This is the fourth and final part of a four-part preview to the Wildflower Long Course.

Wildflower has been an iconic event for decades.  It is definitely a “must-do” triathlon.  A few years ago, as a result of the drought, Race Director Terry Davis and Tri-California were forced to move the swim venue.  This change dramatically changed the event and eventually conditions worsened until they were forced to cancel the event entirely in 2017.  Thankfully, rain returned and Wildflower is back!! Lake levels are strong and allow the “old course” to be used again.  For those of you who have never done Wildflower, this is some good information to have before you head down to Lake San Antonio.  Veterans, I welcome your thoughts on additional tips!

Today, here’s a preview of T2 and the long course run.

Transition 2:

  • Same as T1 – very large. It will be more of a challenge to find your transition spot with no bike to look for.  Landmarks you identified pre-race will be important to look for.
  • Always do a walk through of transition – make sure you know where you need to go before the race starts and then as you approach transition, remind yourself of the plan.

 Run Course Notes:

  • Distance: 13.1 miles.
  • Terrain: Hilly. Park roads and trails.
  • One large loop with the exception of a one-mile out and back from miles 9-11. Very hilly and challenging.
  • Aid Stations: Roughly every mile.

Unique Aspects:

  • The first four miles include a lot of short up-and-down hills with a couple of flat spots.  This is the same route you followed on the beginning of the bike course, to the base of Beach Hill.  From there, you stay along the lake on the trails.
  • At mile three, you hit a very short (about 1/4 mile) but steep hill before you hit a long section of trail running.
  • At mile four, there is a mile-plus long hill on a dirt trail. It’s very challenging.
  • After this climb, there is a very steep descent on a trail which will really tax your quads and can be hard to control your speed.
  • Going through the campsites from mile 6-8 can be really motivating. Lots of people are here. It’s also the “flattest” section of the course.
  • At mile nine you have a long decent on one of the park roads. It is also known as “the Pit”.  At the bottom, you turn around and run back up the hill.  There is not a lot of shade and the black top of the road makes it pretty hot.
  • Miles 11-12 are slightly uphill and tougher than normal because of their point in the race.
  • The final mile is a long steep descent down Lynch Hill. This is hard on your quads and even though you are running down a hill, it is tough.
  • In general, on race day, the course will seem to be continuous hills.  Little hills seem longer and steeper than they were in training.
  • Overall, don’t expect a lot of shade on the run course.
  • The finish chute is long and more enjoyable than most.  Slow down and enjoy it!

All in all, Wildflower Long Course is one of the toughest half-ironman distance events out there.  While a lot of the top professionals race here, not many have broken 4 hours on this course.  So yeah, it’s hard for everyone.  Wildflower is an event that I strongly suggest you spend the time and effort to train on the actual course, if at all possible.  We typically spend a weekend to train on the course every spring, just to remind ourselves of the nuances (and difficulty) of the course.  It’s an epic event and if you haven’t raced there before, I urge you register this year and get after it!

Later this month, we’ll preview the Olympic distance course!

John Pottebaum is an Ironman Certified Coach, Four-time Ironman and triathlete for over 20 years.  He has been coaching triathletes out of Sacramento, California since 2000 and welcomes any questions you might have. Contact John directly here.
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