Search for the New – Part 2

Now we get to the sweet spot for triathletes who have been at the sport for a while and are itching to be asked to master new skills, in some cases with new equipment, and in beautiful settings.

Events in Parts 2 and 3 are hard to definitively categorize into races for experienced veterans in Part 2, and those we will present in Part 3 for experts. All of these races might be fun for experts or for novices. If there is a rule of thumb, it might be self-seeding. Some shorter events might be for experts, some longer events could be tackled by talented and well prepared novices.

In the moderately challenging Part 2, we include a Fat Bike beach cross (harder than you think), a shorter SwimRun (much shorter than a typical Ötillö but over arguably inspiring terrain), a one day Gravel Triathlon (old school, minimalist trimmings, love the crunch of tires on gravel), a night duathlon (centered on a famous F1 track), and a very long, very tough duathlon. What links them? Camaraderie and, in most cases, breathtaking beauty.

Fat Bike Beach Bash
Provisional date: September 28.

Two years ago this event started with 24 entries, but many more attended last year. Fat Cross was started by Shawn Spencer at this site in Wrightsville, North Carolina.

As race director Andrew Silbereisen explains, “Fat Bikes and their ability to float over soft sand makes the bike portion totally unique to triathlon. Add a mixture of manmade obstacles and a prevailing sea breeze, it can sometimes feel like you are climbing a mountain on the beach if you ride into the wind. Having all elements on the beach in a compacted area allows for better spectator involvement as well as probably one of the safest triathlon venues available for the general population. The swim is usually crystal clear and the run is definitely challenging, with trying to find the balance between running off camber on the water line compared to running higher on the beach in the less compacted sand but a flatter surface. The distances may seem short but the effort is pretty intense.”

Fat Bike racing is much tougher than you’d think. The basics: Tires are wider than 4 inches. Fat bikes were invented for use in snow and sand, but are capable of traversing diverse terrain types including snow, sand, desert, bogs, mud, pavement, or traditional mountain biking trails.

Tire pressure is key for racing on sand. Tests have been done with multiple tire pressures and the best, most efficient pressure for a 26X4.6 tire is right about 8 psi, which allows riders to float over the thicker sugar sand while giving enough pressure to allow for speeds over 20mph along the hard packed and flat sections.

Wrightsville Beach NC
Entry limit: 150
Entry fee: $50 for the first 50 entrants, $65 thereafter.
Triathlon: S 500 m / FTB 8 mi. / R 2 mi.
Duathlon: R 2 mi. / FTB 8 mi. / R 2 mi.
Race director: Andrew Silbereisen

Orcas Island SwimRun – Short Course
September 22, 2019

Intrigued by the Ötillo (island to island) Scandinavian SwimRun team events (partners must complete the whole event in close proximity of one another) which bring competitors through pristine lakes and gorgeous, demanding wilderness? The Long Course version of the Orcas Island SwimRun - a jewel of the Northwest - definitely belongs in the tough events category. But for those looking to start their SwimRun careers, the Orcas Island SwimRun Short Course is half as long and - with 3 kilometers of swimming broken into 6 sections and 14 kilometers of trail running broken into 13 sections and offering 2,150 feet of vertical climbing - is just what the doctor ordered. Last year’s Short Course field took from 2 hours 40 minutes for the overall winners to 4 hours 20 minutes for the final finisher. Interesting note: The winning women's team just beat the winning solo male by 16 seconds.

Situated on Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juan Islands, the Short Course offers an array of trails through Moran State Park, panoramic views from atop Mt. Constitution and crystal clear mountain lakes serving as swim crossings, this course offers a rigorous but manageable test that will introduce each and every team to the challenge and delights of this sport. There are also limited numbers of solo slots.

Orcas Island, San Juan Islands, Washington
Race organization: Ödyssey SwimRun.

Ugly Dog Gravel Triathlon
September 7, 2019

This race is a delightful time travel back to the simple, basic roots of triathlon and features the recent trend of gravel bike contests. This was by some accounts the first gravel bike triathlon. Slowtwitch chief Dan Empfield traveled to Chelsea, Michigan to take part and described the experience thusly: “That translates to a delightful run-what-ya-brung motley collection of two-wheeled transportation. The 2018 swim was in Portage Lake in Chelsea, Michigan with 76 degrees water and 70 degrees air, good for either a wetsuit or no-wetsuit swim. It was a streamed start, thus no cage fighting for the first 200 yards. The Ugly Dog is gravel for about 22 miles and pavement for the last 7. It started to rain pretty hard after about 10 miles. Happily, entrants got off the gravel before the ground got saturated. The Ugly Dog is named for the micro distillery in Chelsea, Michigan that sponsors this race. The Ugly Dog Distillery makes gin and vodka, and hosted the post-race party.”

Site: Chelsea, Michigan
Waterloo Recreation Area
Organizer: Epic Races
RD: Eve Solomon
Long Course Tri
S .5 mile / B 29 mile Gravel / R 3 mile
2018 Entries: 180

Watkins Glen Fly-by-Night Duathlon
May 4, 2019

The Watkins Glen Fly-By-Night Duathlon begins at 6 PM dusk, concludes competition at 8 PM, and offers a 9 PM barbecue to celebrate the thrill of competing on a super smooth race track that has hosted history’s elite motorsports practitioners. In addition to the paved section on the race track that goes past the historic start-finish, the run offers some hilly off road sections and winds through dirt tracks in the infield with a total elevation change of 115 feet. The race is a multi-lap affair which includes run-bike-run-bike-run sections which total 5.1 miles of running and 20.4 miles of cycling.

Watkins Glen International Raceway
2790 County Route 16, Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Held at the Formula One race track
R 1.7 mi. / B 10.2 mi. / R 1.7 mi. / B 10.2 mi. / R 1.7 mi.
Cost: Individual $75; 2-person relay $105 before February 1; $115 Feb 1 through May 4.

American Zofingen Duathlon – Long Course
May 19, 2019

On the bucket list of many hardcore multisport addicts is the Survival of the Shawangunks which starts with a long paved bike segment, followed by a unique test of swim-run-swim-run-swim-run sections through the wilderness. Survival has a 35-year history, but American Zofingen is new and does not have a long waiting list - yet. And it’s a duathlon so non-swimmers need not shy away. What it lacks in SEAL team-style combo trekking on land and lake it makes up for in scale - rugged 5 and 15-mile trail runs sandwiching a demanding 84-mile bike leg on rolling hills – just a tad short of the distances of the classic Powerman Zofingen Duathlon in Switzerland.

This event also includes shorter tests – the G Chris Gleason Memorial Duathlon (total 73 miles) and a Short Course Duathlon (39 miles).

Stone Ridge, New York
Trail Run 5 miles / Road bike 84 miles / Trail Run 15 miles.
Race Website
Telephone: 845-866-2992