Let me start by saying I LOVE the idea of a downtown triathlon in Pensacola. One of my favorite races is the Chattanooga Waterfront Tri (also a downtown intermediate distance) and man would it be amazing to have something similar here in our very own backyard.
This race is only in it’s second year, so needless to say it has some areas of potential improvement. As one of it’s race directors stated, there were a few hiccups along the way. But hey, that is part of what racing is all about. Take what you are given on that day, at that time, and do the best you can. Overcome whatever the challenges are. After having it rain at my last four races I am starting to come to terms with this. There will always be something. If you want a perfect race it rarely, if ever, is going to happen
Now, coincidentally, race day dawned to what could be described as the perfect weather (unlike my last four). It exemplified the reason we live and race in Florida. Sunny skies, 60 degrees, and low wind made for ideal racing conditions. It was just chilly enough to need an extra layer while checking into transition and finding your assigned spot, but was perfect once you put on a wetsuit to line up for the swim.
After brief (yet somewhat complicated) swim instructions the self seeded, time trial, swim started. Athletes chug into the water behind Nick’s Boathouse and hug the sea wall of the Maritime Park making this one of the only spectator friendly swims I know of. You could literally walk the length of the out and back swim and watch your athlete as a spectator. As an athlete, it was surprisingly nice to swim in Pensacola’s underused (for racing) and calm bay.
A quick run along the sea wall to T1 gave you time to strip most of your wetsuit before heading out on the bike.
The bike, like the swim, is unique in that it is the only race to use Scenic Highway. The rolling hills and fast descents (or slow ascents...glass half full/empty) were a welcome change to the normal flat beach roads many races use. The course has a bit of everything. Sweeping curves, punchy hills, and flat, fast sections. From what I attribute to the variety of the course the bike flew by. I was coming back down Cervantes towards the stadium before it seemed I should!
Finally, time for the run. I won't say this is my favorite part, but I am always glad to be off the bike and almost done. The run is a fantastic, spectator friendly, course through the heart of downtown. I was able to pass my wife and son cheering me on six times while they stood and one corner spectating.
In the end, it was a beautiful day outside racing, laughing, and hanging out with friends. This race has the potential to be a “Chattanooga Waterfront” type race. A unique swim and bike followed by an amazingly spectator friendly run give it the ingredients to be a must do event. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to wake up and race in my hometown, and look forward to next year!
See you at the races.