Normally, I’m rather quick about these race recaps, but I have needed time to process my thoughts on this race before I blog about it. In the interest of being an honest reviewer, this race is difficult to blog about. There are thoughts that circulate around the youth tri world that races that are paired with adult triathlons are usually not good races. The reasons behind this school of thought is that oftentimes, it feels like the kids race is an “afterthought”, or the race directors are tired from what may have already been a very busy weekend. The Trifest for MS certainly lends itself to the latter. The race weekend houses many different adult races, a Pro/Olympic race, a Sprint, a Supersprint, and a 5K all occur BEFORE the kids triathlon, which this year was on Sunday evening. This was our first evening race ever. We knew the weekend would be hot, and it was 91 degrees with full sun at the start of the kids race. Since we were in town for the race, we checked out of the hotel that morning, leaving us no good place to rest before the race. We went to the Razorback Greenway early in the morning to ride bicycles. Probably not a good idea before a race, but it was an opportunity not to be missed. We met a fellow young triathlete at the water feature in town and ate crepes together. The girls loved having someone else to play with and the crepes were awesome as always!
We then went to Crystal Bridges and to the Amazeum (kids museum), in an effort to keep ourselves as cool as possible throughout the day. The girls did not enjoy the evening format, they all agreed they would rather wake up early than have to wait all day.
We went to the race site a bit before 5 pm, when the transition was set to open. When we got there, there were already many bikes in transition (a minor gripe of mine!). They have great sponsors for this race series, so the SWAG bags were actually full of nice things, umbrellas, kids ponchos, full size samples, a hat. We also got cute tech tee shirts. We set up transition quickly, grabbed some drinks, and turned on a movie in the air conditioned car for the next 1 hr 15 minutes.
Organization for the swim start went something like, “Line yourselves up!” . We did the best we could getting Evie and Adelaide near the front and Marlee towards the back. During the beginning of the swim, one girl in Evie and Addie’s age group didn’t complete her swim correctly, and didn’t “snake” (where you start in one lane and end in another), causing other kids to be confused and she was pulled from the water and continued. The swim director and another person talked about having her number for a penalty. I forgot all about it until I saw that girl again–on the podium. No penalty was ever assessed. That was the first of many timing and course snafus. The older girls swim was lackluster, we are ready for swim practice to fire up again next week to get them back into fighting shape!
The bike portion was too short for the 7-8 crowd, at only 0.75 miles. It’s hard to gain any time with a course that short, so awards were based mostly on the swim, transitions, and run. Marlee was helped in transition by her dad. She probably should have been ran with on the bike course, because I have no idea what she was doing, but she took FOREVER! The other girls were on their own. They did give the option of assisting in any way any child 5-8. This meant that some parents were running along on the bike course and pacing/pushing their kids on the run. There was some talk that the run course was confusing and understaffed, leading to some cutting through/not completing correctly.
The senior course, although we did not compete in it, was probably more disastrous. It was approaching dark when the swim began and that threw a whole different element in there, especially for the younger of the age group (age 9-10). The bike course was NOT closed to traffic and the majority of the bikes did not have lights. The course was long for the 9-10 group, as well with a 200 swim, 6+ mile bike, and 1 mile run. There was a major timing snafu in the 9-10 age group causing a girl to podium who in reality was near the end of the pack. The timing error was glaringly obvious, so obvious that we doubt anyone had checked times before posting them. The bike time had this person moving at over 50 mph on the bike. As frustrating as timing errors are, and missing out on a podium spot because of one, they weren’t missing out on much because the podium medals were cheap, plastic, and had no indication of placement. They looked like leftover medals from an adult race. I’m not saying that the awards are everything, but these kids are working hard, even a personalized piece of paper will do in most instances! The awards were rushed through and it was dark. There were no finisher’s medals.
Evie got 3rd place, Addie got 13th due to a poor run, and Marlee got 5th due to a poor bike. All in all, not a great race experience, even if all had raced well and podiumed. Will we go again? Almost certainly not. There are many races out there where the kids take a priority instead of a backseat, and those are the races that we like to support. A great example of that is any of the Kids Triathlon, Inc. races. They are well-attended and very experienced with these events, and that is where we will be next weekend! North Texas Kids Triathlon, here we come!