This is the second year that we've raced the Ozark Valley Triathlon out at Lake Wedington (west of Fayetteville, I believe), and I love this race. There is a 1000-meter (non-wetsuit) swim, a 19-mile bike on a fun, rolly course, and a 4-mile run that is done in two loops (to ensure you have to clamber up a pretty decent hill twice). The venue is absolutely beautiful - lots of trees and interesting topography. This year, as we did last year, we spent the night with J's folks in Bentonville and then drove down the morning of the race, in plenty of time (we thought). Yet, again, as we have noted in other races, people in this region are always unbelievably early to races! So, even though we were easily an hour early, everyone else seemed to have been there 2 hours early! I like to be early, so it felt like we were actually late, which is not totally ideal! We ended up with decent spots on the transition racks because the organizers had to pull out more. The one other "glitch" for the race was that there was a huge swath of gravel where the park was doing some repaving or something right at the entrance to the park, which meant for us that we would finish the main part of the bike course, dismount and run the bike on carpet over the gravel area at the park entrance, get back on the bike to the actual transition area, and then finally get off the bike to go into T2. It helps to keep your shoes on your bike for these things!
The race went just fine. I started in wave 3 (all the women), and there was plenty of room. I took it out at a moderate pace, and right away I saw two other women who were strong swimmers swim with me, and then move on ahead. We had to weave our way through the slower swimmers in the previous two waves. I exited the swim as the third woman out, but apparently passed a woman in transition. I saw Dave on the side of the road, as I was starting out on the bike, and he told me the woman ahead of me was only about 75 yards ahead. I saw her pretty quickly and recognized her (I saw her at this race last year, and at the Tulsa triathlon last year) - she's a very good swimmer. I passed her and then settled into the bike, trying to focus on keeping a heart rate in the 160-165 range. Originally, I was shooting for 165, but it was a little tough to keep it up there, perhaps because of the rolly course (downhills reduce the HR significantly!). It was fun pretending that I was slingshotting myself around the bikers I was passing who had started in previous waves (I am easily entertained)! I came into T2, had a good transition, and took off on the run. The run was easier (strike that..."less hard" is better) than I remembered from last year because there were some flat and easy downhill sections that helped move you along. The big hill was slow, but it was fun running down it! I finished, and the announcer mentioned that I had won the female overall last year, and then apparently he looked at the results and announced that I had improved my time by ~5 minutes. I was pretty pleased with that! It's so fun to improve! Justin had a really good race, too...finally a decent run for him where he wasn't breathing out of his ears (his description!). There were some other Tri-OKC'ers that came, and I think everyone placed in their age-groups (Buzz, Coop, Dez, Jerianne, Jane). We saw Chris H. and chatted with him for a while. We enjoyed the awards ceremony and definitely had fun at Lewis and Clark Outfitters using the gift certificates! The race organizers had gift certificates for overall male and females, as well as for the fastest swim/bike/run time for male and female (I won the bike and, to my surprise, the run). The plaques that they gave out were really pretty nice, too - the two we brought home look nice on our little shelves in the bike room! Anyhow, it's a good race, and if you're considering doing it, you should!Ozark Valley Triathlon 2006 Results