Cactus Man Triathlon by Michael Tucker
The best thing(s) about the race:
• I love this race. I love the local flavor of this race. It's in downtown Tempe, AZ which is a great place to visit and eat and has great nightlife. The race is small enough that it is friendly yet large enough that some really great athletes come to compete. Access to the race venue is easy. This was the first year this was an AZ State Championship race which added another level of excitement. I have done this race every year since its inception.
• It's a great race course, lake swim, and fairly flat bike course that can be challenging due to the number of turns but that adds more excitement to the race. The run is flat and fast. This is a good course to go for a PR. There are enough aid stations on the run course and it is spectator friendly throughout so you're never far from people cheering you on. This was the first year they did a deep water start. I really liked the deep water start. The water temperature is always in the low 70s.
• The finish, since this is a smaller race (less than 800 athletes) you're not rushed through the finish line. They allow you to wait for others at the finish line and take your own pictures. They will even allow you to stand and take selfies at the finish line as long as you're not photo-bombing someone's finisher picture.
What was less than ideal: The run course is not really well marked but the volunteers will help keep you on track. It does get hot for the slower athletes and sometimes they are lacking ice at the run aid stations. Transition is only open for 1 hour prior to the race start, 90 minutes would be better. If you are heading to the port-a-potty take your wetsuit with you so you don't get stuck in line.
What I didn't expect: I do this race every year. Every year there is something a little different about the course. You typically don't know what that will be until you attend the athletes meeting the day before. This year they changed and reversed the swim course.
Race organization: The race organizer Mountain Man Events gets better every year. Race check-in is smooth and fast, you can drop off your bike the day before. The volunteers are always knowledgeable about the racecourse and flow of transition. They have an athlete's meeting the day before, I recommend attending. They always have last-minute updates.
Fuel and aid stations: I am not impressed with the run aid stations they only have water and Gatorade, no gels. Snacks at the end are lacking. Only bananas, protein bars, and fruit roll-up types of snacks. They do provide plenty of water at the finish line.
Additional info: The port-a-potty lines get long. If you have to leave transition within 15 minutes of transition closing take your wetsuit and goggles with you. You may not get back in transition.
Overall grade: 4 stars