Triathlon Across the USA: State #14 – New Jersey

Tuckerton, New Jersey; May 5, 2013–Bassman Sprint Triathlon

Swimming, biking and running in the Garden State (New Jersey) tested my recent triathlon training plan. This triathlon was also the motivation for visiting a part of the Atlantic coast we had not seen before.

Planning the New Jersey Triathlon

One goal for the 2013 season was to complete triathlons in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. With these under our belt, we would check off the northern portion of the Mid-Atlantic states in my quest to complete a triathlon in all fifty of the USA states.

This weekend, it was New Jersey. Joy and I would travel to Maryland and Pennsylvania about one month later for triathlons in these two states. This left Delaware, North Carolina, and Virginia, the remaining Mid-Atlantic states, for later.

Travel to New Jersey for a Triathlon

We left our house in Chicopee, Massachusetts early Saturday morning to make the roughly 250-mile trek to Bass River State Forest just west of Tuckerton, New Jersey.

Bass River State Forest, the location of the Bassman Triathlon, is about 100 miles south of New York City and about 30 miles north of Atlantic City, New Jersey, which sits directly on the Atlantic Coast.

On Saturday afternoon, we picked up the race packet at the Bass River State Forest.  While at the park, we took a brief walk to check out Lake Absegami where we would swim the next morning.  We then headed out on the 45-minute drive south to Atlantic City.

A Quick Visit to Atlantic City

While neither of us is a fan of casinos nor gambling, we were curious to see the draw that this city had on Pat and T, two of Joy’s friends from our Chicopee neighborhood.  Twice each year, these two ladies would drive to Atlantic City for gambling and an overnight stay in Pat’s timeshare.

Atlantic City boardwalk.
Atlantic City boardwalk.

We drove along the strip, which was lined with a mix of casinos – small and large, simple and opulent.  With the gusty winds and air temperature in the mid-50s °F, not to mention expensive parking, Joy and I took turns walking from a nearby hotel loading dock for a quick look at the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk.

We then headed a couple of miles further up the strip to Brigantine Beach where we stopped for lunch at the Pirates Den.

About six months earlier, Hurricane Sandy had passed through the area. While there was still some debris from Sandy, the beach was in good shape. I can certainly understand the attraction of these sandy beaches, especially in warmer weather.

After a short tour of Brigantine, we headed to our hotel, the Holiday Inn Manahawkin/Long Beach Island, for last-minute preparations for the triathlon and for an early dinner.  Remember my motto: “The early triathlete gets the best spots in transition.”

6th Annual Bassman Sprint Triathlon

It was a busy day for the people of City Tri who managed the race.

The Bassman event included three triathlon distances (half Ironman, Olympic, and sprint) as well as half Ironman and Olympic distances of a duathlon (run-bike-run) and aquabike (swim-bike).

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

  • Swim: 0.35 mile (620 yds or 560 m)
  • Bike: 12.5 miles (20.1 km)
  • Run: 3.1 miles (5 km)
Lake Absegami Day Use Area of the Bass River Forest, venue for the New Jersey triathlon
The Bassman Triathlon transition area and swim were in the Lake Absegami Day Use Area of the Bass River Forest.


The air temperature on race morning was still in the 50s °F. With the temperature of the Lake Absegami water reported to be around 65ºF, the race was ‘wetsuit-legal’.  In fact, the race director encouraged triathletes to wear a wetsuit during the swim.

I started out too fast in the swim, which led to a moment of panic as I became light-headed. The congestion I had been battling during the previous week probably didn’t help.

After slowing my stroke rate, which allowed my heart rate to drop a bit, I was able to resume the swim without any further difficulty.

Triathlon Tip: One reason I now take a short swim just before the start of a race is to get my heart rate up.  When the gun goes off, I can start swimming already partially warmed up.

The swim for the Bassman triathlon was in Lake Absegami.
The open water swim for the Bassman triathlon was in Lake Absegami.

A Slightly Different Approach to Timing

If you are not familiar with the transition part of a triathlon, you can feel free to skip this section.  Or, you can learn about triathlon transition in How to Achieve Faster Transition Times.

Anyway, back to the race.

It was a short run from the exit of Lake Absegami to the transition area.

For this race, there was only one timing mat for the transition area.  Normally, there are two timing mats, one at each end of the transition area.

The swim time officially ended upon crossing the timing mat and entering the transition area.  Bikes exited the opposite end of the transition area where there was no timing mat.  Upon completing the bike leg, athletes entered the transition area where they had previously entered after the swim.    Crossing the timing mat officially ended the bike leg and started the run leg.

As a result, the T1 (transition from swim to bike) and T2 (transition from bike to run) times were included in the bike and run times, respectively.


The bike portion of the race included a loop out of the park onto local roads.  The loop rejoined the original portion with about two miles back to the transition area.

Map of Bassman sprint triathlon bike course
The bike course for the Bassman Triathlon was a loop on roads outside Bass River State Forest

As suggested by the map, the view from the bike was mostly forest, with the occasional body of water. Picturesque. The course was relatively flat, with the maximum difference in elevation of just over 30 ft (9 m).

The most unique ‘scenery’ was near the end of the course. We passed two large turkey vultures cleaning up a deer carcass. The animal had probably been hit by a car and was now lying on the shoulder of the road. The vultures seemed unfazed by the many bikers who passed within a few feet of them.


The 3.1 mile (5 km) run in the Bass River Forest was on a combination of dirt, hiking trails, and park road.

In no way bragging, I sweat during typical races as much as anyone. With that wonderful word picture in mind, the fact that I did not break a sweat until the very end of the run tells you a lot about the temperature during the race.

In fact, my feet were almost numb during the run.  The good news is that the cool temperatures helped me to achieve the run pace that I had set for races this season.

After the New Jersey Triathlon

Much to my surprise, I was the first finisher age 60 and over (my age group was 60-64).

As a result of the finish, this was the first time that I qualified for the USA Triathlon National Championships.  Finishers in the top 10% of their age group automatically qualify for Nationals.

About New Jersey, the ‘Garden State’

When those of us from the Midwestern USA think of New Jersey, we most often picture the sprawling metropolitan areas like Newark from which you can see New York City across the Hudson River.

While driving back to Massachusetts from Bass River Forest, we were struck by the contrast between the massive green areas found throughout most of New Jersey and the asphalt and concrete covered areas of the more well known metropolitan areas.

New Jersey is called the ‘Garden State’ for good reason.  Get away from the major cities and you see the importance of fruit and vegetable farming.

Race Firsts

  • First race in which I finished first in my 60-64 age group and qualified for USAT Nationals
  • Vultures picking at a dead deer lying alongside the bike course was a first.
  • First race in which I did not break a sweat until the very end of the run.

Have You Done a Triathlon in New Jersey?

Tell us about your favorite or most memorable triathlon in the Garden State. Leave your Comments below.

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