For an LA resident, the idea of being able to do a race that starts with a swim at Venice Beach, followed by a bike course that takes you down Venice Blvd & Olympic Blvd (closed to traffic) and finishes at LA Live is pretty appealing. A point to point race presents several logistical challenges requiring both the racers and race organizers to plan ahead.
Pre-Race: Email updates in the weeks leading up to the event kept us informed. There was the issue of a date change (from 10/13 to 9/29) which may or may not have been beyond the control of the race organizers. Given the circumstances, I felt Pacific Sports handled the date change effectively; they gave athletes who could no longer participate the option to get a refund. I know there was a lot of complaining about “how could they not secure the necessary approvals?” etc and I don’t know what the details; all I know is that they appear to have done the best they could given the need to change the date. The pre-race expo on the day before the race was well-organized and informative. I especially enjoyed the course talk led by someone from California Triathlon. There was a good vendor presence and the swag bag was pretty generous, given the high price we paid to register for the event. Volunteers and staffers answered questions and set fears at ease, particularly about leaving the T2 bags. The negatives: additional costs, including having to pay $10 to park at LA Live just to pick up your packet and spend less than an hour at the expo, having to pay $30 for a shuttle ticket (given the high registration fee, it would have been nice to have included the shuttle option; more on this post race); also, very little shade on the roof of the parking structure where this was held.
Course: Beautiful. Well-organized transition area, great swim at Venice (though some additional buoys would have helped; some racers with garmins complained they ended up swimming > 1 mile). Bike course was also great (can’t really blame the race organizers for potholes and rough patches) and I appreciated that it was a closed course. One driver managed to make it onto the bike course as I did my second loop but police quickly nabbed her. Run course: challenging (Grand Ave hill twice!) but plenty of aid stations. The finish area at LA Live was lively and felt like a party.
Post-Race: It took a very long time for T1 bags to come back from Venice and the process of retrieving your bag (volunteers shouting out numbers, athletes trying to get their attention) was chaotic. A volunteer suggested that I get my bike out of T2 before claiming my bag; this was a bad idea because having my bike prevented me from getting close enough to the crowd to get the attention of the volunteers so i could get my bag. The shuttles were not well-equipped to handle our bikes; we had to shove them into the seats in order to clear the aisle and make room for others. The ride itself seemed to take a long time and the driver initially stopped several blocks away from the Washington Blvd parking lot. I was exhausted, sweaty and just wanted to get back to my car so I could go home; it would have been faster & cheaper to just ride my bike back, but I was carrying too much stuff. It’s only been 4 days for since the race so I can’t complain too much about not having photos up, but the emails sent out keep suggesting they’re available (“click here for photos”); when you follow the link, it’s just a place to leave your email so you can be notified when they are ready.
According to a post-race email, the 2014 race is scheduled for 9/14/14. That’s the day after the Nautica Malibu Triathlon international distance, and the same day as the Nautica Malibu classic distance race. I look forward to both races, and I would do this one again despite the challenges; however, if forced to choose, I’ll do the race at Zuma that raises money for Children’s Hospital LA.