The Danskin Triathlon was held in Pleasant Prairie, WI, on Sunday, August 26. This was my wife’s first exposure to a triathlon and she had no regrets whatsoever. Her motto, “Finish with dignity” which she wrote on her hands to ensure she did. I made the trek from northern Illinois to be on hand to support and encourage her. As I participated and cheered her on as well as hundreds of others, here are my observations:
GREEN BANANAS…Unripe bananas – why is this so common at this type of event? I’ve rarely seen running or biking events where less than ripe bananas were used. Is it logistically too difficult to gauge so ripe bananas are provided the day of the event?
LACKING PORTA POTTIES…With over 5,000 spectators and no other facilities open on the grounds during the triathlon, you need more porta potties. Plus, they need to strategically place them throughout the grounds…as you had spectators canvassing almost half the lake, more porta potties spread out where spectators congregate would have made more sense to me.
SWIM WAVES TOO CLOSE TOGETHER…From what I heard from a few triathletes, the swimmers were too close together. In other words, each wave, 3 minutes apart may have been too close together. With a .5 mile swim, and having dozens of swimmers in each wave and having only a few minutes between waves may cause congestion. You get the really good swimmers who have to contend, in the water, with many average or mediocre swimmers. My wife, who swam competitive in high school, started in the wave 8 and came in 17 minutes later with many swimmers from wave 4 – which started 12 minutes prior. BTW, she’d done that distance there in less than 14 minutes individually. Anyway, she struggled with finding some room in the water to leverage her competitive advantage. Needless to say, that was her main challenge in the water – not the competition.
If you think about a good runner, they have a lot of real estate to “move around” other less competitive runners. Same thing with cyclists, you have plenty of roadway to cycle around slower peddlers. So athletes who are really good a cycling or running have that competitive advantage where it can be leveraged as much as possible. Not so true of a swimmer and very difficult to maximum your skill set with hundreds in the water at the same time. Perhaps a wider area in which to swim?
Another option might be to swim from Point A to Point B without any turnarounds and make B the transition area for the bike and run.
RECPLEX MISSED A GOOD MARKETING OPPORTUNITY…I had heard this summer a number of positive things about the RecPlex facility so I was anxious to take a brief tour but unfortunately, it was not open. Providing at least one wing open (including restrooms) would have given visitors and those new to the grounds and opportunity to see this reputable facility. An opportunity to build their brand.
TOO MUCH YELLOW IN THE WATER…One more thing about the water – there were swim angels in the water to help support any triathletes who ran into trouble during water phase of the triathlon. Interestingly, they were along the course in the water wearing yellow swim caps to be as visible as possible. Coincidentally, the buoys were also yellow which meant that some swimmers ran into potential issues trying to ascertain if a buoy was a swim angel and vice versa. Wearing goggles or having water splashed in your face could create more confusion about where to go and when to turn around. Both swim angels and buoys were serving a good purpose but yet may have caused some confusion in the water – especially among those swimmers who were adept at making good time in the water.
DO ALL APPLES HAVE TO BE DELICIOUS?…In terms of fruit after the event, why do they always include apples – of the delicious variety? I don’t ever remember a run, swim or triathlon where apples were provided that weren’t of the delicious variety. These apples are fine, but with so many varieties to choose from, why not deviate from the standard faire?
SEND OUT SAMPLE A FEW DAYS AFTER THE EVENT…Sample people about the chance of doing another, if you’re exhausted now, that might affect the survey results.
BATH HOUSE CLOSED DURING EVENT…This may be independent of the event but the restrooms, at the bath house, near the beach was closed at 9:30 am on such a busy day, the Pleasant Prairie park district could not open up the facilities early for this event?
JOB WELL DONE…NO TWEAKING NECESSARY
RACE RESULTS WERE POSTED BY THE TIME WE WERE HOME…Posted race results fast. You’re excited to see your rank and you’re actual time so for that to be available hours after the event had completed indicated the amount of organization behind this event.
TRANSITION AREA SUCCESS…Just standing around the transition area from swim to bike and then bike to run displayed how well organized this area was. You could tell this was done before. For over 1,500 participants, I was quite impressed with the ease the athletes were able to transition from one event to the next without too much congestion or disorganization.
HIGHWAY CLOSED…Closed Highway 165, smart thing to do and the cyclists appreciated it too.
GREAT VOLUNTEERS…Many helpful, friendly and supportive volunteers. An underappreciated bunch!
SHUTTLE BUS WORKED OUT WELL…Having a shuttle bus from Lakeside mall worked out well.
The shuttles arriving every 5 minutes, and plenty of them leaving to and from the Lakeside mall helped move many people between overflow parking and the RecPlex.
USING TECHNOLOGY…Ankle chip used for this event so all participants and fans could learn how much time each participant spent in the water, on the bike and during the run. Transition area times were also tracked. This gave those interested a “detailed outline” of one’s performance throughout the triathlon.
WOMEN ONLY…Having the event “women only” is a great idea. Mind you, women can be quite competitive but at the same time, they are much more supportive of one another. You saw that throughout the event. It was fun for them to push themselves but for the most part, they didn’t forget to cheer on others or be supportive of teams who were involved in various causes.