We arrived Friday night before athlete check-in closed, so I was able to get a view of the swim start and the transition area. I always like to familiarize myself with as much of the race as possible due to the fact that I have a history of taking wrong turns on a few bike and run courses!
Saturday morning the weather was nothing short of perfect. I arrived to the race site and immediately found several of my teammates. We caught up quickly, as I haven’t visited with many of them since our team road trip to the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon.
The transition area was convenient as it was on a first-come, first-served basis. I got my bike racked after carefully searching the entrances and exits. Transition was due to close at 7am and we were to make our way down to the swim start area for a 7:30 race start.
The swim was set up so that all bouys would be on the right as you swam out 500 yds then made a right turn towards the shoreline for the last 100 yds. The water temperature was hovering around 82 degrees. We were allowed to self-seed for the swim start, which I really like. Around 7:15am there was a pre-race prayer, the RD made a few announcements followed by the USAT referee. At 7:20am we watched as Ainsley’s Angels began the swim. At 7:30am the first swimmer hit the water and each athlete followed roughly every 5 seconds. The swim was pretty uneventful for me as few people had entered the water by the time I began. However, all that would change on the bike course.
After exiting the swim we ran around 100 yds to T1. Trying to be quick in transition is something I think is acquired with experience in triathlon. My main focus is to execute without worrying about what’s going on around me. I exited transition with a decent split then hopped on the bike for an exciting and fast 17 mile ride though the Stone County countryside. A lot of people reflect on their bike split after a race and say “oh, what a beautiful ride, did you see such and such” ah, no I didn’t. It wasn’t long before myself, Allen Stanfield, another triathlete had a heck of a bike race going on. We exchanged places several times throughout the rolling hills and flat straightaways. I enjoyed mixing it up with these guys and it helped to keep it fast and push each other back into T2.
After returning from the bike portion we made quick time of shedding the bike gear and heading out for the run. The 5k portion of the race began on pavement but soon transitioned to a single lane dirt road. This run course is an out-and-back layout (so you can’t get lost!). I was thankful that the rain had held off for a few days and the run course was dry. The run course was mostly flat with a few small rollers mixed in.
Chain Tri Team had 8 members racing and one who was there to offer support but unable to race due to a injury. Each member raced well and took home some hardware at the end of the day. We were also accompanied by Sister Chain Tri Team which took several podium honors as well.
All in all, Cultivation Nation is a great family venue. We stayed trough until Sunday morning and the kids had a blast. Staying in a cabin close to the lake is a must if anyone plans on participating in the future. Thanks to all the volunteers, law enforcement, USAT officials, and race directors for putting on a great event. Your hard work didn’t not go unnoticed!