–By Kathy Braginton
In search of something new and adventurous, I headed to the center of the universe for the Ann Arbor Tri presented by Epic Races. This race says it is a triathlon that is as tough as you are and I found out what tough really was.
Centered around Halfmoon Lake in the Pinckney State Recreation Area, you’ll swim the open waters of Halfmoon lake, bike the rolling country roads of the surrounding rural area, then run the Poto Trail. The event featured 5 different races/distances (Sprint, Mini Sprint, Duathlon, Aquabike, and Sprint Relay), as well as, the Wolverine Collegiate Conference race.
The 800 meter swim was an out and back rectangle. The lake was fairly clean with only a few patchy weed sections. The female sprint wave was fairly large, so to avoid the masses, I chose the weeds at the start. It turned out to be a very thick section and they were even getting caught around my neck! Luckily, I was able to swim out of it fairly quick and get into clean water. The out and back was West to East, so the return trip was blinding. I was unable to see any buoys or any of the sighting objects on shore that I had made note of before the race. I had to just swim towards the sun and actually stop several times to try and get my bearings.
The female wave was the last wave for the sprint race and was followed by the mini sprint wave. The mini sprint was half the swim distance as the sprint, so we all converged around the same time into transition and onto the bike. This made for a very crowded bike leg for about the first 4 miles. The road was also open to traffic, so we got caught up behind cars that were waiting to pass a few times. The bike is described as rolling country roads. I would describe it as large rollers and lots of them. There were 2 in the last few miles that were out of the saddle worthy. As most races go, what was listed as a 14 mile bike, was actually 14.6 according to my Garmin.
I came into this race ill prepared for what was really in store on the run. I knew it was a 5 mile trail run, but really didn’t pay attention to the specific trail. I heard the word brutal used several times before the start of the race. Then, I realized where we were and that the trail run was the Potawatomi Mountain Biking Trail. The Poto website lists the trail as fast and flowy trail to steep, technical climbs, to brain-rattling descents. I’m actually glad I did not read that prior to the race. Not knowing what was in store around the next corner, made for more of the adventure. I found myself several times wishing I was on my Fatty winding my way through the trails. The run only had 2 half mile sections of paved road and both of those were uphill. I found myself hoping the run that was listed as 5 miles would actually be short. Unfortunately, that was not my luck and it turned out to be a painful 5.2! I came in 7th overall with a 1st age group finish after being caught by 3 women on the run. I’m still in awe at how fast they were able to move on those trails.
The post-race awards were listed as Grab-and-Go Awards. This seemed unusual to me and I’m still up in the air about it. Instead of waiting around to receive awards, you could simply report to the awards table to claim your prize. While this method claims to get you home sooner, it is based off unofficial results as they are being posted. The initial Female Masters winner that was listed turned out to be someone different and the actual winner had already left.
The race did offer a pretty cool finishers medal, super-soft Michigan race tee (Go Blue!), Free professional race photos, and FREE beer! What more could you ask for? It was definitely worth the adventure.