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Race Reviews • August 14, 2011

Race Review SetUp Events Maryland Tri Series – Druid Hill Park Sprint Triathlon

This was my very first Triathlon so I can’t compare it to other triathlons.  The website and registration process for the event was good and fairly easy to use.  Packet pick-up was at the local running store Falls Road Running and went smoothly.  The night before the race there was a course overview with time set aside to ask questions.  The orientation was helpful and a bit overwhelming from my perspective as a newbie.  During the talk, we were alerted that the volunteer group that was going to be supporting the course had backed out the night before.  They explained that this meant the racers were responsible for knowing the course and there would be limited support.  So, with another athlete (Amy G.) and I drove the bike course, you’ll see later that this turned out to be a little bit of a waste.  Being that this was the first running of the Druid Hill Park Sprint Triathlon a lot of kinks were still being worked out.  The race originally had a 12 mile bike ride but that was changed to an 8 mile course days before the event.

The Druid Hill Park Sprint Triathlon was a 300 yard pool swim, an 8 mile bike ride, and a 5k run.  I got up at 4:30 a.m. to get all my stuff together.  First thing I did was go out to get my bike from the garage.  Checking the tires I realized they needed air so I started pumping away.  As I pulled the pump off the presta valve, the top of the valve broke off.  I have a spare tube but I have never changed a tire.  This caused a bit of stress, I tried to keep calm and hoped someone could help me out on site.  Lucky for me Chris from Twenty20 Cycling Co. was there when I got to Druid Hill, he quickly fixed the tire and I was able to calm down a bit.

After putting my bike in the transition area, I went over to get my chip.  Once at the chip area a team of folks with Sharpies were writing our numbers on our arms and our age on our legs.  I was ready to go.  All I needed now was to avoid drowning in the pool.  I really neglected the swim practice.  I went to the pool about four times to practice swimming before the race.  This being my first tri my goal was just to get through it.  As we lined up in number order to start the swim there was a lot of nervous chatter.  I kept reminding my self to stay calm and relaxed when it was my turn in the pool.  Slow, steady, and breath was my swim mantra.  I did better in the swim than I thought I would.  I was never passed but passed many other swimmers.  My swim time was 7:34.

The transition from the pool to the bikes was a long one, it even included stairs.  Looking at my transition times compared to other athletes, it looks like there is room for improvement. I took a good extra minute at least on both transitions versus the athletes that came in right before me.

Getting on the bike felt great!  I was feeling strong and fast. Here is where the lack of volunteers came into play.  Even after driving the course with Amy, I missed a turn and went three quarters of a mile in the wrong direction.  While they did chalk the road it was in an uphill section where you were working pretty hard.  A cone or one person could have saved a lot of us from missing the turn.  When I missed it, several bikers followed me.  Later when I talked to Amy, I found out she had missed the turn too.  My bike time was off a bit because of this mistake.  I finished the bike with a time of 29:21.

I never practiced going from the bike into a run, I probably should have.  When I started the run my legs felt pretty heavy and stiff.  They loosened up after 2 miles and I started to feel better.  I kinda wish the run was longer, I finally found my stride and I only had a half mile to go.  It was a hilly course and finished it in 24:55.

I had done it.  My first triathlon was in the books.  I thought a sprint tri would be easy, it was tougher than I thought it would be.  I finished 55 overall, 42 out of men, 4 in my age group.  I had no idea there was any chance at placing in my first tri.  I was kicking myself for not pushing a little harder or transitioning faster.  I was just taking in the experience.  I missed 3rd place by a minute.  D’oh!  What ever, I had a great time and will do another tri for sure.  I gained a lot of respect for tri-athletes at all levels.  It is a fun and tough sport.

There were no medals apparently there was a mix up with the ordering there too.  The SetUp Events crew had a lot of hiccups and I got the sense they were doing the best they could.  I will cut them some slack with it being the first time the event was being put on.  There was plenty of food and refreshments at the finish.  I would sign up for this event again.  PS- The HeadSweat visors they had for some finishers were pretty sweet.  If SetUp wants to send me one I would be proud to wear it.


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  1. Thomas,
       First, congrats on finishing your first tri and hopefully the minute between 4th and 3d will make you hungry for the next one!  Great, and honest, review of our inaugural Druid Hill Sprint.  We had a number of hurdles as a staff that often come with a first-year event, but the hope is that the athletes aren't aware of them. Obviously the lack of volunteers impacted a few racers on the bike portion, and I am already looking to revise the bike course for 2012 to make it bit more user-friendly.  We actually had really cool plaques for the awards, but Murphy got involved in those too, and a delay from the manufacturer meant they weren't there in time.  We normally don't have finisher medals, except for our half-iron distance events.  Fortunately, I had enough MTS visors and socks on hand to give as awards for our age groups and overall winners. 
      We're already working with the Baltimore Rec and Parks staff for next year's race, and rest assured that the hiccups we experienced this year will be long gone.  Hopefully we'll be able to bring some more events to the great city of Baltimore as well.  Thanks for racing with us, and thanks very much for your feedback.
    John Langford, Race Director – Maryland Triathlon Series (

  2. John, I have good memories from my first Tri.  I am sure these events are a labor of love and a lot of work.  Thanks for putting it together. -T

  3. What an encouragement! I am sharing a similar story this year as I will take on my first Triathlon as well.
    When is the next Druid Hill Triathlon?
    Congrats for the successful finish!

    1. Hi Giovanna,

      I am not sure about the date, check out the Maryland SetUp Triathlon series for information.

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