Triathlon Across the USA: State #37 – Ohio

Triathlon Across the USA: State #37 – Ohio

Logan, Ohio; September 8, 2018 – Hocking Hills Sprint Triathlon, Lake Logan State Park/Lake Logan Beach.

The location for our Ohio triathlon in the 50-state quest was Logan, Ohio. Situated in the Hocking Hills region about one hour’s drive southeast of Columbus, Logan is a popular destination for camping, hiking, and spelunking.

For Joy and me, Logan was also the venue for the first of five sprint triathlons I would complete in the same number of states on successive weekends of September and the first weekend in October.

It was in Logan that we once again tried tent-camping.

Planning the Ohio Triathlon

Joy and I had already decided that we wanted to travel to the southeast part of the USA to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. Why not complete triathlons in a couple more states along the way?

While checking out the schedule for fall triathlons in states in which I had not completed a triathlon, a pattern emerged. We found that in one trip to the southeast part of the USA, we could complete five triathlons in five different states on five successive weekends.   

Clearly, this was a lot more than we had planned. Yet, it meant we could ‘kill’ not only two but five of the proverbial birds during one extended trip.

The plan just kept coming together. Finally, at the end of August, I registered for triathlons in Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and Kentucky.

Making Our Way to the Ohio Triathlon

We left our home in Minnesota at around 9 am on the Wednesday before the Saturday, September 8th triathlon in Logan, Ohio. Our destination for the first day was West Chicago, Illinois, where we would stay with friends, Jim and Kris. Arriving at their home around 4 pm, we settled in for a leisurely evening.

An Unexpected Treat

While relaxing on the patio after dinner, Jim & Kris surprised us with a visit from classical guitarist, Jim Perona. Jim treated us to a variety of songs, a wonderful gift from our friends in recognition of our upcoming wedding anniversary.

Rain fell throughout the next day. We took advantage of the rain to relax around light conversation, even catching an afternoon nap. 

The next morning, we left Jim & Kris’s at little before 6 am for the drive to our destination for Friday and Saturday nights, the Hocking Hills KOA campground. It was at this clean, modern campground that we were going to retry tent camping. Secretly, I was hoping one of their cabins would have become available. However, this didn’t happen.

Dare I say that camping was not my idea? We had given up tent camping years earlier since it rained nearly every time we setup a tent.

Passing the Rain

For more than half the trip between Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, we drove through rain compliments of tropical storm Gordon. A little past Indianapolis, Indiana, we finally passed the rain. However, we were pretty sure the rain would stay on our trail.

The skies were dry when we reached the campground. The weather app on my phone showed there to be only a slight chance of rain in the forecast. And for a while, this held true. We had plenty of time to set up the tent before the rain caught up to us later in the afternoon.

Race packet pickup was on the morning of the race. Despite this, we visited Lake Logan Beach, hoping to preview the bike course. However, the road to the park was closed because of downed power lines. 

With this part of the plan shot and hoping for the road to be cleared overnight, we drove into Logan. Here, we enjoyed dinner, sampling the local barbeque at Millstone BBQ.

With an early morning ahead, we headed to bed for a night of being serenaded by a symphony of raindrops on our tent roof. Thankfully, the raindrops stayed off our heads – and bottoms.

15th Annual Hocking Hills Sprint Triathlon

The Hocking Hills Sprint Triathlon was managed by teamCOLUMBUSevents. The Hocking County Tourism Association was the main sponsor for the triathlon.

Besides men’s Age Group categories, this triathlon was part of the USAT designed WIN (Women’s Initiative) Series. At the time, WIN was a series of USA Triathlon sponsored events across the USA aimed at increasing participation of women in triathlon and other multisport activities.

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

  • Swim: 0.25 mile (400 m)
  • Bike: 12.4 miles (20 km)
  • Run: 3.1 miles (5 km)

Making New Friends Before the Triathlon

By morning, the rain had stopped. However, the skies remained overcast with a ‘not-if-but-when’ threat of rain. Despite this forecast, the 67°F air temperature was a relief from temperatures in the 90s °F in the days leading up to this race.

We reached Lake Logan a little before 7 am, in time for the opening of the transition area. After setting up my transition area, we chatted with some of the other participants, many who we learned were competing in their first triathlon.

Two future triathletes, daughters of one competitor, posed with the stuffed giraffe that was hitching a ride with us to Florida, one destination of this road trip.

two-young-girls-with-stuffed-giraffe-at-the-Ohio-triathlon
Ava (right) and Ella (left) with Giraffe at Lake Logan Beach.

Racing in the Rain

About 15 minutes before the start of the race, the skies opened. With no wind, the rain fell straight down.

I jogged over to the transition area and covered my running shoes and safety glasses with the green and white striped towel lying beside the front wheel of my bike. With my bike shoes clipped into the pedals and hanging downward, their insides remained dry.

There was no lightning, so the race started on schedule. However, with the heavy rain and wet roads, the race became more about everyone’s safety than about setting speed records.

Swim

With recent air temperatures in Logan over 90°F, the water was warm, probably more than 80°F. In fact, walking into the water felt like crawling into a lukewarm bath.

The swim course left Lake Logan Beach, heading straight out from the beach. We swam around two super-sized beach ball-like blow-ups that were anchored to the bottom of Lake Logan.

All seventy-two racers started together. After the initial chaos associated with this number of swimmers heading for the first buoy, the group spread out, leaving plenty of space between us.

The water was shallow near the beach. I used several dolphin-dives to get into deeper water before beginning a regular swim stroke. The water remained relatively shallow throughout the swim, as I would occasionally feel the scraping of a plant, probably milfoil, on my hands or arms.

Bike

The out-and-back bike course was among the hilliest that I have experienced in a triathlon. We seemed to either be going up a hill or going down one. A few were gradual, but most involved a gear shift. In fact, I used the full range of gears for this relatively short course.

The last hill before the turnaround was one I had never experienced in a sprint triathlon – long and steep enough for me to have to get off the bike and walk it about halfway up the hill. While I may have been the first racer to do so, by the time I went back down this hill, most athletes were walking their bikes.

After this race, I learned that my back brake was dragging on the rear wheel. After completing the five triathlons during this trip, I took the bike to my local bike shop for service of the brake. It was then I learned there was a crack in the carbon fiber bike frame. This crack was causing the back brake to drag.

I would get a brand new bike frame thanks to the Trek warranty.

scenes-from-Hocking-Hills-Ohio-triathlon
Scenes from the Hocking Hills Sprint Triathlon bike course. Clockwise from the upper right, water lilies at the north end of Lake Logan (upper right), nearing the top of the last hill before the turnaround (lower right), return past St. Johns Church (lower left), and farm buildings at the intersection of OH-180 and Pleasant Valley Road (upper left).

Run

The run was also on Lake Logan Road, the one used for the beginning and ending portions of the bike course. The course was flat, with only a couple of small rolling hills.

We ran out to the halfway point of the 5k and turned around. Dodging some of the returning bikes, we headed back to the finish line.

Finish-line-for-Hocking-Hills-sprint-triathlon-ohio
Finish line and transition area (right) for the Hocking Hills Sprint Triathlon. Lake Logan is in the background.

After the Ohio Triathlon

The rain was letting up by the end of the race. However, by now, everything was soaked. Joy kindly wiped the excess water off the bike before I put it into the back of our van.

While wrestling with the bike to get it into the back end of the van – remember, we were tent camping so had a lot of supplies – we met senior triathlete Mike Nall and his wife from Cleveland. Mike, a survivor of a rare heart disease, was now doing triathlons.

Next Stop–Tennessee

While the rain stopped for a while after the triathlon, it was far from over.

During heavy rain the next morning, we disassembled and packed our tent along with the other camping gear. After a shower, mostly to dry off, we headed about 45 minutes toward Columbus. Here we joined in Sunday worship with the congregation at Peace Free Lutheran Church in Canal Winchester, Ohio.

After church, we started our trek toward Tennessee and the next race, the Dixie Triathlon in Huntingdon, Tennessee. With almost everything we had brought now wet from the rain, our first night’s stop was at a Staybridge Suites where we dried our clothes and aired out the tent and other camping supplies.

Race Firsts

  • First race in which I found it necessary to walk the bike up a portion of a hill.
  • This was my first triathlon during which rain fell throughout the entire race.
  • First triathlon at which Joy and I camped in a tent near the venue the night before the race.

Have You Done a Triathlon in Heavy Rain?

What have you learned about racing in the rain? Have you camped at or near the race venue?

Share your comments and advice below.

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