Posted by: Dennis Green | May 9, 2011

Quad Cities – A Great Place to Start

The 12th annual Quad Cities Triathlon, taking place this year on June 18th, is a great race for both the triathlon veteran and the beginning racer.

Located in scenic West Lake Park, a signature part of this race is the run, which incorporates park trails to add some soft surface to the normal asphalt.  The bike is an out-and-back course which features rolling hills through farmland.  Race director Eric Sarno says the bike can be a little windy. The swim is basically a triangle around West Lake.  Safety is paramount, with Jet Skis, kayaks, motorboats and even scuba divers all present to keep an eye on participants.

Eric switched to a time trial start a few years ago, so that swimmers can get into clear water at the start.  This also should be especially comforting to beginning racers who may be a little nervous about the swim.  They don’t have to worry about swimming in a huge crowd of people.

There are no age waves. Swimmers self-seed, according to their estimated completion time, like in a road race.  Swimmers start in pairs, at 3-second intervals until everyone is in the water.

But just because the race is beginner-friendly doesn’t mean there’s not a strong field.  The women’s race could be especially exciting in 2011.  Three past champs, Jessica Imm, Christina Maravela and Jen Foley are all signed up to compete.

Eric and all the organizers are pleased at how the race has grown over the years, in every age and experience category.  “When we started, there were only ten or twenty local triathletes,” recalls Eric. “Now, there are over 400. Watching our race grow with local athletes is the most rewarding thing for me.”

Another hallmark of the Quad Cities race is its emphasis on education.  The Thursday before the race, in addition to the traditional pasta dinner, there is a health expo, featuring a panel of doctors who will answer questions on just about any health topic.  The MDs also hang around after the formal presentation and have been known to answer a variety of questions one-on-one.

A stroke survivor, Eric is committed to raising awareness and funds for health causes, with stroke education at the forefront.  “Our entire staff is volunteers,” he says. “After we pay all the race expenses, any funds left over go to the Red Cross, and also to SPARC, a local stroke program run by Genesis Health System.”

The race reached its capacity of 700 this winter, and has been closed since mid-February. Eric reminds participants that they can cancel with a full refund up until May 18.  But you can’t sell or transfer your entry to anyone else. Registrations that come back are given to the next person on the waiting list.

As always, full race details, including the waiting list, at qctriathlon.com, which contains a forum with tips and also an opportunity to ask questions.  You can also join the QC Triathlon group on Facebook.

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