By: Bjorn Andersson
The Wildflower triathlon is a unique race with a very challenging course which requires specific preparation for each leg. I have been coming back to this race for ten years now and I still learn something new every time. Below are a few of the things I have picked up on in how to prepare for the race.
Starting the race is of course the swim which features pretty much the only flat terrain you will encounter throughout the day. The most critical part of it is the start which is narrow, with the first turn bouy quite close after take off which can make things crowded early on. For those looking to be at the front of their start wave, and stay out of trouble early, it’s important to be able to handle 200-300 yards of hard swimming to get in a good position before the first turn, and before settling in to a more comfortable pace. What I like to do to prepare for this is using a set in training where I swim 900-1500 continously alternating 200 steady and 100 hard. This helps you get used to the tempo changes which happens after the start and all the turns. It’s a good set to use as the racing season approaches and then every once in a while during the season if not racing frequently.
As for the bike ride it’s one of the most selective courses out there since it features both tough hills and long open rolling roads. Right out on the bike you will encounter beach hill, a tough one mile climb, and while I advocate everyone to be conseravtive in the beginning of the race it’s one of those climbs where you end up working quite hard no matter what you do. In order to get used to that feeling of working hard right out of the swim it is a good idea to do a few transitions from swimming to riding in training as you are getting closer to the race. Most of the rest of the major hills on the course are from a couple of minutes or so in duration up to around 5min or more. In other words you need to be ready for a few harder efforts intensity wise between the sustained periods of flatter riding. The best way to train for this is to be as specific as possible and either ride a lot in similar terrain or find a climb and do hill repeats of similar lenght. If you live in a flat area I recommend doing some intervals on the flats in a bigger gear to simulate the lower cadence and higher muscular strain of climbing. For example 4-8*5min with 2min rest between.
Similar to the bike the run course is also quite challenging. Not only does it feature some nasty climbs but it also incorporates quite a bit of trail running. I like to do trail running frequently in my normal training anyway but it becomes extra useful here to get a feel for running on soft trails and uneven surfaces. Being able to run well up the hills here is important but maybe even more so is the ability to handle the pounding of some of the steep downhill sections on the course. Training for this can be as simple as pushing the downhills a bit more in training and make sure to incorporate more hilly routes in your run program in good time before the race.