Triathlon Across the USA: State #10 – New Hampshire

Rye, New Hampshire; September 23, 2012 – Wallis Sands Triathlon, Rye Beach at Wallis Sands State Beach.

I started this triathlon, the second in as many days, differently than previous ones. I had fresh scrapes on my right arm and right knee. My right shoulder was also injured. After this race, I would not swim for four months while my shoulder healed.

The injuries resulted from a bike crash a day earlier in the Newport 19.7 Triathlon in Newport, Rhode Island. On a positive note, I had a new front tire and tube, thanks to the previous ones being destroyed by a knife-like object I had apparently run over early in the bike leg of that race.

I was glad that my injuries weren’t so severe that they were going to stop me from competing,

Getting to the New Hampshire Triathlon

Joy and I left Newport, Rhode Island, late Saturday morning of the day before the Wallis Sands Triathlon. We drove the 140 miles north to the Trek Bicycle Store in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the triathlon’s main sponsor and location for packet pickup.

Since I was at the shop, I asked a technician to look at my Trek SpeedConcept bike for any damage from the crash. He showed me a large cut in the front tire. My only option was to have the tire replaced.

Following packet pickup, replacement of the front tire, and a lunch of fresh seafood, we drove the bike course checking out the road conditions. One thing that struck us was the number of cyclists, literally hundreds. To this day, I have never seen an area with so many cyclists sharing the road with cars and trucks.

Before heading to the hotel, we stopped at a local pharmacy to purchase a tube of liquid bandage. Joy applied it to the main cuts and scrapes once we had settled in our room.

3rd Annual Wallis Sands Triathlon

Just under 400 men and women competed in the third running of the Wallis Sands Triathlon sponsored by Trek Portsmouth.

Distances for the individual legs of this USAT-sanctioned sprint triathlon were:

  • Swim: 0.33 mile (530 m)
  • Bike: 14.5 mile (23.3 km)
  • Run: 3.1 mile (5 km)
sign for Rye Beach location of the New Hampshire triathlon
Rye Beach, site for the Wallis Sands Triathlon, is on US1-A


One of the distinguishing features of this race was the swim. The water was “freezing” cold, in the mid-60s °F, making the race definitely ‘wetsuit legal’. Despite this, there were still some hardy souls swimming in only triathlon shorts, without a shirt!

The waves of the surf on race morning were 7 to 8 feet (2.2 to 2.4 meter) high. Just so you don’t think I am a sissy, the race organizers announced that the waves on this day were the highest they had seen all summer.

During the warm-up swim, I learned that getting past the cresting waves was nearly impossible through a frontal attack. Thankfully, the race director gave those of us not experienced with swimming in such conditions some simple advice for getting past the waves and beyond the surf. “Swim under the waves”.

Following this advice made all the difference. Swimming under a wave before it crashed made it straightforward to get into open water where most of the swim occurred. Of course, coming back to shore was much easier, much like body surfing.

Swim start at Rye Beach New Hampshire
Swim start at Rye Beach. (Photo courtesy of TriME.)


The ‘flat and fast’ bike leg began and ended on US1-A, where we road between the Atlantic Ocean (on our right side) and houses as shown in the background of the above picture (on the left side).

Leaving Rye Beach, the course consisted of a two-mile ride north on US1-A before turning inland toward the town of Rye and its adjacent neighborhoods. At about mile 10, the course rejoined US1-A south of Rye Beach for the final four and a half miles back to the transition area.


The out-and-back run course also left Rye Beach north on US1-A, with a turnaround at Odiorne Point State Park. From here, it was back to the finish line at Rye Beach.

I made one short stop during the first mile to remove a small rock from my shoe. However, after this, I was able to finish the run with a respectable (for me) time and average speed.

One lesson that I took from this race is that I should wear socks during the run when the air temperature is cold (as it was in this case). My bike shoes are porous to allow air to flow through them. Under normal circumstances when the air temperature is higher, this is good. However, today, my feet were cold after the bike leg. While I normally run without socks (see How to Achieve Faster Transition Times) in sprint triathlons, doing so with cold feet is uncomfortable.


I am not sure what is ‘in the water’ in Rye, New Hampshire. This race will likely go down as one of the fastest in which I have taken part. Despite respectable times for me, times which led to top three finishes in my age group in several other races, I ended up 13th of 16 in my age group.

Race Firsts

  • First time completing sprint triathlons on consecutive days.
  • This race was the first with a swim in the surf of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • First race with bike and run portions on scenic US Highway 1-A.

Leave Your Questions and Comments Below

Have you raced in New Hampshire? Did an open water swim in the Atlantic Ocean? Tell us about your experience in the Comments below.

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