I gotta tell ya, going to the big triathlon races just isn’t for me. First, it costs too much. Second, there are too many people and the morning setup takes far too long. The event itself, meaning just the race, is exciting and everything, but the crowd and costs put it over the edge for me.
I am more about doing my own thing in an uncrowded place with probably a few friends and on a timeline that doesn’t include much waiting around for the masses.
Thus, I am implementing the Personal Challenge concept.
The Personal Challenge is any race you decide to plan and execute on your own, basically a Do-It-Yourself Race. No expensive race fees. Limited or at least combined travel fees when you do the race in conjunction with a different trip. And, a venue that might not be otherwise possible. These then become a “self-supported” event that you have to plan your own logistics like transition areas, resupply stations, and bathrooms.
Let me introduce you the Personal Challenge Series, brought to you by Darin Letzring at AmphibOps.com and Mountain Cruises.
Situation: This year’s Personal Challenge Series highlight is the YNP 70.3, a half-distance triathlon race in the Yellowstone National Park (70.3). That’s right! A triathlon in Yellowstone National Park!
Mission: Complete a triathlon in Yellowstone National Park.
Intent: Complete a half-distance course that is entirely within the Park (incidentally, also completely above 7,700 feet elevation), highlighting some of the park’s features while maintaining the safest race day possible in the park.
1. Pre-Race: Camp at the Marina Campground to make an early morning start. Some marshmallows and fresh air should provide my body a great pre-race evening.
2. Swim: With a 0530 start at picnic area at the east end of the Marina, an out-n-back swim out of the marina and into the lake, following the causeway to a turn-around point just past the end of the causeway where the treeline starts. This swim area is mostly 3-4 feet deep and should be fairly protected from the wind. Distance is 1.2 miles and expected time of 30 minutes. See the swim course on Garmin Connect.
3. T1: Transition is based out of my Xterra in the marina parking lot near the swim start. I should contract with Nissan to make it a commercial.
4. Bike: Taking my bike off the Xterra in the marina parking lot, head east to Fishing Bridge and continue to Canyon, cruising next to the Yellowstone River through the beautiful Hayden Valley after seeing the Mud Volcano and Sulphur Canyon. Nearing Canyon area, slow down and meander through the Yellowstone Falls parking area to glimpse the falls and get some refreshments from my mobile aid station (family in the car). From the falls, continue north to the intersection and turn around to go back south through Hayden Valley again; hopefully beating the the bison to their daily road crossing between 9:00am and 10:00am.
At Fishing Bridge, go across the bridge and out toward’s Mary’s Point, cruising along the lake the entire way. Winds should still be fairly low until 9:00am or so. Turn around at the point where the road turns directly east and starts heading uphill, coming back into the wind a bit and with the option of hitting the mobile aid station at the Mary’s Point pull-out.
Head through Fishing Bridge and turn towards the Marina. The main safety point here is to be off the roads preferably by 9:00am and absolutely no later than 10:00am because that’s when the roads get dangerous with higher traffic volume from all drivers and large campers in particular.
** Take a look at what it’s like to bicycle in Yellowstone National Park at www.mountaincruises.com. **
5. T2: Again at the Xterra at the Marina Campground. Lock the bike on my bike rack on the car. Put shoes on. Start running.
6. Run: The run will be a two-lap cruise from the marina, across the causeway, around Gull Point, over Bridge Creek, and back to the marina. There are many other options for the run, but this one is the option that provides the most safety in relation to bears. Yes, bear safety is the primary concern here. I personally will not be able to run very fast at this point if a bear chases me, so I need to be sure I don’t get in that situation. Also, Gull Point provides a rest area and some beautiful views of the lake. The barely-improved roadway on most of this path is a near-perfect trail run condition.
7. Post-Race: hang out at the marina picnic area for a bit, then head to Lamar Valley for a few nights in the backcountry for the world’s most awesome Cutthroat Trout fishing, staying at campsite 3L2 on Cache Creek and only a short walk to the confluence with Lamar River. The most awesome triathlon will be followed up with my very favorite fishing trip in the world.