I did the Olympic distance.
It's a huge race, so you have to be willing to deal with the large number of participants. I think there were close to 2000, which is a big number. It caused some issues on the bike course which I'll discuss below. The transition is pre-assigned and numbered, so everyone has a fixed spot. Bikes had to be in the transition area the night before. No big deal other than worrying a little about security.
Very fortunately for me, I was in the second wave to start. So, I started swimming ahead of most of the competitors.
The swim was quite nice. Water was brisk but not cold. Best of all, it was flat as a pancake, so there were no tides or waves to deal with. It made for a great swim. No issues at all there.
The bike course is two laps around Mission Bay and Fiesta Island. Since I was in one of the early waves, I was out on the bike course early as well. The result was on lap one it was wide open. I was virtually by myself out there. But when you return to the start to begin your second lap, you're now mixed in to share the course with all the people just starting lap one. The result is a very crowded road. Add in some very complex corners (a bunch of tight 180 degree turns) and "no passing" zones and you have one of the more dangerous bike courses I've ever been on. Anyone in a later wave will have a packed bike course for both of their laps. I saw two separate riders down due to some type of collisions on the course. I came within 12 inches of getting tangled up with other riders at least twice. Maybe some people like this type of riding, but it's not for me and I probably won't do the race again for that reason alone. There were also a few really nasty potholes and bridge joints that really whacked my carbon wheels. On my second lap the two bikes in front of me both lost water bottles on the overpass when we all hit the metal ridge from the bridge joint that seemed like it was at least an inch high over the roadway.
The run course is two laps and has the same issue as noted above on the bike course. However, the path was wide and passing multiple competitors while running is not nearly as dicey as doing it on the bike. It's pancake flat so it makes for an enjoyable run around Mission Bay. There were three spots where they offered water, gatorade and gels which was nice.
I really enjoyed the course and the race. There were plenty of volunteers and all the people were great. Nice t-shirts and gear bags were given out and the expo is decent. The post race food and drink was very basic and in my opinion a little weak compared to other events I've done. Overall, I'm glad I did the race. But that bike course...be prepared if you sign up next year.
If you can do it, make sure to watch the Elite ITU race. I was able to watch the Women's race and it was fantastic. Fabulous athletes and terrific to watch in the spectator area with the big screen TV and the commentators. Edited by lutzman 2013-04-22 7:56 PM