On August 11, 2012, Triskrapers David, Lena, and Jessica competed in the Mountain Lakes Triathlon in Guntersville, Alabama. This was a modified Sprint race, with the following distances: 600 yd swim / 16.2 mi bike / 3 mi run.
Lodging: We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Guntersville, which is a short drive (or bike ride) to the race site (maybe 2 miles). We strongly recommend this hotel for future triathletes on race weekend.
The hotel staff woke up early on race day to prepare pre-race goodie bags ready for the racers. The hotel was accommodating for late check-outs, and, most important, it was very clean and updated. If you do this race, stay here. Lots of racers stayed here.
Note: The race website says that the Best Western is the closest to race site, but it is only about 1,000 feet closer. And the Best Western was a little rough around the edges.
Karaoke: The Best Western apparently has karaoke 4 nights a week, but, on the weekend, they have live entertainment. The bar is smoking friendly, and you could smell the smoke oozing out of the ceiling tiles. This race weekend, unfortunately, involved no karaoke. My shirt still smells like smoke from the 30 seconds it took me to ask if they had karaoke.
Race-Day: Team Magic ran the event, with packet pick-up the night before. Everything went smooth. ACME Multi-Sports traveled down from Nashville to have a booth and support the racers.
Swim: The course is a classic out-and-back rectangle course. The swim started at the lake’s edge, with a sandy area (covered also with a rug) as swimmers started. The swim is in a cove, with the first (and final) 50 yards in water that was only 3 to 4 feet deep. For weak swimmers, this provided some time to get comfortable in the water (or be lazy).
The lake has an insane amount of some kind of seaweed, called milfoil. The stuff would get on your arms and face during the swim. This was pretty distracting and gross. It was difficult to get off your feet in T1.
The water had no current, with the winds at your back as you made your last straight line. Glare was an issue on the return to shore, and I ended up following a pack of fellow swimmers back to the shore.
Novice swimmers really felt that extra 200 yards: the water around the last turn’s buoy looked like Vietnam, with distressed swimmers splashing.
Out of the swim, you take a 200 yard or so run in grass up to T1.
Bike Course: Everybody talked about how flat the bike course was. Don’t be fooled: it had its share of hills, just nothing steep. The down-side of a (relatively) flat course, however, is that there aren’t any downhills to make up time on. Still, it was a pretty fast course.
It was a scenic ride, with shade coverage for about 40% of it. The course was only partially closed, so Saturday morning traffic was a concern for the final 5 or 6 miles. There were a few cows and roaming dogs, so the time passed pretty quick.
The final leg into T2 was a fairly straight shot.
Run: The run was an out-and-back loop, on a paved walking/jogging trail in the park. The lanes were fairly tight, since coming and going traffic shared the same trail. It was nice and shady and flat. There were lots of water stations, but don’t be fooled by the strangely placed station at the end–it was only about 200 yards from the finish line.
Overall: This was a really nice race. The course was a nice departure from the concrete nightmare that is the Music City Triathlon (the last one we did). Guntersville is a quaint little town, and the locals seemed appreciative of the influx of spandexed athletes. It was about 3 hours from Nashville.
- Order of Finish: Jessica; Lena; and David.
- No team member vomited during or after the race.
- Fastest Swim: Lena
- Fastest Bike: David
- Fastest Run: Jessica
- You would be shocked at how ugly the tie-dyed race shirts were.