Yesterday was my first triathlon, which was the 2009 HRMS Naperville Sprint Triathlon held in Naperville, IL. As a beginner triathlete, I had no idea what to expect, outside of what I had gleaned by researhing the library and the Internet. As is typical of all races, there were pros and cons with the experience.
Registration/Packet Pick Up/ Expo: Registration was on the Internet, so simple. Packet pickup was held at one of the local sponsors, the Naperville Running Company. The process wasn’t bad, but problems cropped up immediately. The goodie bag did not include a cycling bottle, which is not a big deal, but obviously did not deliver on what was promised. From what I could tell, the “expo” consisted of several racks of discounted triathlon clothing. Yawn. Very disappointing, especially to a gear-head like myself. There were no directions in the packet on what to do with the numbers included; I sent an email to the promoters, but never received a response. Only by looking through multiple websites was I able to guess at how the numbers were to be displayed (no fun for an anxious first-timer).
Pre-race: Getting marked was fine, I was early so the process went quickly. The bike racks seemed totally random and no guidance on how to hang the bike (each side of the rack was numbered). When I went to look at the swim course, I stumbled across the chip table, which I had forgotten about and wasn’t mentioned when entering. Hmmmmm.
Swim: Great location, WAY too small for this many triathletes (approximately 2000). The swim start was in waves of 4, so I didn’t enter the water until 8:00, an hour of wait time. Very disorganized. The swim itself was uneventful, my first open-water swim, many lifeguards and shallow in spots, so it was possible to walk around turn 2 and also into the finish.
Bike: Great course, several hills and sweeping turns to keep it interesting. Most of it was newly-paved, so a pleasure to ride on. I’m not a big fan of multiple loops, but both circuits went by quickly.
Run: Mostly streets, which was a shame as the course was so close to the river and the river walk was barely utilized. Several parks were en route, but the course stayed on the roads. Yesterday was a very hot day (one of the first this summer) and the route should have been reversed, as it was completely in the sun for miles 1.5 or so until 2.5. Reversing the route would have placed this sunny stretch at the beginning of the run, with shade occurring in the latter stages, more pleasant to finish.
Overall, this was a decent first race, with a good setting, with flawed organization. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginning triathletes or first-timers, as there were too many anxious moments during the process.