Nitty Gritty Details
1 Reviews for Derby Rec Center Indoor Triathlon
The Derby Rec Center is a local health club for Derby, KS, which is a suburb of Wichita. They offer a variety of programming throughout the year, including this gem of a race that they advertise as the first "A" race of the season. While I wouldn't go so far as to call this an "A" priority race, I do think that it's one of the best-organized indoor races in the area, with a great draw for both competitive triathletes in the Wichita metro and complete newbies who find this race an easy starting point.
The race is held entirely within Derby Rec Center. The indoor pool is 25 m, six lanes wide, and goes from about 3.5 ft to 9 ft in depth. A dozen folding chairs set up in the gymnasium serve as the transition area. There are Lemond Revmaster cycles set up in the gym for the 6 mile bike portion. And the run is executed on the upstairs track (10 laps to a mile).
The race is set up in a series of waves, each with 12 participants. Wave order is determined by estimated 500 m swim time. The fastest swimmers start at 7:00 a.m., and waves run every half hour until 11:00 a.m. Each participant has his or her own personal time keeper, who follows the athlete through each portion of the race and keeps track of swim/run laps as well as time.
During the swim, athletes split a lane (unless someone doesn't show up, in which case you may be fortunate enough to get a lane to yourself). For experienced, faster swimmers, this won't be an issue. But for the athletes leaving in slower waves, I imagine you might run into difficulty of having a lane mate who can't stay inside the lines. Alternatively, if you're sharing a lane with someone a bit faster, you might be able to swim closer to the middle and the get the benefit of a slight draft (which is what I was able to do for the first 200 m or so of this race, until my lane mate slowed and I passed him).
Race begins in the pool (not from the blocks) in the shallow end. Timekeepers stand at the far end of the pool and hold signs at the end of the pool indicating how many laps you've completed. At the final turn, timekeeper puts a red card in the water to indicate that you're on your last length. There are at least two lifeguards during the swim portion, as well as the head guard, who communicates by walkie talkie with other race officials. The official time was called out to me by the head guard as I exited the pool.
Athletes must walk on the pool deck, so don't plan on going all out on your way through T1. Once you exit the pool and hit the carpeted area, running is encouraged. T1 is a folding chair with your assigned lane number (which corresponds to your race number, by the way). The chairs are on a rug, so no worrying about slipping on the gym floor.
The bikes are Lemond Revmaster spin bikes, the kind that look like a big yellow "X." These bikes are highly adjustable: there are adjustments for seat height and fore/aft position, as well as handlebar height and fore/aft position. The bikes also provide for a range of hand positions, so plenty of opportunity to get comfortable. Before the race, volunteers take down the numbers at which you'd like the bike to be set, so the bike is fitted appropriately by the time you get out of the water and onto the bike. The one drawback (well, I don't know that we should even call it a drawback) to these bikes is that increased resistance does not translate to increased speed. Practically speaking, that means it's to your advantage to take the resistance completely off and keep your cadence as high as you possibly can. 90-100 RPM is not your goal here. If you can hold 140-160 RPM for 6 miles, be prepared to do it.
The bikes have digital displays that show you RPM, estimated speed, distance, and heart rate (if you're wearing a heart rate monitor). Your timekeeper keeps an eye on your distance, and also serves as a cheerleader (if you got a good timekeeper!) to help you count down the miles. The bikes are arranged in a semi-circle, so you can see your competition (and it provides some company as you spin your brains out).
After completing the bike portion, athletes run upstairs (yes, there are stairs at this point!) to the 1/10th mile indoor track. Timekeeper follows you upstairs to count your laps on the run. This leg is a 2-mile run. 20 laps. 20 laps is a long way, after going at such high intensity through the early portions of the race.
In fact, 20 laps seems downright *interminable* at this point. Fortunately, there's an area for spectators to cheer you on. Or (in my case) for coaches to yell that they know you can go faster.
One nice aspect of the race is that the "finishing chute" (actually the walkway that allows entry onto the track from the stairs and from the Center's cardio/weight room) is blue! So you get to go down the blue "carpet," just like they do in the big-dollar ITU races!
Awards are dependent on number of entrants per age group. In the larger age groups, you can expect awards to be three deep. In my age group (F 20-29), there were only two awards (I got third place). Medals for age group winners, trophies for the overall winners. And there are a ton of door prizes donated by area sponsors, so stick around for the awards ceremony in hopes of getting those (in past years, there have been gift certificates to the local run shop, as well as to food merchants).
There's music playing in the gym throughout the different heats, which is very good for those who perform better with music. There are a couple of world-class age group athletes in the Wichita area whom you can always expect to find at this race. There are also plenty of newbies who will drag through the swim and bike, only to blow right by you on their way way to a 10-minute run split. Or others who will blaze through the swim and fall apart on the bike and run. It's indicative of the type of newbies that this race attracts--single-sport athletes looking for something to do during the cold months.
One of the greatest parts about this race is that it has a friendly, communal feel. We all want to do well; many of us have been doing this long enough that we know what to expect from the race and from ourselves, and we want to see that happen. But there are plenty of first-timers, as well--swimmers or maybe runners who heard about the race and wanted to try it, or just everyday people who thought that this race was within reach. I like to imagine that this is what most races felt like about 15 years ago, before the sport developed into the veritable franchising opportunity that it's become today. Don't get me wrong--the big, well-constructed races are a great boon to our sport. But sometimes I wish we had more races where people didn't take themselves quite so seriously.
My one complaint is that the (one) lady who was doing body marking would NOT draw a smiley face on my leg! And she wasn't very nice about it, either.
Other Races You Might Like
Races: 5K, 10K
Races: 5K, 10K
Races: 1 mile