By Cicely Wallis
My family and I arrived in Gulf Shores mid-afternoon on Friday so the kids could enjoy the hotel pool, and I could check out the gulf conditions. The water was a warm 84 degrees and the surf wasn’t too bad, but a yellow flag was flying. After the pool we headed to The Hangout for packet pickup and my personal favorite part of ANY trip, dinner.
Once dinner was finished, we decided to “hangout” and the kids enjoyed sand piles and tunnels as well as a crazy foam party!!! They loved it. After all that fun, the kids and parents were tired, and I still had some race prep to do so we headed back to the hotel. Team Magic does offer early bike check in with overnight security to limit athlete wait time race morning--I didn’t take advantage of this, but it’s a great option for some athletes.
I allowed myself an extra 30 minutes to sleep in race morning since I was so close to the race transition area. The morning temps were chilly but welcome. I racked my bike, set up my area, and headed out to see the “Tri-It-On” race start. The time trial start began at 7am. Katie Bolton made her race debut this year on a relay team with Liz Valdez. Katie’s swim helped earn them first place overall in the sprint relay! And our youngest team member, Palmer Waechter, earned a 3rd overall podium spot in the sprint distance.
The intermediate race didn’t start until 7:30am. We had to swim a little further out than the sprint and do two laps to complete our distance. The water temp had dropped four degrees from yesterday afternoon but the waves were definitely bigger and the current stronger. This was the most challenging swim I have ever done in my life. Both Mindi and Missy are strong swimmers and they dominated the tough conditions!
The bike was a flat, two-loop, out-and-back course. Heading west felt amazing with the tailwind, but at the turn around the wind was brutal. The thought of getting to ride fast again at the second turn around kept me going. Even though more than 300 people were already on the course completing the sprint distance, the bike course was not crowded and there was minimal road traffic which is always a plus.
The run was another out-and-back course heading east. That’s right, more headwind. The first three miles were tough but the breeze and beautiful scenery made it bearable. There was water and gatorade at each mile which was appreciated because the sun was making its debut and it was getting hot. At the turnaround the tailwind carried me to the finish line.
The after party at The Hangout was AMAZING! It had some of the best post-race food I have ever eaten. No cold pizza here. There were beautifully arranged fruit and bread trays, gourmet pasta, grilled chicken, and homemade cookies. Team Magic kept the party going with fun contests to keep athletes and their families entertained as well as give out lots of prizes from the race sponsors until the awards ceremony began. All in all it was a challenging day, but it was also a fun venue in a beautiful city. I was glad I had the opportunity to represent the Women’s Gulf Coast Triathlon Team. Kudos to Team Magic for another superb race! Thank you to the race staff, volunteers, cheerleaders and all of our sponsors that support the multisport! See you next year.
Katie Bolton/Liz Valdez - 1st OA Sprint Relay (59:58)
Palmer Waechter - 3rd OA Sprint (1:05:01)
Missy Trinque - 1st OA Aquabike Intermediate (1:49:00)
Mindi Straw - 2nd Masters Intermediate (2:39:24)
Cicely Wallis - 2nd AG Intermediate (2:44:15)