Triathlon Across the USA: State #37-Ohio
Logan, Ohio, September 8, 2018 – Hocking Hills Sprint Triathlon, Lake Logan State Park/Lake Logan Beach
Logan, Ohio, about an hour drive southeast of Columbus, was the venue for the first of five sprint triathlons to be completed in the same number of states on successive weekends of September and the first weekend in October.
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 one, 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 in five successive weekends. Clearly, this was a lot more than we had planned. On the other hand, we could kill not only two but five of the proverbial birds during one extended trip.
The plan continued to come together. Finally, at the end of August, we made the commitment to the plan by registering for triathlons in Ohio, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and Kentucky.
Travel to Logan
With the first of the five triathlons scheduled for Saturday, September 8th, we left our home in Minnesota on Wednesday before the event at around 9 am. Our destination for this day was West Chicago, Illinois to stay with friends, Jim and Kris. We arrived at their home around 4 pm and settled in for a leisurely evening.
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 guitar music, a wonderful gift from our friends in honor of our upcoming wedding anniversary.
The next day, we visited and ‘hung out’ while it rained throughout the day. Friday morning, we left Jim’s & Kris’ at little before 6 am for the drive to our destination for Friday and Saturday nights, the Hocking Hill KOA campground. It was here that we were going to re-try tent camping. (We had given up camping years earlier because it always seemed to rain.)
We drove through rain compliments of tropical storm Gordon for more than half the trip between Chicago and Columbus, Ohio. We finally got ahead of the rain a little past Indianapolis, Indiana. However, we were quite certain that the rain was on our trail.
We reached the campground with the skies dry and a slight chance of rain in the forecast. We had plenty of time to set up the tent, that is before the rain eventually started later in the afternoon.
Even though race packet pickup was on race morning, we made an effort to visit Lake Logan Beach. However, the road to it was closed due to downed power lines. We decided to sample the local barbeque at Millstone BBQ and turned in early.
15th Annual Hocking Hills Sprint Triathlon
The Hocking Hills Sprint Triathlon was managed by teamCOLUMBUSevents. The main sponsor for the event was the Hocking County Tourism Association.
In addition to including men’s Age Group categories, this race was part of the USAT designed WIN (Women’s Initiative) Series. WIN is a series of events across the USA designed to increase participation by 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)
The skies on race morning were overcast with a ‘not-if-but-when’ threat of rain. On the other hand, the 67°F air temperature was a relief from high temperatures in the 90’s F in the days leading up to the race.
We reached Lake Logan a little before 7 am, in time for the opening of the transition area. After the transition area had been set up, we chatted with some of the other participants. Many were competing in their first triathlon.
Two future triathletes posed with the stuffed giraffe that was hitching a ride with us to Florida, a destination of our extended road trip.
Racing in the Rain
About 15 minutes before the start of the race, the skies opened. Without any wind, the rain fell straight down.
I immediately headed 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. For this race, I had left my bike shoes clipped into the pedals and both were hanging downward so did not collect the rainwater.
Since there was no lightning, the race started as planned. However, with the heavy rain and wet roads, the race became more about everyone’s safety than about setting speed records.
With the recent 90°F+ air temperatures, 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 shore. We swam around two super-sized beach ball-like blow-ups that were anchored to the bottom of Lake Logan.
All 72 racers started together. After the initial chaos associated with this number of swimmers all heading for the same small area, the group spread out leaving plenty of space between athletes.
The water was shallow near the beach as I was able to use several dolphin-dives to get into deeper water. Apparently, the water remained relatively shallow throughout the swim, as I would occasionally feel the scratch of a plant, probably milfoil, on my hands or arms.
The out-and-back bike course was among the hilliest that I have experienced in a triathlon. It seemed that we were either going up a hill or going down one. A few were gradual but most involved a gear shift. In fact, I certainly used the full range of gears for this relatively short course.
The final hill before the turnaround was one never before 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, the majority of athletes were walking their bikes.
The run was also on Lake Logan Road, the one used for the initial and ending portions of the bike course. The course consisted of a couple of small rolling hills.
Competitors 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.
After the Race
The rain was starting to let 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 end of our van.
While wrestling with the bike to get it into the back end of the van – remember, we were tent camping so have a lot of supplies – we met senior triathlete, Mike Nall and his wife from Cleveland.
Mike has an incredible story documented by the Cleveland Clinic. I am hoping to get together with Mike to share his story of triathlon on SeniorTriathletes.com.
Next Stop – Tennessee
The next morning we packed up the tent (in the rain), showered, and headed about 45 minutes closer to Columbus to worship with the congregation at Peace Free Lutheran Church in Canal Winchester.
From here, we started our trek toward Tennessee and the next race, the Dixie Triathlon in Huntingdon, Tennessee.
- First race in which I found it necessary to walk the bike up a portion of a hill.
- First race 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.