Sunday, July 11, 2010

run, don't walk

I went to the Detroit Triathlon today to watch the racers and get a better idea of what to expect. I have been to a few duathlons, but had yet to see a full Tri.

The event was held on the once lovely Belle Isle Park in Detroit, MI. the park is still beautiful, but the city has had a lot of trouble maintaining it and some of the visitors don’t respect it and tend to leave trash anywhere they like. This is very disappointing as Belle Isle is a park that could rival any of the great urban parks in the U.S. if it was maintained correctly. What was I talking about now? That’s right, the race.

The Detroit triathlon was scheduled to start at 8am, but there was a last minute change made and the new start time was 7:30. Needless to say, when I showed up at 7:45, I was too late to see the swim start. I was quite bummed, as the swim part was the most important thing for me being as I had never seen that part before. I guess some of the fault is mine for waking up late and not getting there an hour early as I had planned. I checked the website the day before and I could swear it said 8am. Oh well...

I did get to see most of the swimmers though, and it was very interesting to watch. There were about 6 or 7 kayaks out in the Detroit River to assist swimmers who needed it, but being as the depth was only about 4ft they didn’t seem needed. I was reassured that I can do this by all the average people coming out of the water into T1. It was nice to see that not everyone was a toned and trim athlete.

Speaking of average people, I saw a lot of bikes I would not expect there either. Yes I saw the Felts, Bianchi and Cervelos, but I also saw 1970’s friction shift Schwinn 10 speeds, mountain bikes and even a folding bike. My little green Raleigh would fit right in. heck, it would not be competitive in the least but Le Grand Noir would even make the cut.

There were a lot of people at the park to watch the Hydroplane races and this made it difficult if not dangerous for the bike portion of the event. People were walking around aimlessly crossing the road, Sunday cyclist going against traffic in the bike lane and a little girl was even riding her dirt bike in the bike lane (that the racers were using) the wrong way!  Fortunately someone made the girls parents aware of the speeding bikes that were about to blaze through their daughter’s path and she was removed from the course. There was one serious bike accident I am aware of when a racer hit a pedestrian wandering in the road. The cyclist was pretty scuffed up and finished the race after being treated on the scene but the pedestrian got the worst of it and was taken away in an ambulance.

Apart from that, it is a very nice, flat bike course that runs around the island with views of Detroit on one side and Windsor, Canada on the other. 2 laps were required for sprint, and 4 for the Olympic. I could not see much of the run course, just T2 and the finish line so I cannot report on that.

Overall it was a fun event. I don’t know if I would want to race it, with all pedestrians, but perhaps when I am more experienced and comfortable with racing it could be an exciting addition to my race schedule. As a bonus, I got to watch some of the hydroplanes doing their time trials after the race!

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