Let’s RACE! With smoke, from local fires, polluting the air around Sweet Home on the week leading up to the September 9th, Best In The West Triathlon Festival, the e-mail from race directors Staci and Blair was a huge relief. I signed up for the half iron, so I was still a bit nervous. This was my first half iron, and like many of the competitors that morning, I didn’t feel like I had enough time to train for seventy point three miles. Worries about being one of a few women crazy enough to enter or not being able to finish the run after a long, hilly ride, having my goggles or wetsuit malfunction, a flat tire, missing the cutoff time, coming in dead last… left me anxious. The day before the event my friends offered words of encouragement which quickly replaced my worries. The four words that stuck with me most were, “You can do it!” Until then, I wasn’t exactly sure I could. Naomi’s words of encouragement helped me realize we (all of us) are capable of much more than we know. My goal was to finish in under 7 hours, but I realized I should focus on “simply” finishing.
The morning of the race I left my home in Portland to travel to Sweet Home. I knew I was going the right direction when I saw several cars on the road with bicycles mounted to the back. So many cars with bikes! When I arrived, the volunteers were wonderful at herding athletes in the right direction. Packet pickup was quick and easy, and setup at transition went smoothly. I love assigned stations. I have a tendency to show up later than many, so it’s great to have a spot waiting when I arrive. One of the first things I noticed were all the athletes. There were so many, of all ages, competing in both the sprint and half that Saturday morning. In fact, 3 countries were represented (USA, Canada, Germany), 16 states (AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, D, HI, IA, ID, MN, MT, NH, NM, NV, OR, WA), ages spanned 4 to 75, 398 men, 445 women, average age 39, 80 clubs represented, 150+ first timers, and 5 have raced every year of the event.
The water temperature was perfect at about 72 degrees and the air was about 72 at the start of the race, as well. The swim, in Foster Lake, was beautiful! Staci, Blair and the Best in the West Team marked the swim well, so it was easy to stay on course. I found the swim to be the most relaxing and enjoyable part of the course. Transition from swim to bike went well. At the bike mount area, I heard volunteers talking about the hills on the course, which left me nervous. There were some challenging hills, but it was beautiful and I loved that it was an out and back. Knowing that we were half way and headed back was exhilarating! I’m not sure why, but I was expecting the run to be flat; wishful thinking. It was a bit hilly, but nothing too bad. The sun came out around noon and it started to get warm, but there were plenty of aid stations along the route with attentive volunteers offering water, ice, electrolytes, gels, cold towels and watermelon. I used them all, so I really appreciated that they were offered.September is an ideal time for a triathlon festival, especially one with a long course option, and Sweet Home is a beautiful location for such a fun event!
The Best in the West Triathlon Festival offers beautiful scenery, fair weather and cheerful, attentive volunteers. It was a fun, memorable experience and a great way to end the summer. The after party included great with music, delicious food and drinks. The finishers medals and awards were amazing! Best in the West events are always well-organized and fun. Race directors Staci, Blair and the entire team pour their hearts into every aspect of the event making each one unique and memorable. I can’t think of a better way to spend the day, whether racing as an athlete or volunteering, Best in the West is an amazing team and it’s so fun to participate in such a wonderful and well-organized event.
Giving Back to the Community
Part of the race fees went directly back into the community. This year donations were made to the CVHS Robotics team, the OSU Triathlon Club, STRIVE, the PDX Tri club, SHHS Softball, and Astoria Middle School Cross Country.