Summing it up: The race is as advertised – clear lake swim, flat bike, and you DO go through the Miami Zoo twice. On my list to repeat!
Note regarding data
If you do not see the embedded maps for each race segment, here are the links to the Garmin Connect data:
November 13, 2016
Expo, Registration and transition area: Larry & Penny Thompson Park & Zoo Miami,12451 SW 184th Street, Miami, FL 33177 Pavilion 2
You don’t actually see the Zoo until you run through it on race day. The entryway into the transition and expo area is on the opposite end of the park. I was able to park very close for the Saturday packet pickup and bike dropoff. Day of the race, your arrival time is staggered and volunteers do a great job of pointing to your spot to park. You will likely be parking alongside the park roads. A bit of a hike but nothing undue.
Transition setup is on grass.
I don’t remember much about the portapotties, so they must have been adequate.
- Cotton race shirt with all the racers’ names listed on the back
- Coffee mug logo’d for USAT Long Course Championships, which I don’t have a picture of because it’s my new favorite mug so it’s at work.
- Race logo’d finisher trucker’s hat
- USAT logo’d string bag, choice of red or blue
- Mack Cyclery handled swag bag that was actually worth keeping
- Finisher medal that I suspect the Disney people have never seen.
It’s on the website, dude
61 degrees at start of swim.
68 degrees at the start of bike.
80 degrees at the start or run (12 noon).
Wetsuit legal (Low 70’s F?)
(The usual disclaimer if you look at the times in the associated data: I am a very slow swimmer.)
The swim was two laps, with a beach start. The swim venue is advertised as “crystal clear” and, to someone used to Missouri’s brown water, it was indeed that. I rather enjoyed watching the bottom as it was going by!
You exit the water and go over the timing mat before making a u-turn to go right back into the water. It is shallow and a bit weedy, so there were some mats put in place. I found it a little slick (translation: fell right on my butt).
The exit is straight out of the water with just a little incline. The run from the bike racks to Bike Out was flat.
I had a bit of a problem at the end of the swim. My zipper would not come loose. At all. The good news was, we had wetsuit strippers for this race. Bad news was, it wasn’t coming loose for them, either. I asked if they had anything to cut me out of the suit – remember, this was the Team USA qualifier for the following year’s ITU Long Distance Championships! Fortunately, someone did get me out of it, but I had a very long transition. Why am I telling you this (given my philosophy that these reviews are about the race, not about what I did). Afterwards I found the following products worked for me to reinvigorate the zipper:
- M Essentials Zip Care Liquid Zipper Cleaner and Lubricant
- M Essentials Zip Tech Semi-Solid Zipper Lubricant
Cost about $15 US for the pair, and no problems since.
The bike was also as advertised: flat (330 feet altitude gain over 53 miles). Fortunately we did not have a great deal of wind. The course is a double lollipop. The bulk of it is in farmland and, again as someone living in Missouri, it was neat to see crops growing that I wasn’t familiar with!
Aid stations were fine. There was an incident of tacks placed on the road. Unfortunately, it happens.
Anyone looking at the graph below will notice 25 minutes of not a whole lot going on. Flat tire shortly after leaving transition. First time I’ve had that happen during the race. Here’s what I did and learned, both positive and negative (read and learn):
- Pulled off the road at a crossing where there was a volunteer with a walkie talkie. Good!
- When someone with a walkie talkie asks you if you’d like them to cal the sag wagon to help with your tire, here is the list of acceptable answers: “Yes”. I said “No”. Bad!
- When they grew bored of watching me and my tire, they called the sag wagon. Pro tip: If you are as mechanically challenged as I am, take time during the season (and especially before a big race) to practice your flat fixing. I didn’t (bad!)
- This changed the complexion of my race. The race has two time limits (as in time-of-day) to make two bike cutoffs: start of second lollipop loop, and finish of the bike leg. I was aware of the time limits from reading the guide before, and made the mental note that they should be fine for me. Now: Mine was one of the last waves to start the swim, I’m a slow swimmer, and just had 25 minutes of flat. The time cutoffs now become a challenge – but you can’t just suddenly go nuts on the bike and make up that time; you’ve planned this so you are set up for the run. I had sufficient information dialed into my bike computer that I was able to execute the desired power profile, while beating the time cutoffs by about two minutes. This was good, and may warrant another post on what that consisted of.
Basically the undo of T1.
Well, for me, sort of run. I checked the temperature on the bike computer as I came off, around noon, and it read about 80 degrees. So by this point I’m about 30 minutes where eI should have been on a flat-less day. In my age group, as long as you finish, there’s a chance you might still get into the mix for qualification, which you won’t be if you don’t finish. So we’ll just say I used a pace that maximized my probability of finishing.
The data show a flat run of only 43 feet elevation gain, but that doesn’t seem right, it seemed like more. Where I do recall climbing is in the area on the west side of the lake, west of where you start the swim. That leg struck me as a bit more of a grind.
This is a good run. The terrain and scenery is varied in this park. And you do go through the zoo twice, you are running in the same place that visitors are walking to see the zoo and you get some impromptu cheering!
Stuff to do
You are in the Miami area although the race venue is about 20-30 minutes outside the metro Miami area. Be advised that a lot of the roads in the area are toll, but check to see if your car rental company includes a SunPass with your rental, in which case you’ll be paying the rental company for your fees and can use the SunPass lane.
Good sized expo, easy to find food and drink through the day.
USAT Championship races are always a pretty big deal. This was my first experience with MultiRace and they put on a good race. I enjoyed the experience and plan to come back.
This was my first experience with using the Rüster Armored HenHouse (I have the earlier V2 model). For the record, American did not charge me on the way down but did charge me on the way back. I did enjoy the questions from other passengers wondering what this funny old man could possibly be crying around in the bags.