Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Race Reviews

In my last post I listed my planned races for the upcoming season.  Today while running with my friends Judy and Lesley I mentioned that was thinking about giving a brief review of my opinion of each race.  Some may be useful information and other stuff totally just my opinionated blather. 

So here goes!   

NOLA Rock n' Roll Half Marathon - March 4 -13.1 grueling miles
I can't say a lot about this race since I haven't done it before but was happy to learn that they are going to have gender specific drifit shirts!!!  Being a small person this made me immensely happy!!  Men's tech shirts typically have tight necks, really long and loose sleeves and for me can be worn as a dress!  The location of this race alone however speaks volumes!!!  It's NOLA baby!!!  There is also the really cool bonus that I've managed to talk a lot of our family that live in New Orleans to do the race too!!!!  The Spansels are going to rule the Rock n' Roll!!  One niece, Michelle was already signed up and that's what gave me the idea to do it too.  Then my husband Bill got on board, his brother Charlie, his sister Nina another niece Amy is coming in from Houston too!!  I'm still working on a couple others!  I'm going to run it for fun (but hope if my knees hold up for a top 10 age group finish!)

Tradition's Triathlon - Biloxi, MS
March 31 - 1/3 mile swim / 17 mile bike / 3 mile run
Early Entry Fee:  $60
Can't report on this one either since I've never raced it except that it's pretty close to where my sister Connie lives and am hoping that maybe she can come out for the race.  She's never seen me in a triathlon ever - so that would make this really awesome!!

Crawfishman Triathlon - Grand Hills Estates, Bush, LA
May 6?? - 1000 yard swim / 18 mile bike / 4 mile run
Early Entry Fee: ??
"Spanish Moss in my hand, Turn me into Crawfishman!!"  A totally cool race in Covington, LA.  Last year Bill's sister Nina, her husband Lonnie and Nina's son Scott visiting from Virginia (he was training at Keesler - he's serving our country in the Navy - so proud of him) came out to watch this race!!  It's in great venue and has a nice long swim (yay!!) a pretty tough bike course and a hilly 4 mile run. Wave swim start! Cotton t-shirts with a really cool logo, there aren't many cotton shirts at the races anymore so this was really neat to get.  A crawfish claw key chain that doubles as a bottle opener (this is Louisiana after all!).  Post race food and beverage were awesome!!!  Red Beans and Rice, Jambalaya, Hubig's Pies!!, all kinds of cookies etc, beer AND they were blending up Margaritas!!  Oh yeah and a nice pint glass with the race logo as you crossed the finish line!  The awards were really neat - framed prints from a local artist that lives on the race course, they all depicted things representing the state of Louisiana!  This race has been going on for what feels like forever.  It doesn't disappoint!!  Looking forward to going back this year!

Heatwave Classic Triathlon -  Ross Barnett Reservoir, Jackson, MS
June 2  - .5 mile swim / 24.5 mile bike / 10K run
Entry Fee through 1/31: $65
The last time I did this race was back in 2001, the first time I did it was it's inaugural year in 1987.  The race lives up to it's name and it's usually really, really hot and humid.  The swim is short (good race if your swim isn't your strong suit), the bike is on the Natchez Trace! and the run is on Ridgeland's multi use trail.  Not a trail run though, it's concrete or at least was when I did it last time.  The awards are really cool pottery from a local artist!!  I still use mine from 2001 to hold all of my energy gels!  When the race was in it's inception the coordinators of the Crawfishman came up and helped organize it. 

Race Of Grace Triathlon - Philadelphia, MS
June ?? - .25 swim / 18 mile bike / 5K run
Early Entry Fee: $65 last year
My first race after moving to Mississippi last year.  Really short swim - time trial start by seeded entry swim time, rolling hills on the bike (this was really tough for me last year coming from the beach in North Carolina), and the run is out and back on part of the bike course.  Cotton T-shirts looked really masculine, I don't wear mine.  They gave us one of those drawstring bags at packet pick up.  No swim caps - this wasn't on their website - luckily I had a spare one in my transition bag or I would have been in trouble.  I think it should be something that they post.  Post race food was all kinds of homemade baked goodies from the local ladies!  It was brownies and cookies galore!  The awards were pretty cool last year - it's a cyclist on a bike.

Sunfish Triathlon - Meridian, MS
July 14 - 1/3 mile swim / 17 mile bike / 5K run
Entry fee: $60 <June 22
This is another one of those races that I did a long, long time ago.  Different venue back then.  Another pretty short swim - I don't think they gave us swim caps here either - time trial start by age group last year.  This year because of all the grumbling and complaining from the athletes they are starting the swim in the order that you register.  I'm not a big fan of the time trial start in a swim, there is a lot of standing around waiting and if you're decent swimmer you've got to maneuver around a lot of slower people. Plus you have no idea of how you're doing during the race - it's pretty much go as hard as you possibly can and then wait around for the results to be posted to see how you placed.  We got dri-fit t-shirts at this race too, they were unisex and the smallest size was a men's small.  Way to big for me to wear - unfortunate to because it's a cool kelly green and I really like the logo on the front of the shirt.  I'm thinking I might attack it with my sewing machine (yes, I can sew) and see if I can alter it into looking more like a girl's shirt.  The awards were awesome here too!  All kinds of different shapes of hand thrown pottery made by Deep South Pottery.  Post race food included Popeye's chicken - good health food.  There was something else too but I can't remember what it was.  There was some really good sweet tea though - mmmm...  the drink of the South.

Sportspectrum River Cities Triathlon - Shreveport, LA
August ??  - .5 mile swim / 18.2 mile bike / 5K run
Entry Fee: $$$
Race entry opens on April 1st - in years past this race has sold out in a couple hours.  They take 1000 people.  I had to beg a favor to get into this race last year.  It is by far my favorite race.  If I include last year I think I've done it 17 times!!  The race packet is unbelievable.  First there is The Bag - last year it was a backpack that is like a transition bag.  In past years I've had rolling duffel bags, big gear bags, small gear bags, giant transition back packs, small back packs - pretty much you name it they've had it.  They're typically embroidered with the race logo for that year.  So along with the bag last year we got a wind jacket with embroidered logo, a hat with the logo, a women's!!!! v-neck tech tee, some Feetures Socks, and a 2nd tech tee with the race theme logo.  Mattie Brown, owner of the Sportspectrum, changes the theme of the race every year.  One of my favorite was his One Fish, Two Fish, Tri Fish, Blue Fish year with a bunch of kooky Dr. Seuss characters on the back where is said "Here are some who like to run, they run for fun in the hot hot sun!" It's always fun to see what the next year will be.  It's a wave start with about 13 swim waves.  The bike is rolling hills and the run is mostly shaded through the Cypress Black Bayou State Park.  He has an elite swim wave too but then you don't qualify for Age Group awards.  The top 5 men and women receive Oakley Sunglasses!!  And the age group award are always something different.  Last year we got clocks - they were okay - mine is hanging in the Laundry Room. Post race food is awesome!  There is beer, hamburgers and french fries!  In past years there has been red beans and rice.  And there is always the ubiquitous cookies and fruit.  Last year my friend Deanna went with me - this year it's going to be another girl's road trip with all four of us going!!!

Gator Bait Triathlon - Vicksburg, MS
August ?? - 1500 meter swim / 40K bike / 10K run
Entry Fee:  $60 (last year)
2011 was the first year for the Gator Bait Triathlon.  It was put on by the Vicksburg Swim Association.  On race day along with the triathlon there was an Open Water Swim with varying distances.  Deanna, Judy and I went to race.  Judy (who was a collegiate swimmer at Auburn) was planning on doing the 1 mile swim but we talked her into bringing her bike and tri stuff along "just in case"!  She was thinking that she might just switch to the tri if possible - it was and she did and had a great race - the 2nd fastest overall swim of the day and won Masters Female!  The shirts for this race were drifit but really disappointing.  They were kind of brick red/mud brown color and were thin and really, really big.  I was bummed because the race logo is really cool and I was looking forward to the shirt.  They would have been better to do cotton tshirts.  We did get swim caps for this race with a cool gator on the side.  But unfortunately the caps were orange.  The swim buoys were orange.  And the swim buoys were really small and there weren't enough of them to site.  Try looking at a sea of orange caps and try to pick out the 18 inch buoy amongst them.  Fail.
The bike is flat as a pancake and the run out and back with the sun in your face on the way back.  We lucked out last year and it was a bit cooler than normal for August.  Post race food was great - grilled chicken sandwiches, little bags of peanuts, raisins and M&M's, cookies and beer!   The awards for this race were really cool too!  Have you ever seen those real dried gator heads that you can buy in the souvenir shops in New Orleans?  That was the awards on a plaque.  I think an old piece of barn wood would have been a nice touch instead of the typical fake wood award plaque.  What was really disappointing though is that there wasn't anything on the plaques. No little brass plate saying 2011 Gator Bait Triathlon etc.  We were told that they were going to send out "personalized" brass plates to us but they never did. I really don't care to have my name on my award, I know who it belongs to.  I sent an email to the race director and never heard anything back from him.  Fail.  Luckily my friend Lesley who is a coach in Laurel has a connection and is going to get brass plates made for me and Judy for our Gator Head awards!  Thank you Lesley!!  I am planning on going back to the race though - it was a good venue and I had a good time. 

Tri4Life Triathlon - Brandon, MS
September ?? - 1/3 mile swim / 13 mile bike / 5K run
Entry Fee: $60
I don't have a lot of information about this race.  Last year on the way to Jackson early on race morning is when I hit a dog on Hwy 49.  It made the Outback undriveable and my husband Bill had to come to my rescue.  I went home really upset about the dog.  Missed the race.  Sadness.

Brett Robinson Alabama Coastal Triathlon - Gulf Shores, AL
September 8 - 300 yard swim / 10 mile bike / 2 mile run & 1.5K swim / 40K bike / 10K run
Entry Fee:  $55 sprint / $150 Intermediate <8/15
The Brett Robinson has two races going on at the same time on the same day at the same venue - beautiful Gulf Shores, Alabama!  My friend Lesley was signed up for the Intermediate distance race and I went ahead and registered for the sprint so she wouldn't be there all alone.  The sprint race was time trial start by seeded swim time.  The bike is pancake flat and the run is out and back finishing behind The Hangout.  I have to say - I loved this race!  It was all out from beginning to end.  I did almost get hit by a car when one decided to cut across in front of me into his condo complex.  I had to come to a dead stop and was screaming at the top of my lungs.  Scary.  So I'd have to say that maybe some better volunteer effort is needed.  The shirts were great - gender specific tech tees, v-neck too - great logo - one of my favorite race shirts of the season.  The Intermediate distance participants also received a Headsweats visor.  Post race food was amazing - there was a breakfast buffet for the sprint participants (we went off first) and then they put out a lunch buffet for the 2nd race.  Beer and sodas and fruit too!

Mighty Magnolia Triathlon - Hattiesburg, MS
October 13 - 1/3 mile swim, 16.5 mile bike / 3 mile run
Entry Fee: $55 <6/30
Our local race!!  Held a little west of the city at the Heritage Subdivision.  Point to point time trial swim - swim caps were provided!!  The bike is rolling hills with one that is kind of tough towards the end and the run is a loop with two little out and back sections.  I helped volunteer for this race last year with packet stuffing and packet pick up.  The cotton tshirts had a nice logo but on the back were some little letters that symbolized some phrases that I wasn't really crazy about. We also got a nice drawstring bag.   The awards were all different there were ceramic plates, some pottery and first, second and third overall got a garden stone etched with the name of the race.  Pizza was the post race food!!  There was a problem on the run at the first aid station - there wasn't anyone there to hand out water.  I think it could use more volunteers, at the run exit (which was just beyond the finish) athletes and spectators were walking back and forth across the exit while runners still competing were trying to find their way out - it was confusing.  This is a great little race though- it caps at 375.  There is an amazing raffle held before the awards - every participant gets two tickets in their race packet and you can purchase more at the race site that morning.  There were some awesome prizes including a wetsuit!  The Hattiesburg American (the local paper) was on the scene but they pretty much only covered the men's race with their photos and copy.  They didn't even mention the women's winners. Fail. I even sent an email to the reporter and no response.