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
Yes, I know this is a direct rip from the race's official website, but it's such a cool picture! But I digress...
QUICK INFO updated 5/3
Kansas City is having something of a bittersweet renaissance within the multisport community, I feel. The humble duathlon is nearing death, despite it's exponentially-growing interest across the Atlantic (especially in the UK). Triathlon, on the other hand, has gone from grassroots fancy to true phenomenon.
The rise of athletes like Gwen Jorgensen at this last Olympics has these States at attention, and it shows in triathlon race registration numbers. It's an exciting time. And a bright future. And it makes events like the Kansas City Triathlon the bread-and-butter of many a local athlete's race calendar.
NEW THIS YEAR is the option to drop off your race bike in transition the day before the race, and leave it overnight. More on this in the Transition section of the Course Preview below.
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 during pick-up, 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. If you forget the USAT card, you can pull up proof on the mobile.
I've never had issues with pick-up. Organizers know the drill: They have three options for pick-up, including race day.
Link to the Elite Cycling address is above, or you can check out this nifty map...
Race Day Parking
And indeed, in 2015 it was, too. But 2016 was a little different. I was there with time to spare, and the grassy area was empty, yet I was directed away and on to Pittenger Road. I think last year the thought was fill up the far lots first, save the close lots for VIP, and then as the far lots fill up, then they start pushing motorists to the grass area (when, presumably, VIP will have finished parking).
I don't know. That's the best I could surmise. But it was a mess. Some were able to plea their way in to the grassy area, some were turned away to Pittenger. I ended up parking about a mile away in the furthest lot off of Pittenger Road. Given how chilly it was race morning, I was not the happiest.
This year? It appears they have reverted back to regular parking. Start at the grass, fill to capacity, and overflow on to Pittenger and surrounding lots (VIP parking still available, I believe).
Whatever they decide, just know that, once you park, you're locked in until the last cyclist hits T2. To get to the race site (located at Raytown Road and Pittenger Road), go HERE.
Here's what organizers show (which, ironically, is titled 2016) ...good luck.
P.S. the parking "outside the race site" they speak of is on Raytown Road.
The logistics are always stressful, aren't they? Anyways..on to transition!
NEW THIS YEAR. You can park your bike overnight in transition. Day 2 of packet pick-up is on-site at the race venue. Feel free to toss the bike on the rack then. I actually think this is a fantastic idea when races utilize the option, for a couple of reasons. First, the most obvious, it cuts down on transition check-in on race morning. A plus, and one less thing to think about when nerves are high. Two, it greatly increases safety. Think about it: How many times have you had to make a last-minute adjustment simply due to something that happen during bike transportation?? (I'll never forget one of my front brake pads being sliced and pulled from the caliper during the '15 duathlon nationals) This way, Saturday afternoon, the day before the race, you can transport the bike, make adjustments as needed, AND test-ride your bike before racking it. Come race morning, you already know the bike is good to roll. Anyways...
The transition area is a tall rectangle located west of Longview Lake's Swim Beach. The beach itself is a fenced-off area. Transition is outside the fencing, in the adjacent parking lot.
It's a fairly straightforward transition area, albeit larger than most. I wouldn't say you HAVE to mark the ground next to your transition area, but it couldn't hurt (many do). Just be sure that, if you do mark it, you do so legally: colored duct tape or chalk is perfectly safe. Attaching crap to the racks? No. Apart from being endlessly annoying, it's dangerous, and, illegal. You can get penalized for doing it. And, frankly, if you do it next to me, and it causes a problem (for instance, the string of a balloon wrapping around a bike's brake lever?), I'll be happy to report it.
I give a layout of the land in the Swim Preview section. So without delay...
If you don't already know this is a lake swim...well...
This race's course makes writing an all-comprehensive preview quite easy: Regardless of distance, all routes are the same -- just lapped (except for Run 1 of the duathlon -- check out the maps on the website for info on that).
There is a slight exception for the swim, too. The start and finish of the swim are the same, the loop size is just a touch different.
The Olympic swim is a double-lap loop that starts from the north end of the Swim Beach, continues east about 240-260 meters, south about 120m, and back west to the southern end of the beach.
Here's the tricky part if you've never done a lapped open water swim: You'll exit the water just as you would finishing any open water swim (look for the inflatable arch). But here you'll keep to the right upon exit instead of continuing towards transition, turn right back towards the north part of the beach, then slight right back in to the water for lap number two.
It's about 10 meters (at most) of running on the beach before you get back in the water. Then you swim the about-100-meters back to the north, hitting the north side of the loop rectangle again (about 10-20m from shore). Buoys will lead you the whole way -- just be sure to be there for the start for instructions.
For sprint triathletes, your loop looks similar, but the northeastern-most buoy comes a bit quicker, shortening the north side of the loop to about 190m. The east side of the loop is the same distance as Olympic (~120m), but won't be following the Olympic swimmers, instead running parallel about 50m west of them. Then, with the southeastern-most buoy, you'll intersect with Olympic course triathletes once again. ONE LOOP for sprint triathletes (unless you REALLY want to swim 1000 meters).
The Google Earth view above shows the Olympic course in teal, along with run course (red) and bike course (blue) and transition and parking areas. If I remember correct, and based on the official map provided), the Olympic buoys will be orange. The Sprint buoys will be yellow.
Here's a glimpse at the swim map provided by the race organizers on the official website...
Bike Leg (Olympic)
If you've ever raced around Longview Lake, you know the lay of the land (this used to be somewhat similar to the old Jackson County Triathlon/Duathlon route). It's relatively flat, save for a few bumps on the northern sections, and closing in on the turn-around at the end of the dam. But there is one climb that can be bothersome, particularly for Olympic triathletes that have to complete the route twice.
I speak, of course, of Highgrove Hill. Nearing 1 mile, it only shows as just under 4% average grade on paper, but there are sections that hit 8+%. And, of course, doing it twice, those not accustomed to climbing will be put in a spot of bother. It's JUST enough to spread distances between athletes. And careful on the way down: You'll have to scrub quite a bit of speed at the end of Highgrove Road for the right-turn back on to Raytown.
It's somewhat difficult to make a wrong turn on this route, given the presence of police and volunteers pointing the way (though, I did manage to make a left turn off of Pittenger somehow in 2015). Just remember to turn north off of Pittenger, ride the dam and back, then Raytown Road north of 109th and back, then Raytown to Highgrove, the hill and back, then Raytown to Pittenger.
And for non-sprinters, keep straight to complete the second lap before turning right on to Pittenger. Once finished with your last lap, note the cones for the right turn back toward transition -- they leave little room for error, and it can be a tight squeeze. So be careful.
The Google Earth map has the View High/Highgrove Hill marked, as well as highlighted in the elevation profile. And the profile does show the Olympic course (two laps), so that second climb is View High Hill all over again.
And if the map isn't enough, yeah...we have a video for that. Note, though: This is the duathlon, so it'll only show one lap.
Run route can be difficult to visualize. Remember this: Run-Out (and Run-In) is at the south side of transition. Only say this because you'll see runners running right by Bike-In/-Out at the north side of transition, so in a post-bike delirium, it would be easy to try and run out the wrong side of transition ("JUST FOLLOW THE RUNNERS!"). I've seen it happen.
Runners will come out the south end of transition (sorry if that sounds gross) and turn left immediately to wrap around to the east side of transition, running back north. Running parallel to transition, you'll eventually come to nearly right at Bike-In/-Out, continuing on Pittenger Road, this time parallel with the outbound bike route.
Except, instead of continuing to Raytown Road like the cyclists, you'll turn right, staying on Pittenger Road, and run north to the T-intersection. Turn right at the T, continue to the parking lot, and turn off on to the park trail (volunteers will be standing there directing you. From there, just follow the trail back south to transition. At multiple locations - particularly in the final 3/4-mile - the concrete will give way on the trail to crushed limestone. No worries -- it's well-kept, though I wouldn't necessarily wear zero-protection shoes for this run. And, if there's been any significant rain prior to race day, there will be a few puddles to navigate, particularly in the run-in to the finish (between the two grassy parking areas).
For sprint triathletes, you'll wrap around the park, and take a left turn in to the finish chute, just to the west of transition. For Olympic, you'll continue straight, and start the second loop of the same run route, wrapping back around to the east side of transition.
And for duathletes? Your first run is quite a bit different (it runs south on the park's trails instead of north). But your second is the same as the sprint tri. Again, check out the race website's official maps section for info on Run #1 of the duathlon.
I believe that's all she (or rather, I) wrote! Best of luck to everyone participating. Don't let any deer run in to you on the swim (2016 participants, you know what I mean).
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