This is always my favorite race of the season. The two day festival that takes place completely “off-grid” brings out a big crowd and is somehow one of the best organized events I go to each year. I missed going last year so I was not aware that Lake San Antonio was WAY DOWN for a second year in a row. I was shocked to show up at a “triathlon” and not see any water in sight. It turns out the lake was intentionally lowered as a result of the ongoing drought so the swim portion now takes place 2.2 miles from the bike transition. In order to keep all the final distances in line with the 70.3 half Ironman, the run leg is now split up with a 2.2 mile run, then 56 mile bike, then 11.9 mile run.
For the fourth year in a row I was covering the 70.3 Half Ironman California in Oceanside. Last year I was “assigned” to capture a location that was filled with road hazard cones but this year I was able to get back onto the old Pacific Highway adjacent to Camp Pendleton. The old road is getting a little more beat up as it is no longer maintained for civilian traffic – and unfortunately a lot of the age group competitors were a little less savvy about picking the smooth “trail” portion of the road and instead opted for the old pavement. The result was quite a few flat tires and in 3 cases it resulted in me doing the tire changes. Unfortunately on my last tire change of the day, the fellow’s CO2 canister blew up on me so I was not able to get any air in his tires, but I was happy to provide assistance to the other athletes who were having technical trouble.
The Wildflower Triathlon is one of my favorite events to travel to each year. It is a 2-day festival on remote Lake San Antonio with camping onsite and thousands of participants competing in half Ironman (70.3), Mountain Bike Triathlon, and Olympic distance triathlon. This year had extreme contrasts in weather from Saturday to Sunday with temperatures in the 90’s on Saturday and the a sprinkling of rain with temperatures in the 60’s on Sunday.
There are eight events that comprise the World Triathlon Series and San Diego marks the second stop of the tour. The full event spans several days and includes individual races for Elite Men and Elite Women – but between those two Pro races, an amateur “Age Group” race takes place on the same course. The age group race kicks off shortly after sunrise and the starts are staggered so it can be difficult to tell “who won” the race until results from each of the categories come in. But ultimately most of the athletes are racing against the clock and themselves, so the ability to compete on the exact same course as the best in the world is a great thrill on its own.