Good news: Wildflower Returns, Michigan Trails Get a Boost

There’s enough bad and scary news right now. Here are two pieces of good news: one, a welcome return. Another, a silver lining in the face of tragedy.

Wildflower Triathlon

Wildflower Triathlon, one of California’s most popular three-sport events, will be back in action in 2018. This year, race organizer Tri-California had to cancel the event because Lake San Antonio, the site of the swim, had basically dried up to a puddle. Over the past five years, the drought caused it to drop to seven percent capacity.

As the water receded, attendance levels also dropped. A race that usually attracts up to 7,000 people had dropped to 2,500 in 2015. The combination forced Tri-California to put the race on hiatus.

And then it rained. And rained and rained and rained. Up in the Sierras, is snowed. And snowed and snowed. Mountains of snow. California got so much rain and snow that most of the state is out of drought, and Lake San Antonio is up to 57 percent capacity. The race is on!

With so many races, especially in California, to compete with Wildflower, what does this mean for the sport? “I think Wildflower means there are still independent races and independent race directors,” Tri-California president and Wildflower founder Terry Davis told Slowtwitch.com. “The sport is not all corporate, not all Ironman. There is still life in the sport.”

The silver lining

On August 26, 2016, Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Karen McKeachie, a USA Triathlon Hall of Fame inductee and internationally recognized athlete, went out for a ride and never came back. She didn’t come back because Terry Lee Lacroix drove his Chevy Avalanche into the opposite lane to pass another vehicle and hit McKeachie head-on, barely missing her two riding partners.

Out of this tragedy, the community is working to accelerate construction of Washtenaw County’s Border-to-Border (B2) Trail. After McKeachie’s death, her family honored her legacy through a $1.1 million gift to the Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative (HWPI), a local nonprofit group dedicated to supporting the B2B expansion.

To accelerate construction, the McKeachie Family and HWPI have announced the Karen’s Trail Campaign, a public effort to raise at least another $1 million for trail construction. HWPI needs to raise $15 million in private funding to complete the B2B trail by 2021.

The Washtenaw County portion of the trail covers 35 miles along the Huron River. The larger vision includes a 55-mile trail that, when combined with the adjoining Lakelands State Trail, will be 70 miles long and will include a unique 44-mile loop trail that connects the towns of Dexter, Chelsea, Stockbridge, and Pinckney as well as two state recreational areas.

To donate to Karen’s Trail Campaign, click here.

Super-short Super League Tri: will it invigorate the sport?

Ironman pro Chris McCormack announced the Super League Triathlon in early February. The goal: to get the world’s best triathletes to compete on sprint-distance courses (using unique formats) for mega prize money.

According to Super League Triathlon’s website, McCormack and crew want to bring mainstream attention to triathlon and they think super-short competitive races will do the trick. Triathlete magazine likens it to Formula 1 triathlon racing in the early 1990s and 2000s; which, they say, put triathlon in the public eye.

Super League has half the talent: 25 top men, zero women. Huh? Even though the most famous one is stepping back to have a kid, I’m sure there are 25 others who can hold their own.

The first event, which kicked off on March 17, takes place on Hamilton Island, in Queensland, Australia. Day One, the “Triple Mix,” featured a swim (300m)-bike (20K)-run (2K), followed by a run-bike-swim and a bike-swim-run, with 10-minute breaks between rounds. Day Two, the “Equalizer,” started with an ITT, the results of which determined starting positions for a swim-run-swim-bike-run. (Heck. If they really want to equalize, why not throw in a run-bike-run? Just a thought…) Day Three, “Eliminator,” features three swim-bike-run races with 10-minute breaks between rounds. Here’s a link to some Equalizer run footage.

Super League Triathlon
The Super League team

Want to wach Super League Tri on TV? If you live in the United States, you can’t!!! Check the website for live updates and info on what Super League Tri is all about. If you live in Europe, Australia, or China, you can watch the race on Eurosport, Fox Live, Sky, and/or Alisports.

Watching triathlon really is pretty boring. And this is coming from an athlete who will, if given the opportunity, watch a major marathon on TV — the whole thing — and not budge. I’ll watch track meets and bike races with the same enthusiasm. Granted, triathlons have the swimming problem, which doesn’t hold my interest at all (which is why I choose duathlon), but even if I ignore the swim, there just isn’t a lot of grit in tri, except in rare occasions.

Maybe Super League Triathlon will inject some excitement into the sport…if they level the playing field and include a women’s event.

For more on the biz side of Super League Triathlon, read this article on Triathlete magazine.

 

 

Otillo: Another crazy two-sport event

We’ve got run-bike-run (my favorite), swim-run, swim-bike, and, of course, swim-bike-run, and now we have swim-run-swim-run…and so on.

A Feb. 15 Triathlete magazine feature profiles Ötillö, a newly popular endurance sport where teams of two swim and run between and over 26 islands near Sweden. Grand total the teams swim more than 10K and run about 40K—consider it a long-distance, multi-Aquathon.

Otillo swimrun
Water, cold!

Race director Jeffrey Cole brought the idea to the U.S. with the Casco Bay Islands Swimrun in Portland, Maine’s Casco Bay. The 2017 edition will take place on August 13. Other swimruns have popped up in San Diego, California; Richmond Virginia; and Hanging Rock State Park in North Carolina.

Read all about the super-swimrun craze here.

As for me, the swimming-averse one, I’m sticking with duathlon. However, with all the rain we’ve been getting in Northern California, we might be able to pull off something like this in the middle of Oakland!