Sunday, May 15, 2011

Midwest Race Reviews

I always get a lot of questions about race recommendations, so I thought I would share my opinion on a few of the Midwest's most popular races.  If you are on the fence about where to compete this summer,
 maybe this will help you out.

Galena Triathlon-   This is a beautiful sprint race about 3 hrs west of Chicago.   This is a VERY hilly course and can be pretty challenging for anyone, especially beginners.  It is also a point to point race, which means 2 transition areas and lots of setup.  In my opinion, a point to point race is more work than it is worth.  Also, because this race is so early in the season, the weather is pretty iffy and the swim has been canceled before.  If you are a strong swimmer, this race will not be your favorite because the swim is very short.  Despite all this, more often than not the day is sunny, the field is fast, and everyone has a great time.  Best of all, its on a Saturday morning, so you can celebrate with a night in the quaint town of Galena.

Bigfoot Triathlon- Bigfoot is a fun race in Lake Geneva with sprint and olympic options.  It always has a fantastic goody bag and a good field of competitors.  The swim is in Lake Geneva- in the past it has been in pretty shallow waters and swimmers could actually walk instead of swim.  Not so fair, but strong swimmers and still beat the walkers.  The ride is on fast country roads with enough rolling hills to keep you challenged.  The most fun part of this race is the trail run.  The trail running keeps things interesting as you weave in and out of the woods.  Overall a very well run race and Lake Geneva is a great place to visit!

Pleasant Prairie Triathlon- This sprint/olympic race takes place in my hometown and has always been one of my favorites.  Sadly, it now takes place the same day as Bigfoot so you have to decide which race to do!  The swim at PP takes place in a man made lake that is usually the perfect temp, very calm and a pretty fast swim.  The bike course takes you through flat, fast country roads.  The run is on a cement path around the lake with a couple of detours for the Olympic course.  Overall, this is an extremely well run race and leads to very fast times. 

Trek Women's Triathlon- If you are a women who has always wanted to do a triathlon, there is NOTHING to be intimidated about on this sprint course.  This race is at the same venue as PP (above) and is a fast course.  The only difference with this race is that it is all women, and a lot of them.  For some, the estrogen level may be running a little high- there is typically a lot of people yelling "Girl Power" and high fiving each other.  Despite that, it is very well run and you can fit in as an experienced triathlete or as a first timer. 

Racine70.3-  This race switched from a local half IM race to a 70.3 a couple of years ago.  This is a very fast half IM course with a point to point swim in Lake Michigan.  It is not unusal for the water here to be in the mid to upper 50's, which can lead to a painful, and then numb, swim.   The hardest part of this race is the 50 yd dash through the sand to transition after the swim.  Not easy.  Once you are on the bike you are flying through WI farmland on flat roads.  The run is flat except for a small incline that you have at the beginning of both loops.  This is a good spectator race as they can hang out at the beautiful North Beach all day and see you a few times on the run.

Chicago Triathlon-  Touted as "The World's Largest Tri," this race that takes place in downtown Chicago has sprint and olympic options.  I tell all my clients they have to do this race once.  It is a long day- transition CLOSES at 5:30 am and there is no bike racking the night before.  The race begins at 6 am with the sprint, the olympic usually starts around 8 am and there are waves starting until 10 am.  Some people go home and nap after they rack their bike in the morning.  Despite that, the swim is crowded but fairly easy, as it is along a harbor wall.  The bike is fast on straight, flat Lakeshore Drive (just look out for potholes) and the run is flat as well.  Times here usually are not too fast as transition is 1/4 mile away from the swim and is ginormous.   This race usually brings out great athletes, and pros from all over the world race around 11 am, so it is fun for spectators.   Do it once- it is an experience!

What races are you doing this summer?

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