Which Triathlon Has Been Your Favorite?

You have probably been asked about your favorite triathlon, especially if you have completed even a few of them.

First, a little background. I did my first triathlon on my doctor’s advice to lose weight and become more fit. However, as I have done more triathlons, spending time with family and friends through these and experiencing the USA from the perspective of triathlon have grown in importance.

Nevertheless, after my first triathlon, there have been a few races that have been particularly memorable. Following are my top five.

Favorite Triathlons for Family Connections

#1 First Triathlon with Our Daughter and Youngest Son

Our youngest son, Ben, and his wife Lindsey along with our daughter, Liza, and her husband Scott joined me in completing the 2014 Maple Grove Triathlon.

picture of family members who competed with me in the 2014 Maple Grove Triathlon
Completing a triathlon with family members makes for a memorable day!

#2 Colorado Triathlon

The Colorado triathlon was fraught with challenges. Nevertheless, it was the one opportunity I had to participate in a triathlon in front of my parents.

Terry with parents at IHOP
Enjoying ice cream and memories with my parents. Photo courtesy of Joy.

#3 Wyoming Triathlon

The Wyoming triathlon was memorable for two reasons. First, it was the last time we would see Joy’s aunt Evelyn. She passed away shortly thereafter.

It also provided my ’15 minutes of fame’ as a local newspaper writer interviewed me and published a story about our Triathlon Across the USA quest (see below).

Gillette News Record article about the Razor City Splash & Dash Triathlon

Most Memorable Races

#4 First Crash

During the Rhode Island triathlon, a slow leak in my front tire led to a crash that left my right arm and leg bleeding. Thankfully, a bike maintenance aid arrived shortly after I had started to replace the tube. He completed the repair and I finished the race.

#5 First Podium Finish

In my first triathlon, I learned about the importance of having the right bike to race competitively. Before my second triathlon two months later, I purchased a triathlon specific bike.

Thanks to a competitive bike split in this race, I finished third in my age group in this second triathlon.

Ranking to Find Your Favorite Triathlon

Early in my discussions with Laurent Labbe, I asked about his favorite races. Being a technical guy, he answered with a spreadsheet for rating the long course triathlons he had completed.

The table below illustrates Laurent’s approach for ranking triathlons.

spreadsheet showing Laurent Labbe's approach to ranking triathlons he has completed.
Laurent Labbe’s approach to evaluating and ranking triathlons.

Laurent’s approach is quite detailed. His quantifies the quality, difficulty, and aesthetics of the course for each of the three legs. He also rates the overall management and race location.

Ranking Factors

  • Management (‘Mgmt’) – The following factors all lead to higher rankings in the various Management categories:
    • easy check-in and packet pickup
    • orderly swim start
    • clear marking of the bike and run courses
    • bike and run courses that are completely closed to traffic; even partly closed courses are better than those on which motor vehicles are near racers.
    • plenty of volunteer support
    • high quality food and drink on the course and after the race
    • prompt communication with racers before, during, and after the triathlon
  • Ease – This ranking relates to the race course. A low score in this category comes from high waves on the swim course and high wind or steep hills on the bike and run courses.
  • Layout – A single lap course is much preferred to one with two or more laps. The greater the number of laps in each of the legs, the lower the ranking in this category.
  • Overall Location – This relates to the cost and ease of getting to and from the race, the ease of arranging lodging, and the quality and diversity of food.
  • Ambiance – This scores factors such as the natural beauty of the race venue and friendliness of the people.
  • Overall Ranking – This number is derived from the product of the other rankings.

Knowing that family is important to Laurent, I imagine that any race involving his sons or daughter will have higher rankings.

Laurent Labbe and his oldest son on the beach in front of the swim course at the Strongman All Japan Triathlon.
Laurent Labbe and his oldest son on the beach in front of the swim course at the Strongman All Japan Triathlon. Picture courtesy of Laurent Labbe.

What Has Been Your Favorite Triathlon?

Tell us about your favorite races leaving a comment below. If for any reason you have difficulty leaving a comment, please email us at seniortriathletes@gmail.com.

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My most memorable Triathlon was probably an Ironman race in Maryland that I did in September. I had originally register to do it in 2018 however due to a running injury I had to defer to 2019. It was a rough time trying to get my hamstrings healed so I could run and I was very discouraged. My training suffered and left a lot to be desired but with the help of a cortisone injection in July I was able to run (although very slowly) and made it to the finish line. It was a struggle to say the least and I have no idea how I was able to will my way to the finish but it proves that with determination and will we can do anything.
It was also memorable because two of my best training buddies were also competing in it and it made it really special.
We had an additional challenge during our 2.4 mile swim in the Choptank River which was hundreds of jelly fish. After being stung multiple times during my practice swim I wasn’t sure I’d be able to even get into the water but I had trained long and hard during a very hot summer and was not going to let a few jellyfish ruin my race! So I just kept swimming!

Thank you for the comment. Congratulations on completing another Ironman triathlon and for encouraging those who aspire to complete an triathlon of any distance.

My most memorable race has to be the first one which was a mid-May sprint in North Dakota. Which I now know means water temperature in the mid 50’s. As the race was getting ready to start and I looked at all the other competitors in wet suits I thought ‘This could be bad’. The gun went off and I ran with everyone else into the lake. I am not sure if it was the adrenaline or fear but cold water did not seem that bad. T-1,Trying to put a T-Shirt on a wet body in a hurry was extremely difficult but very amusing to the spectators (caught a glimpse of them giggling as I struggled to get the correct body part through the correct hole in the shirt). Once dressed I hoped on my bike, A crossover with mountain handle bars and 1.8″ tires. Very different than the racks of TT and road bikes. There was a strong side wind which worked in my favor. I passed several “cool” bikes and had a pretty good ride. T-2 went quick as I already had my running shoes on (no clips on my bike). I had been training for a 13.1 so the run was great. I remember laying on the grass after the race thinking ‘I Love this’. (Since this race I have spent a small fortune on bikes, helmets, rims, shoes, clips, wet suits, tri clothing, watches and anything else that looks cool). My favorite race is not a race at all. It’s the people you meet, train with and travel with. The people are the best part of Triathlon!!

Thanks for your comments about your most memorable and favorite race. You reminded me of my first triathlon. I remember pedaling my legs as fast as they would go only to have the tri-bikes pass me as if I were standing still. I rode most of the course chatting with a 14-year old girl. Your comment about the people is spot-on. The support and encouragement is wonderful.
Have a great year!