Racers were blessed with near perfect conditions standing on the sugar white sand of Pensacola Beach Saturday morning. With the mass wave starts, the clear and calm gulf waters provided plenty of opportunity for racers to spread out and find their own rhythm and pace over the course of the 600 yard swim. Safety was evident as their were too many support kayaks and paddle boarders to count. As athletes finished the U-shaped swim and hit the beach they faced a challenging 50-100 yard run up through the sand to enter transition. The race directors had set up a nice running shower going into transition to help cut down on the salt and sand as athletes readied their bikes.
The 21k bike course was flat and fast. Despite the sell out field, the course was well designed and provided a safe and secure environment for all those racing. It was remarkably well designed and laid out with views of some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. The out and back bike course helped fuel the competitive juices as well with a quick glance allowing you to know your position among racers. Having that checkpoint always helps provide the motivation needed to keep pushing to stay away or try and catch your competitors.
The 5k run course starts with the first few hundred yards lined with cheering spectators and amazing volunteers. After roughly a ½ mile you venture into a scenic beach neighborhood. Just as you seem to have ventured away from the majority of spectators, you’re hit with a bolt of momentum in the form of snares and bass of a high school band! The cheers from the balconies of beach homes and enthusiasm of the volunteers keeps you going until you make your way back by the band. At that point you realize you’ve got less than a mile left. As you make your way towards the finish your greeted with a long chute, lined with spectators and an announcer calling your name as you approach and cross the finish line.
The race is done, but the race environment keeps on giving with the “best post race party” in triathlon. Cold drinks and great food at the pavilion make you quickly forget about the pain of the race. The awards ceremony was festive and organized with the coveted SRI Tri Tiki for Overall categories and custom pottery for the age group awards.
Congratulations to new race director Mindi Straw (and Evan Malone) on a stellar event. The attention to detail and the care given to racers was evident from the marketing of the event to the post race breakdown. Awesome job and we will see you next year. Chain will be sure to sign up early as I’m sure it will be another sell out!
I knew this was a race I had to do when Mindi and Evan took over as race directors, and they made sure every aspect of it was perfect. The race went off without a hitch and the swag was great!
I will definitely be back for 2020.