Review: 2012 Lake Saint Louis Triathlon (Sprint)

The 30th anniversary for this popular race.


Saturday, August 25, 2012, 7:30 AM (first wave of Olympic distance, followed by Sprint distance)


LSL Community Association Clubhouse, Lake St. Louis, MO

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Official: 0.25 mile open water swim / 12.3 mile bike / 2.5 mile run

Measured (my GPS): 0.28 mile open water swim / 12.04 mile bike / 2.45 mile run

Also run that day was an Olympic (1500 meter open water swim / 24 mile bike / 6.2 mile run, per website).

Put on by

Lake Saint Louis Association

Big Shark Bicycle Company (Disclaimer: Big Shark is a sponsor of the St. Louis Triathlon Club, of which I am a member).

Lifeguards by Backyard Lifeguards

Timing by UltraMax Sports


$98 individual, $224 team (Lake St. Louis residents: $78/$177)


Hammer Nutrition

Key Equipment & Supply Company


USAT Sanctioned



Awesome tech t-shirt, now my second favorite (favorite here).

Awesome t-shirt front…

… and even the sponsor side was awesome



Commemorative Lake St Louis Triathlon 30 Year water bottle.

It’s all on the event website, dude

Race Day Weather

Lake St. Louis Weather, Saturday October 25, 2012

Race day weather was quite pleasant with a relative break from the recent heat in the area; although the temperatures reached the mid ’80’s during the race, the humidity stayed relatively low.


This is definitely a race to show up early for. Parking is on the street, and the streets immediately adjacent to the transition area are closed. That having been said, there are plenty of streets and plenty of places to park, it’s just a matter of how far you want to push or ride (with helmet on, of course!) you bike.

About the Race

Lake Saint Louis is a community west in Saint Charles County, MO. The name of the event is a bit of a misnomer because the swim is not held in Lake Saint Louis proper, but rather in the smaller Lake Sainte Louise that adjoins it.

This was the 30th anniversary of the race; as a matter of fact, special awards were given to four individuals who have been in every one of the races. The race was run very smoothly,

There were 342 finishers in the Olympic event and 262 in the Sprint event. This race had more challenged athletes then I had seen in previous races, and in particular I would call your attention to the story of young Zachary Blakemore and Unlimited Play.

UltraMax Sports provided chip timing splits of all legs (swim, T1, bike, T2, run).

The Swim

The swim was performed as a wave start with approximately 50 athletes per wave, and three minutes between waves. The start was from waste deep in the water. The Sprint course (shown) was a simple out, turn left, and turn left back to shore. The swim exit was through an inflatable arch. Visibility was not an issue at any point on the Sprint course.

The Olympic course is not shown here. It started the same as the Sprint course, but headed out further and had longer legs of the same general shape. One of the challenges to the Olympic course was that it required passing between two buoys prior to the finish, and you are heading east before reaching those buoys, so I understand some swimmers needed to stop to get a good view of the buoys in the sun.

The swim was not wetsuit legal, as is usual for this race, although it was in the 78-84 degree region for those choosing to opt out of award eligibility, and some did so.

Transition 1

The transition area consisted of a fairly long stretch along the beach and past the clubhouse, up to the clubhouse parking lot which comprised the transition and finish area. The pathway consisted of a lot of that fancy aggregate (smooth stones embedded in cement), so it’s a bit rougher on tender feet, but you can also run along the adjacent grass for the bulk of it. The length is such that running is advantageous. One of the nice things about the run up from the beach is that you get a nice cheering section from spectators on the deck that runs along the front of the clubhouse.

Racks were assigned by ranges of bib numbers. Portapotties were located adjacent to the transition area,

Transition area at Lake St. Louis

Transition area at Lake St. Louis.

The Cycling

The exit out of the transition begins with a quick downhill, followed by a flat stretch and then a long uphill after about a mile, starting at the turn onto Freymuth Road (you would like to have a little speed turning onto that street if you can do so safely). Along the North Outer Road, you get some significant downhill and speed, with a hill or two thrown in. Climbing then begins again as you follow Civic Circle and cross south over Interstate 64.

The part of the ride south of Interstate 64 is generally rolling hills. After returning back over I-64, you are generally going downhill; you turn off before facing any of the uphill on North Outer Road and do not return over Freymuth Road. The entire route along Dauphine is almost completely flat. After the turn to the finish you do have a climb up to the dismount line.

Markings and volunteer/police were all excellent, no issues with following the course. You do want to be alert on the return back over I-64 heading north that this is the split between the Sprint and the Olympic courses. You may be moving fairly quickly at that point so you need to be alert.

(If you are looking at the charts and notice there is a two minute period of no motion, this is because I managed to crash. This had nothing to do with the course, just inattention on my part as I let my front wheel slip off the pavement.)

Transition 2

Bike-in is same as bike-out; the run-out is a little bit further from the course.

The Run

The run is unusual in its length (2.5 miles), and the short length is probably to compensate for the hilly nature of the course. The course begins at the same location as the bike, so there is a rapid downhill followed by an uphill. There was one water location that was passed twice, I believe at about 3/4 and 1-1/2 miles. The end finishes going uphill. Because it is a large race, there were quite a few spectators to cheer you on at the finish, as well as a very active DJ.

The run course was entirely on subdivision streets. The course was well marked and covered by volunteers.

Newbie Lessons Learned

  • This was my first swim that had a wave start, my only prior open water swim had a time trial start. Although I did not have my goggles kicked off, I could already see easily how this could happen, so in the future I think I’ll be putting my goggles strap under my swim cap, or at least try it.
  • II switched from using a SwimSafe emergency PFD to using a Swim-it while racing. Although I like the way the SwimSafe operates (pull the handle and it just inflates up under your arms; the Swim-it deploys a vest on a lanyard that you need to put on), it’s difficult to ascertain if the SwimSafe is still available. Also, although both are approved by USA-T for racing, the Swim-it is advertised as being approved for WTC races – in case I should ever care. It is also quite a bit less obvious, for the fashion conscious.Remember the adage of not doing anything different on race day? Although I had tested the Swim-it out before, I decided that it felt just a little tight on my thigh on race morning, so I loosened it. Did I take some practice strokes? Heck, no. So the horn goes off and I can feel this thing slipping down my leg as soon as I start swimming, leaving me with the options of (1) stopping and tightening it, (2) letting it possibly slip off and, not only loosing its functionality, but having to explain to my wife why I need a US$120 replacement, or (3) keep my legs squeezed together, which I need to do more of anyway. So I chose the latter, which resulted in the ungraceful image you see below. Moral: don’t do things differently on race day.
Emerging from water

Emerging from the water, almost trailing SwimIt from right leg…


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