Pacific Crest Sports Festival: Long Course Triathlon Recap

Pacific Crest Long Course Triathlon Start

Pacific Crest Long Course Triathlon Start

Pacific Crest is a sure way to make you feel like a true athlete. For one weekend they transform Sunriver Village into an athlete’s dream. The entire village is turned into an athlete’s pavilion, with the finish line at the center of it and tons of booths to peruse. Pacific Crest has one of the best expos around; I could spend hours browsing through the tents. Since there are so many events, it brings a lot of athletes and plenty of sports related vendors. Even if you just go to Sunriver to cheer on your favorite athlete, you’ll enjoy your time at the center of it all.

I love that  Sunriver is pretty much devoted to walking, running, biking and swimming events for the weekend. Most people are in Sunriver for the sports festival, either to cheer on a family member or loved one, or to participate in one of the events and it’s fun to have that instant connection with most people there. There were bike rides, runs in distances from a 5k to a Marathon, an Olympic Triathlon or Duathlon and a Long Course Triathlon or Duathlon. I opted for the Long Course Triathlon for reasons that elude me.

With a 1.2 mile swim in clear, but cold, Wickiup Reservoir, a 58 mile bike ride up and over Mt. Bachelor and a 13.1 mile run around Sunriver it’s easy to see why so many people come back every year. The Long Course Triathlon is a challenge, but no other race can compete with the views. The start for the triathlon was at 9AM, giving us time to set up transition areas, get marked (it’s every woman’s dream to have her age written in black marker on her leg) and wiggle into your wetsuit. Divided into waves based on age and sex, it wasn’t a big mess at the start and the waves kept the swim smooth. There were four buoys in the water for us to go around in the 64 degree reservoir. I’m not a fan of open water swimming, but Wickiup is super clean. I don’t like surprises in the water and I saw Jaws at an impressionable age, my imagination goes crazy when I’m in an open water setting. I survived and the only wildlife I saw during my swim was a cluster of bugs hovering over the surface. For a small section of the swim, every time I came up to breathe, I’d inhale a little extra protein. Gross, but it didn’t kill me. There are tons of spectators cheering you on as you exit the water, giving you a little adrenaline to hustle out of your wetsuit and leave the transition area behind.

Pacific_CrestI remembered the hills along the bike section, they’re impossible to forget, but I recalled about 30 miles of climbing with the final stretch a long downhill into Sunriver. I was correct, there is close to 30 miles of rollers or some type of climbing….. and some. Mile 31 came and we were still on a hill, mile 32, 33 and so on until closer to 38 or 39, where you finally get some significant downhill. At least the views are amazing with the mountain, lakes and fields along the ride. They also provide water and Heed along the bike course at miles 17, 31 and 38, along with porta potties. Every mile is marked and I couldn’t wait to see the next yellow sign. It’s amazing how slow the miles came as we were climbing and how fast they flew by along the downhill. A typical Long Course Triathlon includes 56 miles on the bike and the 56 mile sign is such a tease. You’re back in Sunriver at mile 56 and practically at the Three Rivers School and transition area- so close, but not quite there since we had to circle the business area and then head back in, for a total of 58 miles.

I love the run, you don’t have to worry about flat tires or anything else, it’s just you and the pavement and a bonus knowing you’re only 13.1 miles away from the finish line. It also helps that the course is beautiful, following the wide paths that circle Sunriver. I appreciate that every mile is marked and they had water stations at least every mile, if not more. Running by the Deschutes River, the golf course and stables, you get to see pretty much most of what Sunriver is known for during the run. We lucked out with perfect weather the last weekend in June, it was sunny but not too hot. You’re running in the altitude at Sunriver, but it’s really pretty flat and so peaceful. I wish I could run there every day. As you make your way through the last tunnel, the volunteer noted we had ‘literally’ 200 meters to the finish line. I wondered how many times that poor girl had to say that, although I appreciated knowing I was THAT close.

finish lieYou hear the cowbells, the music and cheering- all the stuff you get at other events, but this one is magnified. Maybe it’s just magnified for me, since 72.3 miles is a long way to go and that finish line is earned. There was a misting shower at the finish line that I’m sure I needed, but I could only think about food. Fortunately, the race organizers anticipated that we would be thinking about food and the finish area was packed with it: salads, cookies, hard-boiled eggs, Muscle Milk, Chia Pods, rolls and strawberry shortcake.

Pacific Crest is a perfect destination race, with all sorts of distances to choose from. It’s well organized and supported. From the start, you have people in the water making sure swimmers are safe, you have vehicles on the bike course checking in along the way and volunteers all along the run. Everyone pushing you on, encouraging you and making you feel like a full-fledged athlete. It’s easy to see why so many people return to Pacific Crest every year and why other people have it on their bucket list. Everyone needs to go, just once and see what it’s all about.

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