Haleiwa Sprint Triathlon

Recently, I was fortunate enough to score a business trip to Hawaii, so I looked for a triathlon to do while I was out there. I came up with the Haleiwa Sprint Triathlon on March 2. Haleiwa is an old plantation town on Oahu’s North Shore and has managed to retain some remnants of rural Hawaii charm. The town has been hosting a sprint triathlon for 15 years.

Given the expense and hassle of shipping my bike I decided to rent one.A couple of weeks before the race I contacted Boca Hawaii, a bike shop in Honolulu, and they reserved for me a Fuji Aloha—a decent entry-level tri bike that went for $50/day. I picked it up the day before the race, and the shop owners were great about making adjustments to get a good fit. I then spent about an hour riding around since it handled very differently than my Cervelo.

The race start was 6:30am to avoid car traffic on the bike course. The race organizers are proud of hosting a laid-back event and joked about the course not being USAT sanctioned. Despite the casual atmosphere I saw no drafting whatsoever on the bike course or any other infractions. However, the swim was a bit brutal. The 500 m course was in semi-enclosed Waialua Bay next to Haleiwa Beach Park and began in the half-light of early dawn with a male/female mass start. Because the course is so short and we had to go around two buoys it was extremely chaotic. Despite my best efforts to avoid the fray I managed to get kicked in the ribs (I hereby propose that breast stroking in the middle of a pack be declared a DQ offense). nbsp;Fortunately, I was able to shake it off and finished the swim among the top ten.

The 12-mile bike course was three laps around and through the town. I was a little tentative at first because of the new bike, and was quickly passed by a couple dozen people. Gradually, I picked up speed and had an enjoyable ride overall---barreling along Haleiwa’s main street, which was lined with tourists, was cool. A large number of cops and race volunteers kept car traffic (and tourists) at bay.   
We were warned on the race website that the run is a challenge because much of it is along the beach. I tried to prepare myself during the last couple of weeks before the race by running in some freshly ploughed fields next to Russell (how very thoughtful of some farmer to prepare a practice course for me), but it wasn’t quite enough. The course followed a beautiful stretch of shoreline that intermittently became extremely sandy—not the nice firm sand you find along the water’s edge, but soft, sink-up-to-your-ankles sand. Since everyone was struggling, it was actually pretty fun after awhile.

The race was all over by 8:00am. I came in second in my age group and received an interesting little tile souvenir. And as with most Hawaii triathlons and biathlons, the race t-shirts were spiffy long-sleeve shirts that you would actually want to wear. So, could I have won my age group if I had my own bike? Yeah, maybe, but I’m perfectly happy with the outcome. After all, how often do you get to race in paradise?

Aloha, Don

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