Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Race Report: 2011 Champaign Mini Triathlon

1st Place in Age Group Medal
On Saturday August 6th, 2011 I competed in the 2011 Champaign Mini Triathlon in Champaign, IL.  This was the site of my first ever triathlon a year ago.  I was excited about this event because this would be my first event I have repeated and could gage my improvement from a year ago.

Before the 2010 race I never really ran or swam that much prior to the race. 

Since that race I became a very active runner, a better swimmer, and overall improved triathlete.  So I went into the 2011 race with great expectations. 

My goal was to finish in under 38 minutes, finish top 10 overall, and finish 1st in my age group.  At the end of the day I finished in 38:14, 13th overall (11th in male division), and 1st place in my age group.  Came really close to accomplishing all three goals.  However, the most important thing to me was that I was 3 minutes and 13 seconds fast than last year.

Overall, I was pleased with how the race went.

The official timing of this event is pretty low tech.  Every participant is sent off every 15 seconds.  There were no timing mats and therefore no splits.  My split times below were gathered from my Garmin 310XT.  By the way, the Garmin 310XT is an awesome tool for training and racing if you are a triathlete.  Sounds like a product review in the works.


The swim portion at this event is 400 yards.  The first 200 yards are in the lazy river.  The purist in me says to swim it, but I also know the difficulty in swimming in 3 feet deep water.  So I decided to go with a dolphin dive approach in the lazy river.  This is what a majority of the other competitors did as well. 

Once out of the lazy river you have to run around to the main pool and do eight 25 yard laps.  This part you actually had to swim.  The water depth was only 5 feet so I guess you could have walked through it if you wanted.  This portion of the race killed me last year due to lack of any meaningful practice time in the pool.  This year it went really well and completed the 8 laps in under 4 minutes.

Race traffic in the pool wasn't too bad.  I passed a few slower competitors and nobody really got in my way.

Total swim time (lazy river, run to main pool, swim in main pool) was 6:17.  My goal time for this portion was 6:25.

Transition #1 (Swim to Bike)

My T1 time was 1:51.  The transition from swim to bike has always been a struggle for me.  I always seem to take longer than I plan to.  I was hoping to be about 20 seconds faster in this area, but I had a little trouble with getting my feet dried off enough to put socks on.  I am thinking I may need to learn to cycle with out socks then put socks on before the run.  That way it would allow my feet to dry and thus be able to more quickly out socks on.

Once I had everything on I grabbed my bike and ran to the mounting cone.  Mounted bike with no issues.  The only problem minor mishap was my bike was in "granny gear" which didn't allow me to get up to speed as fast as I wanted.


The 6 mile bike portion (actually only about 5.85 miles) is three 2 mile laps around the park.  There are four turns and two long straight aways.  It's pretty most of the way around the circuit.  There is a slight incline going up Kenwood Road and as you turn right on John Street.  Then its a slight downhill from there until you get back where you started.  Had a headwind on the down hill portion and a tailwind on the uphill portion. 

My goal on the bike was to average 22 mph.  I was able to maintain that speed consistently throughout the entire 6 miles.  This biggest change from last year is that I put aerobars on my bike and purchased an aero helmet.  These two items alone are a life saver.  They allow me to gain every bit of aerodynamics available and keep me refreshed for the run.  The only piece of air cheating equipment I need now is a tri bike.

Never got passed and did a lot of passing.  I was pleased with how my bike split went. 

Transition #2 (Bike to Run)

Transition 2 went very well.  I dismounted with no issues and ran to my transition spot.  I had some difficulty racking my bike.  The bike racks weren't big enough to secure the bikes properly.  At most events you rack your bike by placing the seat over a horizontal bar.  The racks at this event are like you see at a park where you put the wheel in between two slots, etc.

The first attempt at racking my bike resulted in my bike falling over.  I was tempted to just leave it, but I didn't want to effect anyone else's transition setup.  The second attempt I took a few extra seconds to make sure my bike was properly racked.  This took precious seconds off my race time.  I was hoping to do T2 in 30 seconds, but ended up at 50 seconds.


The run portion is 2 miles and takes you on the same loop as the bike portion.  Except you run on the sidewalks instead of the street.  My goal was to run the 2 miles at a 6:45/mi pace.  Learning from past mistakes of starting too fast I decided to start my run doing about 6:55/mi pace then speed up a little faster about every quarter mile.  This allowed me time to get my run legs back.  Towards the end of the run I was able to maintain a significantly faster pace which brought me to the finish averaging a 6:48/mi pace.

I was pretty much by myself the entire run.  Only passed a couple of competitors.


I was very please with the overall outcome of the race and was excited to see my improvement over the course of a year.  A couple of little mistakes here and there cost me my goal time, but all in all, it was a great race.

My only gripe about this event, as it was last year, is that the transition area is really a free for all.  They have bike racks which aren't big enough for most adult bikes.  The transition area is not really marked off that good.  One would assume that the area is where the bike racks are.  But people were placing their bikes anywhere in the general area.

If I had known you could setup here I could have saved about 20 seconds

Transition area.  View from transition exit

 I got there early to secure a good rack position, but really I should have just waited because I could have gotten a lot closer to the transition exit if I knew it was more of a free for all.

Also a lot of participants, from bike to run, will just dump their bike around the transition entrance and not return it to their rack.  I guess one could do this if they wore tennis shoes on the bike portion.  I think the event organizers could do a better job educating participants and volunteers on transition area etiquette.

Again, this is more of a family friendly event, so I try not to complain that much.  It is a good event for all types of people and especially younger kids getting involved in the sport. 

I haven't decided if I will do this event again next year.  The next time I do this event will hopefully be with one of my kids doing their first triathlon.  After participating in USA Triathlon sanctioned events I appreciate the rules and structure that USAT events provide.

On to the next race.  I have two more 5k races and two more triathlons before I settle into my winter routine.  Hopefully I can qualify for the 2012 USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals before this racing season is over.

Train.  Race.  Repeat...


  1. Good report, Mike! I've done this event 4 times and enjoyed it more each time. As far as the Lazy River goes: I've swum it twice, with no problem, and never even thought about dolphin diving it. But I guess that's a way to go. I'm set to do it again in a couple of weeks, so I'll make sure to notice if anyone else takes that approach. Best of luck in your future races!

  2. Thank you for this race report! I am doing this event as my first tri tomorrow and this helps a lot in knowing what to expect.

  3. Awesome, glad it was beneficial. Good luck!!

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