One of the aspects that sets Wildflower apart is its unique, "Woodstock" like atmosphere, Camping is at the center of this culture and serves as not only a fun alternative to the normal race accommodations, but as perhaps the best way to get the full Wildflower experience.
If you want to get in on the camping bandwagon, however, there are a few tips and tricks that will help you get the most out of the experience.
First: Keep in mind that the weather can vary wildly at Lake San Antonio, and nights in particular can get pretty chilly. If you're tent camping, this is especially important. Pack some warm clothing and a sleeping bag.
No conversation about triathlon legends would be complete without mention of the name Scott Tinley. He's one of the originals, won Kona twice, and continues to play a role in the sport today. He's also a 20-plus time Wilflower competitor and one of its biggest fans.
What sets Wilflower apart for Scott? So many things, he explains. "It's been around for 32 years," he says, "and there aren't many races that can say that. There's a reason for that.
"It's also got an amazing venue. But most of all, it's the Davis family's devotion to the event. They support the sport, the athletes, the governing bodies. They are a class act, do things right, and the athletes benefit for it."
If you're heading to Wildflower for the first time ever this year, Scott has some advice for making the most out of the experience. "Know that you'll want to bring everything because there isn't much in the way of stores nearby," he says. "But even if you forget something, there will probably be someone there who can loan it to you."
Because of Wildflower's rich triathlon history, we've been around to watch the sport grow, change and evolve over the years. And boy have they changed! We thought it would be fun to take a look at "then vs. now" in terms of triathlon clothing, gear and nutrition. Join us on a journey to "back in the day!"
Clothing then: A simple swimsuit will do, thank you very much. Guys in Speedos and not much else ruled the day. The same with the ladies who alternated between two-piece and one-piece getups. While functional for the swim and the run, this clothing choice wasn't as much fun on the bike!
Clothing today: Most triathletes have switched over to one- or two-piece tri suits that offer longer leg coverage, often a small cycling pad, and a zip front. These are functional for all three sports and also allow plenty of space for emblems and logos. You're also likely to see compression gear for legs and/or arms on many athletes, helping keep muscles fresher for the long haul.
There was a time, not so terribly long ago, when triathlons were a novelty and not all that many people really knew what they were. Back in that day, a smal event debuted and 86 triathletes toed the line in the midst of a bluegrass festival at Lake San Antonio, in California wine country. The year was 1983, and while organizers didn't know it then, they were launching what was to become one of the most successful triathlon franchises in history: The Wildflower Triathlon Festival.
By the mid-1980s, big-name pros were checking in to the Wildflower events. Legends like Paula Newby-Frazier, Pauld Huddle, Scot Tinley and Erin Baker all fought for the top spot at the half Ironman distance event. Amateurs got to test the challenging course alongside the pros and work to earn coveted Hawaii Ironman slots. Organizers also offered an Olympic distance event and eventually an off-road event, making the festival unique in its wide-spread appeal to a variety of endurance athletes. In 1994, Wildflower developed the designation of USAT Collegiate Championship, adding another layer of competition to the mix.
During the intervening years, the Alcatraz Challenge Triathlon has spawned any number of other Alcatraz triathlons and swims. And even the Challenge itself has evolved, dropping the bike segment and becoming the Aquathlon that it is today: a 1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz followed by an out/back run along the Presidio and across the Golden Gate Bridge..