After completing the Parris Island Sprint Triathlon, a classmate invited me to the First Annual Downtown Columbia Sprint Triathlon. I can’t say enough good things about the Set Up Events folks. Though this was the first Downtown tri, it was meticulously planned and well executed. The Columbia Police Department did an excellent job controlling traffic and marking the course. I’ll chalk that up to the frequency that the Capitol City has to deal with traffic disruptions. Well done to all the volunteers, organizers, and law enforcement.
Swim: After a hectic swim at Parris Island, I was relieved to be at the Blatt Center. The Parris Island swim was in a 25M pool; you went down and back in each lane. The Blatt Center features 50M lanes, so all traffic was one way. I can’t begin to tell you what a better setup this is. I’m a strong swimmer and find that I frequently have to pass other triathletes, so the wide lanes and one way traffic at Blatt made such a difference.
Bike: The transition area is to one side of the Blatt Center and requires a decent run to get out of the building and into the transition. As always, SetUp had plenty of volunteers and a well organized transition. The bike techs were awesome: a friend had his tire explode just before the race start and the tech had it replaced and re-racked the bike in less than 7 minutes. Excellent work. The bike course was a bit tough for me, since I’m not used to hills here in Beaufort. Slight hill in front of the Blatt Center and Main Street was a pretty serious hill. Once you got to Pendleton Street, it was mostly downhill. I hit about 35 miles an hour down Gervais Street, just before the Constan Carwash and the railroad bridge. Hardin Street was another good downhill, followed by a right turn and a flat ride back to the Blatt Center. By the third trip around, the Main Street hill was killing me, I think I averaged about 7 miles an hour up the hill the final time.
After the third trip around on the bike, I was happy to drop my bike and get my running shoes on. Of course, this excitement was quickly ended when faced with the hill outside the Blatt Center. The rest of the run was great, mostly on sidewalks and well marked. Traffic control was excellent.
If you’re looking for a nice sprint early in the season, Columbia Downtown is a great race. I registered a few days before the race and there were plenty of slots left. I’m not sure if the event was full by race day, but I’d recommend registering early to make sure, as this is going to be a popular race. The hills were a great change of pace for us lowcountry residents.
If you missed the Parris Island Sprint, or if you want to see some elevation changes, make sure you register for the 2010 Downtown Columbia Sprint Triathlon.