Each year, during the last weekend in June, athletes, their family and friends, converge on beautiful Central Oregon to take part in the Pacific Crest Weekend Sports Festival. Pacific Crest is known as the “jewel of multisport events in the Northwest” and it has become a traditional destination race for athletes from across the nation, as well as from across the globe.
We’d heard great things about the event, so Ben jumped at the chance to test his mettle at two-thirds of the half-iron distance. He’s toying with the idea of making the jump up from Olympic distance in his next race, so this was the perfect opportunity to do a trial run on the swim (1.2 mi) and run (13.1 mi) portions.
Our friend, Nick, was covering the bike (58 mi) portion of their relay. And we were joined by a few more friends who formed an all-female relay team: Mary Ann (swimmer), Sara (bike) and Britt (run).
I was excited to be able to play sherpa for the day; Ben’s supported me at so many races, I’ve got a lot of work to do to return the favor! Plus, it’s also worth mentioning that race-day temps were predicted to be approximately the same as the surface of the sun (100+ degrees)…so needless to say, although I was feeling a little antsy to be not racing, I got over it pretty quickly.
For as many events and participants in the weekend’s activities, I’ve got to give it to the organizers for keeping everything — and everyone — running safely and smoothly in conditions that were becoming less than ideal over the course of the day. On the swim, for example, their mantra was “for every 10 people who go in, we want to count 11 coming out,” so they did manual counts to double-check the numbers and make sure everyone emerged ok.
Another tough leg to provide much support (beyond intermittent aid stations) is the bike. By this time it was starting to heat up and get muggy, so both our cyclists decided to err on the side of caution and carry extra water in camelbacks in addition to multiple bottles on their bikes.
While they cycled around Sunriver, I took the swimmers back to our rental house to change and refuel. Ben also had to get ready for his second leg — the run — which would likely take place in the hottest part of the day.
Showers and snacks done, we made our way to the bike-run transition, which was closer to the Sunriver Village. Sara and Nick finished within a 15-minute span; their runners got tagged in when temps were nearing 90, and we were just hoping that the cloud cover would hold for a few more hours.
Ben had a strong start, but the sun began to burn off quickly as the temps crept further up. Later, both he and Britt raved about the course support, however, saying that there were extra aid stations with ample water and people spraying down the athletes in between.
Thanks to that support nearly every mile along the course, both Ben and Britt finished strong despite the beating sun. As Ben crossed the finish, he was handed an ice towel and ushered to a shower tent for cooling — again, the organizers did a fantastic job of making sure they took care of the athletes!
It was definitely a tough race — both in course and in conditions — but the majority of people were coming across the finish line looking far less beat up that I would have thought, so that was impressive. And the volunteers were nothing short of amazing, braving the heat to help keep participants safe.
After our crew all finished, we met up in the Sunriver Village pavilion so they could rehydrate and dive into the post-race smorgasbord of food. There may have even been some talk about signing up again next year, as well as targeting a few more events in the meantime…#triathleteprobs.
If you’re interested for next year: Pacific Crest events begin Friday morning, with the competition and fun continuing into Sunday afternoon. The full weekend includes Tour de Crest Bike Tours, Long Course and Olympic Triathlons, Endurance and Olympic Duathlons, Marathon, Half-Marathon, 10k, 5k and three kids events — and we all give it our stamp of approval!
For more information, check out the Pacific Crest Weekend Sports Festival website here.