Triathlon Across the USA: State #12–Arizona: First Reverse

Triathlon Across the USA: State #12–Arizona: First Reverse

Mesa, Arizona, February 9, 2013 – 2nd Annual Tri Catching Cupid Reverse Sprint Triathlon

There is no shortage of reasons to do a triathlon – see “15 Reasons for Those 50 and Older to Do Triathlons”.  In some cases, the race itself becomes secondary to other, more important goals.  Read the full article to see how the Arizona triathlon fit this description.

In the case of the Arizona triathlon, simply getting away from the cold and ice of Minnesota during February could have been enough incentive.

However, there were other benefits to this triathlon.  Arizona has been home to many family members.  In 2013, these included Joy’s aunt Evelyn (who lived in Mesa at the time and attended the triathlon with us) and her Aunt Delores and uncle Bob (who lived in Vail, AZ).

The trip also provided opportunity to get in some outdoor activity in February not involving snow or ice, namely hiking to the top of Flatiron in the Lost Dutchmen State Park.


The 3-mile hike (6-mile roundtrip) to the top of Flatiron (upper right side of the picture) in the Lost Dutchmen State Park provides good aerobic training and an incredibly beautiful view of the desert and downtown Phoenix.


Getting to Arizona

Given the goals of meeting family members, getting in some outdoor recreation, and competing in the triathlon, we left Minneapolis on Thursday evening with bike in tow.  The partially disassembled bike was packed neatly and securely in the Thule bike case and checked as luggage on Delta flight 999.

Upon arriving in Phoenix and picking up our luggage (including the oversized black bike case – traveling with a bike is another story for a later time), we drove to Mesa to Aunt Evelyn’s house and proceeded to bed.

After breakfast the next morning, Aunt Evelyn and Joy got in a few hands of the card game named golf while I reassembled and test rode my bike.  I was now ready for the triathlon.


2nd Annual Tri Catching Cupid Reverse Sprint Triathlon

What is a reverse triathlon?  Very simply, it is a triathlon in which the order of the events is reversed.  In other words, instead of the swim-bike-run of a traditional sprint triathlon, the order of events in a reverse triathlon is run-bike-swim.


Logo for the Tri Catching Cupid Reverse Triathlon from the race T-shirt.


Tri Catching Cupid Reverse Sprint Triathlon

Distances for the individual legs of the Tri Catching Cupid reverse sprint triathlon were:

  • Run: 3 mile (4.8 km)
  • Bike: 12 mile (19.3 km)
  • Swim: 400 yards (366 m)



This was the first race of the season and a test of the training that I followed since the last race in November in Clearwater, Florida.  Since the previous race, I had been following a run training plan that involved three runs per week including:

  1. A ‘long, slow’ run of 6 miles during which the goal was to keep one’s heart rate within the aerobic zone,
  2. One session of interval training involving 5-7 repeats of short (0.25 to 1 mile) bursts of high intensity followed by a recovery period aimed at reducing one’s heart rate to within the aerobic zone, and
  3. A ‘brick’ (bike followed by run) session involving a 3 mile run after a cycling class.

The good news was that during the race I met the time goal that had been used as the basis for the previous three month’s training.



The 12 mile bike leg consisted of three loops around a one mile square section (four miles per loop) of public road.  It was mostly uneventful, except for the time that I ran off the road and through tall grass that lined the road.

Since the course was relatively flat and boring, I started fidgeting with the cover on the water bottle that is clamped between the aero bars.  Apparently, I was paying too close attention to that process and ran off the side of the road into the tall grass.

I expected that at any moment during the few seconds that I was off the road to ride into a large rock and fall, or worse yet, damage my wheel.

None of these doomsday scenarios played out.  I edged the bike back onto the road and, except for the few pieces of long grass that were being held onto by my bike, no one could have known what had just happened.  The bike and I survived my irresponsible, distracted riding.

I arrived into the transition area, removing my feet from the bike shoes while they were still attached to the pedals, ready to hit the pool.

I remember proudly that I arrived after one of the guys in my age group and beat him into the pool.


Arriving into the transition area following the bike leg of the triathlon. Note that my feet are out of the shoes that remain clipped into the bike pedals.



Unfortunately for me, the same guy that I had leap-frogged in the transition area, passed me within the first length of the 16 lengths of the 25 yard pool.

I finished the race without further excitement.  Actually, the swim at the end is quite refreshing.


Lessons learned

The triathlon seemed to be reversed in yet one other way.

This race was relatively small with less than 100 participants.  Within my age group – males 60 years and older – there were four participants.

Ironically, the oldest of those 60 and over, a man over 70 years young, took first place within our age group.  I, the youngest, placed fourth.  The one bright spot is that all of us finished well within the top half of all participants.

Again, I was taught not only humility but respect for the ability and physical ability of Senior Triathletes.


Race First’s

  • First reverse triathlon
  • First run where part of the course was on a track
  • First swim in an outdoor pool
  • First race that served as a fundraiser for a Synchronized Swim Team



Tri Catching Cupid served as a fundraiser for the Arizona Desert Dolphins Synchronized Swim Team (Reason #2 of ‘15 Reasons for Those 50 and Older to Do Triathlons’).

Following the race, we were all treated – and it truly was a treat – to a demonstration by the Arizona Desert Dolphins Synchronized Swim Team.  While the athletes make it look so easy, synchronized swimming is anything but easy.  It requires advanced water skills, significant strength, endurance, and flexibility as well as exceptional grace and precision timing.

Joy’s and my plan to prioritize triathlons based on the location of family and friends has seemed sound.  While we did see the aunts and uncle again, this was among the last time we spent time with them before they passed away.  We look back with deep fondness at the time we had with them around this triathlon.


A highlight of the Arizona Triathlon was being with Aunt Evelyn Schock during her last winter in Arizona.


For more information about the Catching Cupid triathlon, go to


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