This is the second 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 the long course swim and T1.

Swim Course Notes:

  • Start: Wave Start, 8:00 am. Pros begin first, followed by age groups in 5-min increments.
  • Distance: 1.2 miles
  • Loops: One Clockwise Rectangular Loop
  • Venue: Lake San Antonio generally clean, but has some algae.
  • Water Temperature: upper 60s – expect to use a wetsuit.
  • Swim Cut-off Times: Each athlete will have 1 hour and 10 minutes to complete the swim course. Any athlete taking longer than 1 hour and 10 minutes from their start time will receive a DNF. The course will officially close 1 hour and 10 minutes after the final wave starts.

 Unique Aspects:

  • There is always open swimming on the days before the race. You should definitely get in a swim or two to get a feel for the temperatures.
  • The start is on land (the boat dock), and the first 50 meters or so has a dock on both sides of the start.  It is very tight.  Expect A LOT of jostling for position, bumping and elbowing.  This lets up a bit after you reach the end of these docks and swimmers have more room to spread out.
  • The first buoy is about 200 meters out and you make a right turn. Since it’s not too far from the start, this creates another bottleneck of swimmers.  Expect more jostling for position and bumping.  It gets better after that point.
  • Near the final turn and in the last 400 meters, you swim close to a fueling station for boats. Usually you will smell gas while you are swimming in this area.
  • You also swim close to a pier in the final 400 meters – make sure you are sighting well so you avoid this!
  • On race morning, transportation (busses) is provided to get from the top of Lynch Hill to the transition area and swim start. It’s a bit safer than traveling down the steep hill while carrying all of your gear in a large backpack.  Inevitably someone will crash on race morning as they try to bike down Lynch with a heavy backpack on. It happens every year.
  • Because of the large number of participants and waves, there is a lot of waiting around prior to the race – try to stay off your feet as much as possible and bring extra calories to keep your fuel tank full

 Transition 1

  • There is an uphill run from the swim exit into transition.
  • IMPORTANT! Due to the size of the race field, transition area is quite large.  Make sure you familiarize yourself with the logistics and directions of the ins and outs of T1 and T2.  Determine exactly where you will be going as you enter transition and look for your transition spot and as you leave transition.  The directions you run through transition can also be a little confusing.  Check this out on Friday to be ready on race day.
  • The first 20 yards or so after the bike mount line is uphill so starting with your shoes on your feet (rather than on your pedals) is recommended. Make sure you’re in the right gear.

Next week: Part Three, Bike Course Preview

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.