Review of the McDonald’s Flyingstart Triathlon @q8sportevents

The McDonald’s Flyingstart triathlon took place last Friday. For those that do not know, a triathlon is a succession of sporting events done in sequence to completion – Swim, Bike, Run. The event had teams as well as solo performers, competing in Sprint (750M swim, 20KM cycle, 5KM run) and Olympic distances (1,500M swim, 40KM cycle, 10KM run).

We arrived at Marina at 6AM and proceeded to stick all the stickers and tattoos where they need to go. Shortly after instructions were given, and once everyone knew where they should be, we all proceeded to the beach to watch the first leg of the triathlon commence.

Being short of a road bike I took my mountain bike to the race. We waited in the participants pen whilst our team mates rushed to hand over the tracker, strapped it to our ankles and were off. You could not mount your bike from the get-go, you had to run alongside the bike from the parking lot near Marina Hotel all the way to the parking lot near Starbucks, there you could hop on to your bike and go all the way down the Gulf road to Green island, and come back, the go again, and return for a supposed distance of 20KM for sprint and double that for Olympic.

As I was the bike-man for the team, my story will revolve around that, everything else is hearsay, hearsee and educated speculation.

cycling down the Gulf road was a pleasant affair; the organizer had asked those riding slow to stay on the right side of the road, and that is where I spent the majority of my time. I watched several athletes whisk past me on their road bikes, while I just focused on keeping a steady pace of 2mins40secs or less per KM (thank you Garmin Watch!)

Whenever possible, I would try to overtake from the left side, just to know the feeling, and in my head I formed various rivalries with other participants, just to push myself forward. The one that stands out was 466, another fellow mountain biker, who would eventually go on to pass me but not after I gave him a run for his money. Another mountain biker who’s number I cannot recall helped me out, as after a constant struggle for dominance I decided to ride behind him in his slipstream, and was successful in knocking down the time for that KM from 2mins40secs to 2mins21secs.

In the end, the atmosphere was generally nice.

Here is the list of faults I found with the event though:

  1. Under no circumstance is the organizer ever allowed to YELL at the participants. Granted, he was on a megaphone and trying to give people the Cliff notes regarding “how to Tri”, but you cannot take it upon yourself to lose your cool and yell at the participants, who paid to be there, and who’s ages ranged from those young enough to be your children to those old enough to be your grandparents. It happened twice.
  2. There was a lack of enforcement of policy in the transition area; for example, take the following road bike that was propped up against a pole as opposed to being hung on the bike rack like everyone else. I overheard the organizers state that this was a violation, but as the race commenced, the bike remained in its incorrect place:

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This is how bikes should have been kept in the transition area:

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3. Participants were expected to run beside their bikes (as stated above) however, the following obstruction was only cleared after the first two or so cyclists had to squeeze by it:

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4. The volunteers who were supposed to be helping out on race day, despite their good intentions, were not aware of the full list of rules – we had asked one near the bike mounting area where the transition from bike to run was, to which he replied, “I don’t really know”, later we found out that the pen that kept the cyclists was later refilled with the runners. Still, volunteers should know.

5. Despite the race being billed as 20KM cycling, the actual distance fell short, as tracked thru 2 separate GPS trackers – Garmin (watch) and SportsTracker (app – Android) as follows:

Capture

(this included the run from the transition area to the bike mount area).

6. The transition area was pure bedlam with people walking everywhere and runners trying to navigate around them.

7. The running part of the triathlon was by far the most poorly planned. Lets begin with the fact that it was in the most densely crowded area – the Marina walkway, all the way to the scientific center. Runners were recollecting how they had to dodge around people to finish their distance. A quick fix for this would have been to close off the road from Scientific center to Marina (the Gulf road was closed from Marina to Green island) and have the runners do laps there, where they would not be bothering those out for their early morning strolls.

8. The volunteers at the turn around areas were causing confusion for cyclists and runners. At the beginning of the race, the organizer stressed that each person is responsible to keep track of their distance themselves. What makes it confusing however is when you are going toward a turnaround area and see a volunteer pointing left and right. Left to go back and do another lap, right to go onto the transition area. I fell for this, as did several runners I saw when I was done with the cycling part.

9. Inadequate supply of bins at such a large event.

10. Joke of a takeaway from the race in the form of a t-shirt (good quality), a small (branded) bag and a water bottle. Here are some ideas for things you can include in the bag next time – vouchers from sponsors – anything to justify the exorbitant cost of the event – KD 35.

11. Very small area near the finish line, extremely crowded to be around sponsor booths and stand in line for t-shirts or tracker refunds.

The pro’s of the race:

1. Sweet, never-before-run finish line:

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right atop the fountain!

This event is growing in popularity and attracting participants from all over the region. As somebody who is now seriously considering getting into triathlete training, I hope the organizers take the points above into consideration, because if the next event is to be performed with the same caliber as this one, attendance might suffer.

August 2011 ( View complete archive page )

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