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.

 

 

It’s Raining, So What?

It’s cold outside. I’m sore from those lunges on Tuesday. I feel sluggish. Bah Humbug! Whatever has you feeling unmotivated today, Joe Stone has faced something worse.

It’s Raining, So What, a new documentary that irks the editor in me (Let me change that comma to an em dash! Let me please add a question mark!), follows Joe Stone on his quest to become the first wheelchair-using quadriplegic to complete an IRONMAN triathlon.

It’s Raining, So What is a story about overcoming adversity and achieving something amazing despite any perceived limitations.

Director Kevin May said about the making of the film: “We quickly realized we were sharing a universal message: Happiness and true life fulfillment is possible if we can break through our own perceived limitations through intentional thinking and positive actions.”

Watch the trailer here. And check out bonus interviews here.

“DU” something awesome today.

Racing weekend: NOLA and NYC

Two big races take place on the first day sans Daylight Savings Time: the New York City Marathon and the USA Triathlon Draft-Legal Duathlon World Qualifier in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Draft-Legal Duathlon

Who’s racing in New Orleans? Do tell! The sprint-distance races kick off bright and shiny at 7:30 a.m. (Men 16-49), followed by the 50-plus men at 7:45 and the women at 10 a.m.

With lows in the mid ’60s, the men will have comfortable temps on race morning. Things will heat up for the women’s race, when the thermometer climbs to 72-75 degrees.

It could be worse. Have you ever visited New Orleans in the summer? Don’t! The hottest, sloppiest weather I have ever experienced was in New Orleans in August. It was well in the 90s, I think, with steam room humidity. The swimming pools felt like bath water and had big bugs floating in them.

There will be none of that this weekend, thank goodness. The course looks pretty straightforward and runs along the water, so I assume it’s pretty flat. I don’t remember hills in New Orleans. Of course, there’s lots I don’t remember about those trips, many years ago, for reasons you might expect.

For the curious, here is the start list. What’s draft legal racing all about? More about that in one of my previous blog posts.

Before I start my long run on Sunday, I plan to watch the TCS New York City Marathon. Will Dathan Ritzenhein do something special? Will Molly Huddle hit the podium in her marathon debut? Will super-triathlete Gwen Jorgensen break 2:30? (Let’s Run predicts 2:27.) We’ll find out in a few days!

Here’s what the men’s marathoners have to say leading up to race day. And here’s the scoop on the women’s race.

Whether you’re running, riding, or both this weekend, enjoy the fresh air and the gift of good health.

 

California Loses Wildflower Triathlons

Generally I focus my articles on duathlon training, news, interviews, and other goodies. Recent news seems important enough for me to deviate to talk about a big change in triathlon events.

Wildflower Triathlon, one of the most popular events in California, will not be held in 2017.

Wildflower Triathlon

Wildflower race director Terry Davis said five years of drought drained Lake San Antonio to devastating levels, which caused attendance to drop dramatically. “In the 34 years that I have been producing the Wildflower Triathlons, I have never experienced anything that compares with the effect of the prolonged drought,” Davis said.

At its peak, Wildflower attracted 7,000 athletes. In 2015,  that number dropped to 2,500. Last year, when much-needed rain filled Lake San Antonio to a mere seven percent capacity, early estimates for Wildflower were only 2,200.

Davis’s company, Tri California, will not produce any events in 2017. Its races include Scott Tinley’s Triathlon, Pacific Grove Tri, Treasure Island Tri, and the Alcatraz Challenge.

Davis plans to resume these events when water levels return to normal.

In the meantime, disappointed triathletes can turn to duathlon! No water to worry about there!

Seriously, Wildflower and other Tri California events will be dearly missed among local, national, and even international athletes. We wish Tri California much success in its other endeavors. Visit Tri California’s website to read Davis’s statement about the decision.

Read the Slowtwitch article for a glimpse into Wildflower’s musical history.