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Review of Soma Triathlon by

Posted by: on October, 23 2013

The 2013 Soma Triathlon was my first 70.3/Half-Ironman event. I actually stumbled upon this race when a friend of mine was looking for a 70.3 event towards the end of the season, and most of the Southern California 70.3 events are earlier in the year (Oceanside 70.3 and Bayshore 70.4 are in March, and Vineman 70.3 is in July). So a group of us signed up for it. I liked the course because it was a smaller version of the course for Ironman Arizona, an event that I will hopefully get to do…someday.
Pre-Race: We drove out from Southern California early on Saturday and arrived just in time for the beginning of the pre-race expo. The expo was small, but big enough to where you could get anything that you would need for the next day’s event. I was able to pick up a Tri compression shirt at the venue at a really good discount. I was impressed with the swag bag. You get a Lifetime Tri Soma t-shirt, and a visor, as well as a draw string bag and some goodies. I was disappointed that there was not a race distance on my shirt or my visor, and eventually on my medal. It might be a petty gripe, but this was a big event for me (since it was my first), and also the Ironman events have the distance on their shirts, medal, and gear. Another disappointment was that there was no official Soma triathlon gear sold at the expo. Lifetime Tri was definitely missing out on a money making opportunity, at least from me. I wanted to buy at least a shirt, and a jacket or sweatshirt as a souvenir of my trip.
The Course – The Swim was in Tempe Town Lake, and the temperature on race day was 70 degrees. The water was hard to swim in because underwater you could not see very well. Plus, the start of the swim was right when the sun was rising. So the swimmers were swimming directly at the sun, and obviously, it was hard to see. Once the swimmers made the turn away from the sun, it was much easier to sight ahead, especially since you could see the Tempe Town Bridges in the distance and the finish of the swim was right near one of the bridges. When exiting the waters, there were volunteers to help you out of the water, and there were wetsuit strippers. The wetsuit strippers were a big help for me, and saved me at least a minute in my transition time.
The Bike – The bike course was 3 loop course through the streets of Tempe. The course was mostly flat, with a few hills and overpasses. There are a lot of turns, and U-Turns. Most of those U-Turns were navigatible, but some of those U-Turns were very sharp, almost like hairpin turns. The course was fast, and I was happy to experience that. My goal was finish the bike course in about 3 hours, average around 18 mph. Instead, I averaged close to 19.5 mph, which was great! The course support on the bike was top notch. There were 2 aid stations on every loop, so you got saw 6 aid stations through the bike course. I grabbed water from 3 aid stations, and the volunteers of the stations were the best, very enthusiastic, and cheering us on.
The Run – By the time I got to the run, it was around 10:30 am. The heat had not become a factor yet. But as I crossed every mile, it got hotter and hotter, until I discovered that the aid stations had ice. All the aid stations had water, gatorade, ice, gels, and cola. But the ice was a life saver. It helped me to stay cool throughout the run. Also, one of funky things that I appreciated was that the runners were running along an office building (around Mile 10-11), and then the grass sprinklers came on. That was another life saver. It was funny to watch the runners through the sprinklers, sort of like they were kids. It was actually kind of awesome to watch. Coming down the final stretch (after a little climb right after Mile 13), a crowd appeared, my name was announced, and I crossed the finish line. My first half-ironman was completed! I was greeted by course support with a ice cold towel, and my friends dumped ice on me to celebrate my first. It was the greatest accomplishment of my athletic career.
Post-race: After getting my medal, I walked through the finisher expo, and there was water, gatorade, and lots of snacks – oranges, bananas, watermelons, animal crackers, and goldfish crackers. We got hang out afterwards, and cheer on our fellow triathletes.
Overall: It was a great race, and a great event, so I give it an A. Although I have most of my 2014 races planned out, I will definitely come back to this race in the future.
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