I ended up riding long on Friday night because I had a schedule conflict on Sunday (Disney Princesses eat breakfast on a very tight schedule), but I went over on Saturday and checked out some of the course by car and on foot. Here’s what I’ve got…
The lake level is down…we’re in a drought here. I guess that’s the reason for the recent swim course change. I read on the site that it’s clear water, but it didn’t look especially clear to me. I didn’t get in, but I’d guess visibility of a few feet at the most. I’ve done a bunch of lake swim races in TN, so it’s about what I’d expect for a shallow lake swim. The beach for entry/exit looks pretty nice.
I didn’t see a single alligator if you’re someone who’s concerned about that. 🙂
Oh, and swim wave times are posted now.
My original plan was to go ride the course alone, but I’m glad I didn’t do that. I’d definitely recommend going with a group if you’re planning on getting a ride in before the race. It’s not the condition of the roads that is a problem, but the sections I saw were relatively narrow and in rural areas, so I’m not sure how safe I’d feel riding them alone. Admittedly, I’m a lot more cautious about when and where I’ll ride my bike than most people are.
The worst road conditions are on Masterpiece stretch, but I read that they are patching it before the race and repaving for next year. As long as the holes are patched and it’s clean, shouldn’t be a problem. Still, flat changing skills are never a bad thing to have.
There’s a really quick downhill and uphill right out of transition, which is something to be prepared for if you transition barefoot with with your shoes already in the pedals since that will probably be a higher traffic area. I’m a little torn between rushing to get my feet strapped in while in traffic to get up the hill quickly or waiting until I’m on a straight flat section with less traffic and dealing with it then. Right now, I’m thinking better safe than sorry, so I’ll probably just mash up the hill and wait until N. 30th street to deal with my feet where the course looks like it may open up a little.
The turn from Ledwidth onto 14th street at the beginning of the course is a little rough too…again, only really matters because it’s a higher traffic area and right in a turn. I’m not really expecting to get up to speed until after this section.
One concern I’ve had is winds. Here on the coast they are relentless, but the air in Haines City was pretty calm, at least on this day–small sample set.
I didn’t check out the whole run course either, but the section that is in the park is a really nice, wide path. It’s concrete, not asphalt. Not a lot of shade, and it was pretty hot already at ~11:00 am, as expected. If you are expecting a “Florida flat” course, this isn’t it. But, again, by East TN standards it is far from hilly.
It looks like the Library parking lot is the transition area, and it’s set up with wide and easy to find entry and exits naturally. It is a terraced lot, and I’m not sure if they’ll only use the top, bottom, or both. If you’re on the bottom terrace I’d think it’s a little disadvantage because there’s slightly more hill to deal with and a longer course to cover.
For folks with kids, this is a great location. There’s a very nice park with a couple of playgrounds, splash pad, etc. They’ve marketed it that way, but it lives up to advertising. My kids had a blast playing while I was checking things out. Parking may be a bit of an issue for your supporters unless they get there early. This was a very happening spot with the locals…parking lots were pretty full. Also, I’m not sure how they’ll handle access to the majority of the parking spots at the park itself since the course cuts off access to that. More than likely, athletes arriving for the race will take those spots pretty early. With three kids under 5, the Missus is going to have a helper come with her to transport them around because there may be some hiking involved for them.
Feel free to post any questions in the comments and I’ll answer them if I can!