Race Report Contributor: Karen Burns (via RunK2J Race Report Form)
Event Name / Date / Location : Somersault Early Bird Triathlon / May 21, 2022 / Carlton University, Ottawa
Synopsis: Well-organized, relatively laid back event. A lot of first time triathletes do this event.
My Race Experience: This was my 5th triathlon and I am still trying to decide if I like this sport. It is so much more complicated than just running. For some reason, which eludes me now, at the end of 2019 I signed up for a 70.3 distance triathlon (The Barrelman in Niagara Falls) which was to have taken place in September 2020. Well, we all know what happened. Each time it got cancelled, first in 2020 and again in 2021 I battled with whether to take the refund and run or stay in and swim, bike & run. I have to say that, as time has passed, I have gotten less excited and more nervous about tackling the 70.3 in September. Motivated by fear, I signed up for a few triathlons this summer so I could better prepare, the first of which was the Somersault Early Bird Long Course Triathlon.
I have done the Early Bird Triathlon twice before: the Super Sprint distance (100m swim, 11km bike and 5 km run – this is a great newbie distance!) in 2016 and the Long Course (500m swim, 33km bike and 5 km run) in 2018. I like this event. It was the long course I signed up again for this year. It’s nice to swim in a relatively controlled environment (pool), especially so early in the year. Everyone lines up on deck according to their estimated finish time (important to have actually swam the distance before race day and have some idea of your finish time). They start swimmers about 10 seconds apart. Since each lane has bidirectional traffic it is hard to pass. I did a better job this year of seeding myself and swam the time I pretty much thought I would. In 2018 I had overestimated by swim time and ended up being a little frustrated. It really is hard to pass. You still have no control over how anyone else seeds themselves and at the back of the bus where I am a lot of people underestimate themselves and there can be some interesting traffic jams in the water. I had no real issues this year I am happy with my swim, which was faster than the last time I did this event.
There is only one transition zone (T1) in this event, which starts at a mat at the bottom of the outside stairs where you exit the pool. So your swim time includes a little bit of the pool deck (with stop at the table to grab your prescription glasses), a hallway and the (metal grate -ouch!) stairs. The transition zone includes what my Garmin suggested was about a 600m run from the bottom of the pool stairs to the mat where you exit the TZ with your bike. My time was about the same as previous. Have to work on that. I knew I wasn’t in the same bike shape that I have been in the past at this time of year but I was determined to push as much as I could. I realized part way through the 3rd loop that the course was short and it was. It should have been 33 km and ended up being 24.6 km. I can see from my past Garmin tracing of this event where the course was shortened but there has not been any explanation from Somersault as to what happened. I was disappointed because I wanted to compare my total time to that in 2018. No matter, my average speed on the bike was slower than previous. It is good that my 70.3 is not until September!
There is no T2. The bike time ends as you cross the mat heading off the bike back into the TZ. Everything after that mat is the run. I was slightly faster this year but not by much. So overall, I think I would have been slower than in 2018 if the bike course has been as long. My time was 1:44:00. Somehow I managed 1/5 in my age group F55-59 which surprised me.
Would you do this event again? Why? : I would definitely do this event again, even given the shortened bike course this year. It is low key, friendly, well organized, convenient and a nice intro to the season.
Would you recommend this event? Why? : Highly recommend, especially for first time or relatively new (which I consider myself) triathletes. I think for this group the pool swim is less intimidating than open water. No specialized equipment is needed. You don’t need a wet suit. You see people on mountain bikes doing this event.
Closing thoughts. Any hints for others planning to do this race? Where to stay? Things to bring? What to wear? : This year, shoes were mandatory in T1 due to construction of campus. However, I have worn them every other time I have done this as I do not like running bare feet for 600m on pavement. People leave a small towel and running shoes by the pool stairs. Some even put their shorts/top on here if they swam in a bathing suit as opposed to a tri suit. I leave my googles & swim cap here. I switch to my sunglasses here and put my bib belt on. (Upside down!) You can retrieve this stuff after the event.
Somersault Early Bird Triathlon Info Stats
Overall Venue Rating: : 3 – Good
Rate the course: 4 – Great
Rate the aid stations: 3 – Good
What was provided at the aid stations?: I only saw one aid station, this was on the run. I used my own food/drink on the bike. I took water once on the run, just to pour over my head. Not sure if there were electrolytes but I don’t think so. Longest bike distance should have been 33 km and longest run distance 5km. I think the one aid station is good for the relatively short distances of this event. Post event there was electrolytes, water, dill pickles, bananas, brownies and these amazing protein balls.
How was the weather? : Great! This happened to be the day of the famous derecho but there were no issues during the event. Was a little warm during the run, hence the water dumping on head, but nothing intolerable for 5k.
Judy and Harold Footnote: Great to get that practice Triathlon under your belt and love the pool swim as a Triathlon starter – and we’re eager to see how things unfold in Niagara this fall – you got this! First RunK2J triathlon in 2022! Also slipped in a photo of Zak below, doing prep tri for upcoming Tri in June……