Triathlon Across the USA: State #19 – Wyoming
Gillette, Wyoming, May 3, 2014 – Razor City Splash & Dash Triathlon
The Razor City Splash & Dash Triathlon in Gillette, Wyoming was the opportunity to visit family, explore Gillette, and enjoy 15 minutes of fame.
Planning the Wyoming Triathlon
Plans to compete in the Razor City Splash & Dash Triathlon, my first of the 2014 season, was cemented with a check mailed to the Campbell County Parks & Recreation on January 10, 2014.
Why this triathlon?
If you have read the post titled “How to Choose Your Next Triathlon”, you are, no doubt, thinking that there must have been a connection to family or friends weaved somewhere into the story.
If you have not read the earlier post, please do so later. For now, I’ll give you the short version of the answer to the above question.
First, Wyoming was one of the states in which I had not completed a triathlon.
More importantly, Gillette was a short drive past Rapid City, South Dakota, and the summer home of Joy’s dear Aunt Evelyn. As it turns out, Evelyn learned that she enjoyed being a triathlon spectator during the Catching Cupid Triathlon in Mesa, Arizona (State #12). She was more than ready to watch another race.
Travel to the Wyoming Triathlon
Joy and I left our Minnesota home on Thursday evening spending the night in Mitchell, South Dakota, home of the world famous Corn Palace. We rose early the next morning, reaching Rapid City in time for lunch with Aunt Evelyn.
While we had planned to pick up Evelyn on the way to Gillette – and she was looking forward to the trip – health problems prevented her from joining us. Nevertheless, we were able to spend precious time with her both on the way to and from Gillette.
After lunch and some ‘catching up’, we made the roughly two hour trip to Gillette. Arriving mid-afternoon allowed us to prepare for the race, pick up the race packet, and explore the area a bit before having an early dinner at the Prime Rib restaurant.
Gillette is named after Edward Gillette, an engineer and surveyor for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad who in 1891 recommended the eventual route of the railroad.
But, what about the ‘Razor City’ nickname that is the basis for the triathlon’s name?
Legend has it that the ‘Razor City’ nickname came from the association the Gillette name and the company that manufactures razor blades.
The more popular nickname for Gillette today is ‘Energy Capital of the Nation’. This name recognizes the city’s central location within an area from which large quantities of coal, oil, and coal bed methane gas have been obtained.
One fact about Gillette relevant to the triathlon is its altitude. Like many western USA cities, Gillette is located at an elevation significantly higher than that of my home state of Minnesota. For this race, the average altitude was 4,550 to just over 4,600 feet.
11th Annual Razor City Splash & Dash Sprint Triathlon
The race is one of several races run by Campbell County Parks & Recreation (CCPR). You can find information about the next triathlon and other races sponsored by CCPR at https://www.ccgov.net/521/Races.
Distances for the individual legs of this sprint triathlon were:
- Swim: 0.51 mile (900 yds or 823 m)
- Bike: 11.3 miles (18.2 km) as measured from my bike computer (officially listed as ‘approximately 12 miles’)
- Run: 3.1 miles (5 km)
The next morning, we rose early to reach the Recreation Center for the opening of the transition area. In fact, we were the first to arrive.
After setting up my transition area, I chatted with the race director. During the conversation, the fact that this race was the Wyoming triathlon for the 50-states quest came up.
As more racers began to arrive, the conversation turned to other topics. Before I knew it, we were in the aquatic center for the pre-race meeting.
Gillette is blessed with an incredible pool, which was the location for the triathlon’s swim leg. For the triathlon, the Olympic size pool (50-yard length) was configured as a 25-yard pool with 20 lanes.
The swim for this race involved five triathletes in each lane, all who had estimated similar times for their swim. The entire 900 yards of the swim occurred within the same lane with the same five swimmers, in this case, four young ladies and me. You can see the lane assigned to my group in the upper left quadrant of the picture above.
Each swimmer was responsible for providing a person to count their laps. Filling this need for me, Joy ticked off one more volunteer performance.
My swim time was actually almost three minutes faster than I had estimated at registration. I am not sure how this happened but it was a pleasant surprise. On several occasions, I had to slow down because of congestion in the lane.
For the bike leg, we left the transition area outside the aquatic center and headed onto a city street. From the course map, the route looked more or less like a capital letter ‘T’ with the starting point near the bottom of the vertical section.
The course involved an out and back route with two turnarounds, one corresponding to each of the two ends of the top, horizontal section of the ‘T’.
What is missing from the simple description of the course as a flat letter ‘T’ are the four steep climbs (and descents) and rolling hills that made this short course a bit more challenging though still quite fast.
One of the unique memories of this race was the pronghorn deer in the field alongside the course. Separated from the road by a fence, there was little danger of the deer running onto the course. It’s just that you don’t see deer, nonetheless pronghorn deer, during every triathlon.
The 3.1 mile (5k) flat run course took us through a quiet neighborhood of Gillette. The course left from the eastern side of the Recreation Center parking lot, looped around streets south and eventually southwest of the Center, returning to the Center parking lot and finish line.
15 Minutes of Fame
Since I was the only participant over 60 years of age, I was able to claim a first place age group prize. When announcing my ‘win’, the race director also announced Joy’s and my mission to cover the USA participating in the sport of triathlon.
Following the awards ceremony, Grant Egger, a reporter for the Gillette News Record, informed us that he was writing a story about the Splash & Dash. Of course, we agreed to his request for an interview.
A few days later we received a copy of the newspaper article in our e-mail. You can read it below.
A Final Stop in Rapid City
We left Gillette at 12:15 pm Mountain Time for our first stop, Rapid City. Our mission was to pay Aunt Evelyn another visit, this time with an update on the triathlon.
Being an experienced triathlon spectator, she asked all the right questions. After getting her caught up, we said our farewells and headed toward Minnesota.
Three months later, Evelyn had passed away. We were blessed to have been allowed time with her during this trip.
- First race in which we biked past Pronghorn Deer
- First race in which I was the oldest participant
- First race in which Joy and I were interviewed by a local newspaper reporter after the race