiate track & field track. The field? No. JUST THE TRACK.
For whatever reason, I didn't realize this. And, despite my early arrival, it was already quite full. Whats worse: TRANSITION IS FIRST-COME-FIRST-SERVE. Yup, that's right. For a transition this enormous, there is no rack assignment whatsoever.
So you go searching the best you can. And it's a story as old as the sport itself: You find a spot, but it's not the best, so you skip it and keep looking. The only other spot is waaaay worse that what you found before, so you got back to the first spot...but it's taken now. So you go back to the second...aaaannnd THAT's taken. Eventually you give in, rack it wherever you can, and on the way out, without fail, you find a pretty damn good spot. Right??
So, that happened here. And given the size and shape of transition, by the time I racked, I was forced to choose a spot on a rack in the northeast-most (upper-right) corner of the track. A loooooooooooong way from bike in/out (which, conveniently, is located center of the track).
Before this turns in to a 2016 race report rather than a 2017 race review, let's just say that know what you're dealing with before the start. Prioritize transition.
All my frustration was quickly erased the second I saw where we would be swimming. Missouri, for all our griping during basketball season, you have one hell of an aquatic center. Clean, modern, bright. Beautiful.
For tri newbies, this is a fantastic first-look at the swim leg of a tri, if not a tad intimidating. There are a few intricacies worth noting about this race's swim leg, if you're not already acquainted...
First, this is a 50-METER POOL. In other words, it's 50 meters PER LENGTH. Which can be a bit of an unfortunate surprise if you've been race-specific training in the oh-so-common 25m pool.
Second, the lanes are Olympic-size deep. If you're not familiar with Olympic pool regulations, the minimum depth requirement is 2 meters. Thats a little over 6 1/2 feet, and I'm pretty sure MU's pool is at least a foot or so deeper than that, at least in spots (3 meters, or just under 10 feet, is the most common Olympic pool depth). Common is the expectation to jump in, feet on the bottom, and propel yourself forward. Well, you can do that, just know you'll be submerged. If you're not expecting it, it can be a little shocking. There's also a fair bit of "traffic furniture" at the bottom of the pool -- I'm sure for timing equipment and/or photography bits, and some retractable sections as well. Nothing that's particularly bothersome (if anything interesting), but nonetheless something to be aware of.
Thirdly, the walls are TALL. You'll see what I mean on race day. The race format is "snake format" (as opposed to "out-and-back format"), whereby swimmers swim the length, duck under the lane divider of the next lane, and swim back on lane two (then switch to lane three, and so on; as opposed to out-and-back, and then switch lanes). When you come to the end of the final length, you'll have to exit. Last year, about half the swimmers tried to traverse the wall to get out. About 80% of those failed at first try and slipped back in to the pool (a couple of times falling back in to the swimmer behind them). DON'T TRY. You may be used to doing so at your local pool, but de-program yourself to doing this on race day. There's a ladder at the side of the end of the lane. USE THAT.
Other than that, here's the basic format, via the official website...
As far as pool-swim-triathlons go, there are commonly one of two swim formats chosen:
As stated before, this is snake format. And it's illustrated above. 50-meter-long pool means 8 lengths = 400 meters.
The above photo doesn't do justice: This is a large facility. So this is sorta like "objects in the photo are larger than they appear." That includes lane width. These lanes are luxurious. If you need to pass, brush the feet of the person in front of you. You should have plenty of room. If you need to be passed (and you will, believe me), GET OVER. You have all the room in the world to do so.
After exiting the water (again, USING THE LADDER TO YOUR LEFT), step gingerly. Things get slippery on that pool deck. Mats will be down to help facilitate traction, but don't count on them.
Once out, run as if you've stepped out of the end of the lane, and just kept running forward. The doors just ahead (to the left of the dive boards) is where you're going. You will run through a basketball gymnasium en route to getting outside (again, BE CAREFUL - saw a lot of slips last year). Once outside the gym, you get concrete. Follow the barriers to transition (run-in on the east side).
REMEMBER WHICH SIDE OF TRANSITION YOU PARKED YOUR BIKE. Post-race, I heard more than one horror story of racking the bike on the south side of transition before the race, but upon swim exit, going to the north side of transition, and having to run aaaaaaaaaalllllll the way around to get to their bike. That's a long transition. Ouch.
Once you actually do find your bike, mind the length of road between you and bike-out. Remember, bike in/out is opposite of run in/out. You just came from the east side of transition on run-in. Now you need to run to the west side of transition. If you can't put on your shoes mid-ride, then that sucks: That means running in bike cleats a long way (if you're racked on the east side of transition at least).
The bike portion takes place on Columbia, Missouri roads, mostly a mix of blacktop and asphalt with a bit of concrete here and there. And because this race can't be seen doing anything status quo (that's a compliment, by the way), the bike route off of MU's campus is a bit odd. The mount line is located relatively clear of the opening to transition, after a few extra steps on blacktop just south on Maryland/Tiger Ave.
And the route heads south on Tiger Ave for a quick stint before right-turning in to an overflow parking area. Mind your turns and stick with the barriers. You'll head through the tunnel under Stadium Blvd, around the north and west side of Faurot Field (MU's football stadium), to S Providence Rd, just west of the stadium and stadium parking. Turn right heading north, then another quick right on to E Stadium Blvd/MO-740.
Finally, you've reached the route's main loop (and all of that within the first mile).
If you're in the sprint category, you'll be doing TWO LAPS of the course (if doing the supersprint or duathlon, it's just one lap, or 7mi of biking). If you're the sprint course, as you're approaching the football stadium on north-bound Providence, keep straight toward Stadium Drive to start your second lap.
At the end of your second lap (or at the end of your only lap, if you're supersprint of duathlon), entrance to transition is nearly reverse of the exit: Right turn in to the parking lots for Faurot field, around the west and north sides of the stadium, through the tunnel under Stadium Drive, through overflow parking, left on Maryland/Tiger Ave, and north to the dismount line, just southwest of bike in/out for transition.
And OH YEAH! We have videos...
No video of the run, though. Maybe some day.
The run is funky (in a good way!). It's a loop...sort of. The run gives a nice tour of the east side of Mizzou. That means running on many of the sidewalks and trails that adorn campus. This route includes a lot of changes of terrain type (and includes I believe a fair dose of crushed limestone road, if I remember correct).
As for directions? Well...I got none. So much of it is sidewalk and multi-purpose trail. BE VIGILANT on-course. The course is well-marked, both with signs as well as arrows on the ground, but they are SO easy to miss when at-speed.
Oh, and "categorized" climbs, but damn...it's got some climbing. The one highlight? Unless they change the course this year, it's about 500m short of a true 5k. Both hand-mapped as well as GPS put the route at between 2.85 and 2.88mi total.
THAT'S IT! Go forth and conquer.
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