Appealing aspects of the Hueston Woods Triathlon:
1) Less than 1 hour away
2) Cold water ~65 degrees (great for those who want to wear a wetsuit)
3) Supposedly 4 foot deep open water swim in Acton Lake
4) No e. coli in the water (unlike Caesar Creek)
5) It was on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11
I think the Hueston Woods Triathlon lived up to the hype. It was probably a better beginner triathlon course for an open water swim than Caesar Creek. I remember waking up at like 5 am in order to get there in time to pick up my race packet. It was still dark at 6:30am when we got there and people in the transition area were wearing lights on their heads like miners in order to get ready.
Plus I knew another triathlete there so it was fun to see him and talk triathlon.
Swim 750m (0.47 mi)
No buoys were harmed during the making of this triathlon. The swim was advertised as being in 4 foot deep water for the entire course. This was only true for the first 10% of the course. Meghan overheard some other folks saying the water was higher this year. Fortunately this wasn't an issue for me as I didn't need to stop at all while swimming. The water was colder so I felt better in my wetsuit than Caesar Creek where I was too hot during the swim. So I didn't need to take a buoy break this time :) If success can be measured by swimming 750m slowly without stopping than this was a success. For those who didn't wear a wet suit they said 65 degrees was shockingly cold at first and they lost their breath when they dove in but warmed up as they went. For me I wouldn't have made it since I don't do well in cold water but even in 65 degree water my full wetsuit was hot so I would consider a shorter sleeved wetsuit to balance out a bit.
One fun thing about the swim is that when you look out at the course from shore it always looks longer than you think. So when I went to look at this course it looked RIDICULOUSLY long! When I got to shore people were literally freaking out over trying to figure out the swim. Turns out one of the buoys that marks the swim got loose and floated away making it look like an impossible swim. They fixed it just before the start.
Bike 20 km (~13 mi) - Time Trial deja-vu! Again! For the 3rd time.
I thought this was going to be a relatively flat course. Again. Caesar Creek was a bit hilly, but this course had a few steep climbs. You know it's steep when people are walking their bike up a hill during the triathlon. I was not one of them - which usually makes me feel good when I pass them - but it had a few tough spots.
Run 5 km (3.1 mi) -
The run was better than Caesar Creek because it was on paved roads instead of a gravel road over a dam. Other than that I wasn't crazy about the course because it just winded around the property which made it seem long and boring for only a 5K. I'd rather run an out an back course or a loop than wind around and around.
Apple Jack a Hit
This course may have set a record for most Apple Jacks Jersey compliments. At one point I ran by a guy who said "I'm sure you've heard this a bunch of times but that is a sweet Jersey."
In Summary - I would add Hueston woods to my race calendar again next year. I like the timing in the schedule better. It seems like triathlons peak in July/August when it is 95 degrees out - I'd prefer more in September.
I took 11 mins off my Sprint Tri time from Caesar Creek. And though my swim and run are still slow among triathletes my bike was good and dramatically higher in percentile finish than my swim, run or overall finish - which is good since I spent most of this year biking. I think this was a prelude to my Morgan's Tri bike record. It's funny that my absolute biking time was slower that Caesars but I had a much stronger bike finish compared to other triathletes versus where I placed in Caesars bike so I think the Hueston bike course was tougher.