Triathlon Across the USA: State #34 – Louisiana

Triathlon Across the USA: State #34 – Louisiana
Youngsville, Louisiana, October 1, 2017 – Sugarman Triathlon, Sugar Mill Pond. Without going into to all of the details, I can say that a triathlon in Louisiana was definitely not in our plans for 2017.  One of the races that I had planned in a western state never took place.  Then there was Hurricane Harvey. On the other hand, the October 1st date and location for the Sugarman Triathlon fit nicely into our plans to visit Florida for our wedding anniversary.  On top of that, its location in western Louisiana gave us the opportunity to meet a friend who had been through a horrific time with Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. While our friend lives in Katy (Houston), Texas, she had been commuting to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for work for over a year.  Youngsville provided a perfect meeting point and opportunity for a face-to-face visit to get caught up.  

Getting to the Triathlon

Joy and I left our Minnesota home at a little before 6am on Friday morning.  With audiobook playing, we headed toward Little Rock, Arkansas where we would spend our first night.  The overnight stop in Little Rock meant that we were roughly two-thirds of the way to the race venue in Youngsville (Lafayette), Louisiana. We finished the trip to Youngsville the next day, arriving in plenty of time for packet pickup, a quick visit to the Sugar Mill Pond (race venue), and some authentic Cajun cuisine at Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn with our friend.
Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn in Broussard, Louisiana

Poor Boy’s Riverside Inn. If you happen to visit, be on the lookout for the ‘pet’ raccoons looking for hand-outs near the entrance.

 

8th Annual Sugarman Triathlon

2017 was the 8th annual running of Sugarman Triathlon.  Like many triathlons, Sugarman doubled as a fundraiser. For this race, the proceeds benefited two worthy causes:  the Jacob Crouch Foundation for suicide prevention and TRAIL (Transportation Recreation Alternatives In Louisiana), an organization aimed at “building and maintaining opportunities for outdoor recreation”. Distances for the individual legs of this USAT-sanctioned sprint triathlon were:
  • Swim: 0.3 mile (500 m)
  • Bike: 15 mile (24 km)
  • Run: 3.1 mile (5 km)
Participants had the choice of racing within Age Groups, in Relays, or as Clydesdale (male) and Athena (female).  

Transition

The transition area for the nearly 200 participants occupied the space on Waterview Street between Shore Drive and Prescott Boulevard, in front of the Sugar Mill Athletic Club. Racers were assigned a rack based on our race number.   As is customary, we racked our bikes alternately facing one of the two transition area exits.  For example, if the bike occupying the end position faced toward the ‘Bike Out’ end, the next bike would be racked to face opposite this, or toward the ‘Run Out’ location.
Transition area for Sugarman Triathlon on race morning from the ‘Run Out’ end.

Transition area for Sugarman Triathlon on race morning from the ‘Run Out’ end.

 

How Do You Setup Your Transition Space?

You may have heard the saying “you cannot win a triathlon in transition, but you can lose it.”  Any time spent in transition is just as important as time taken in the individual legs of the race.
Shaving a minute from your transition time is just as good as reducing your swim or bike or run time by a minute.” Source: http://seniortriathletes.com/how-to-achieve-faster-transition-times/
One key to faster transition times in a sprint distance triathlon is keeping the setup of the transition area simple.  Take a look at the video to see how my transition area was setup for this and most other sprint distance races.  Simpler is faster.

Video describing setup of my transition area at Sugarman Triathlon.

Before the Start

Race organizers created a pleasant tone for the event in the moments before the first racers hit the course.  Participants, volunteers, and spectators all came together at dockside to join in reciting the pledge of allegiance, singing of the National Anthem, and prayer. Congratulations to the young lady to lead us in the National Anthem.  What a beautiful voice!  

Swim

The swim was an in-water start with participants beginning in groups based on gender and age group.  The first group (also referred to as the ‘first wave’) included all males aged 50 and over and all Relay participants.
Awaiting the swim start at Sugarman Triathlon.

50 and over male Age Groupers and Clydesdales and swim participants of Relay Teams awaiting the swim start at Sugarman Triathlon.

 

Bike

The 15 mile bike course was well marked and well staffed with volunteers and local police.  There was no question about the course or the safety of the participants.  The out-and-back course was nice and flat (at least by Minnesota standards). However, the less than ideal road conditions, with a large number of asphalt repairs, kept us “on our toes”.  These repairs meant lots of rough patches for those of us who obeyed the call to stay to right. Fortunately, my fellow racers were forgiving.  This was especially true for the guy who I pulled in front of to avoid an exceptionally rough area.  Thank you, sir.  You are a gentleman.  

Run

The temperature just before the start of the race was in the low 70’s F.   However, it shot up quickly.  By the time I finished the run, the temperature was somewhere in the upper 80’s – and very humid. Such conditions are not unusual, or even considered hot, for those who live in the South.  However, for me – a Minnesotan – the upper 80’s with high humidity represents a condition in which I generally say “Maybe later” to running. My run was slow with stops at each of the many aid stations.  Despite taking a glass of Powerade at each of these, I experienced a cramp in my hamstring with about a half mile to go. Thankfully, a quick prayer resulted in relief from the cramp.  I was able to finish the final 1/2-mile of the run around the lake with a respectable sprint through the dockside finish line.
The finish area for the Sugarman Triathlon was in the park next to Sugar Mill Pond.

The finish area for the Sugarman Triathlon was in the park next to Sugar Mill Pond (in the background). The red inflatable at the upper right (seen beneath the tree branches) marks the finish line.

 

After the Race

With the race finished, Joy and I attended the 11am service at the Bayou Church.  Not only did we enjoy the worship and fellowship with other believers but helped to celebrate the pastor’s 33rd anniversary as pastor.   We were also able to experience Acadiana (French Louisiana) from yet another perspective. From here, we continued our journey on to The Villages, Florida where we would spend the next two weeks.  

Race First’s

  • First race within a planned community/neighborhood.
  • First race involving swim in a man-made pond.
  • First race involving roundabouts on the bike and run courses.

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