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Worst or weirdest tri swims.


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On the back of the Daytona swim being in the middle of the race track, what are the worst or weirdest swims you have had in a triathlon? 

For me its a toss up between:

Shepparton swim in 1997? when they moved us down the road to a small muddy pond, because the big muddy pond had algae in it. It was possible to walk a lot of the swim in the muddy pond, but because of the sludge it was debatable whether walking was quicker or not. 

1992 ish Typhoon Triathlon in Bankstown, Bankstown is better known for Middle Eastern Gang violence than triathlons but it was actually a really well run tri back in the day. It was run by the local council in conjunction with its Japanese sister city. I don't thing the Japanese athletes that travelled half way cross the world for a triathlon expected to be dropped at the Bin Chicken capitol of Sydney.  They did however enjoy the novelty of taking photos of the "Danger Shark" sign. (a few dogs have been taken by errant bull sharks up there) 

Georges_Hall_Lake_Gillawarna_1.jpg

The other would be the Nike series race in about 92 ish, where we swam in Darling Harbour, among a swarm of jellyfish (thankfully the harmless ones) and I remember a few mates and I  chucking them at each other while waiting to start. You could taste the diesel in the water which had a lovely sheen to it.  On the upside the transition was indoors inside one of the enormous exhibition halls which was a nice touch,,,,,,,,, except of course when the nicely polished concrete floor got wet   :lol: 

So what are you "memorable" tri swims. 

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The other would be the Nike series race in about 92 ish, where we swam in Darling Harbour, among a swarm of jellyfish (thankfully the harmless ones) and I remember a few mates and I  chucking them at each other while waiting to start. You could taste the diesel in the water which had a lovely sheen to it. 

I did a similar race there but my first time in tris was 1994.

But the diesel was disgusting.

Weirdest swim for me was Pier One Tri where I swam into about 4 wharf rats.

There was Maitland where you swam past a dead cow.  Surprised it wasn't used as a turning buoy.

The old shep swim was always weird. Could never see you hand once it went under.  Goggle were pointless.

 

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Hell of the West is always interesting - either in the MacIntyre River or in the lake in the botanic gardens.

Starts just as the sun rises, so you are basically swimming in the dark.

Flashing light on a buoy at the turnaround so you can see it, and an SES boat close by to shout out if you miss it (I did one year).

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39 minutes ago, roxii said:

 

The other would be the Nike series race in about 92 ish, where we swam in Darling Harbour, among a swarm of jellyfish (thankfully the harmless ones) and I remember a few mates and I  chucking them at each other while waiting to start. You could taste the diesel in the water which had a lovely sheen to it.  On the upside the transition was indoors inside one of the enormous exhibition halls which was a nice touch,,,,,,,,, except of course when the nicely polished concrete floor got wet   :lol: 

So what are you "memorable" tri swims. 

Sounds like Cleveland with the swim in Lake Erie, lots of dead fish and that lovely diesel smell.  

A lot of my early tri swims were in the Murrumbidgee River, so seeing your hands was not really a thing. I remember at Leeton one year, the river was flowing so fast they had a metal bar to hang onto before the start, and if you let go you were washed away and had to get to shore and run back to the start (there was no way you could swim back).   Good for the non-swimmers, not great for me!  We all swam about 5 minutes haha

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Shepp was interesting. Blue Green Algae was always an issue we monitored for months out in the lead up to a November race given the weather conditions

Noosa 2007 (Diclaimer - only time I have done it) - had a mate start his wave something like 20 minutes behind me and we came out of the water together.  I am a crap swimmer, but turns out he waded most of it in knee deep water.

Geelong Olympic one year - may have been 2007 or maybe 2008 - Corio bay was absolutely packed full of jellyfish. Copped a heap of stings including one under the eye that was unpleasant.

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Mandurah 70.3 swimming with a current and clocking 23 minutes or something stupid. I don't count that as a PB!

Ocean OD - 2 lap swim course which included a 50m run round a cone on the beach, I followed 2 guys the first lap and we hit the beach about 500m from the cone so ran down and ended up with the fastest swim splits of the day, beating all the pros by about 2 mins which looked highly suspicious in the results!

Albany harbour swim. The largest tagged Great White on record (5.7m) was tagged swimming through the swim course a few days earlier....they had a couple of helicopters keeping an eye out race day, but no way they would have spotted it in the black water, got proper freaked out half way across when I was all alone. I probably wasn't alone...

South Africa 70.3 worlds, deep dark water. I'm normally Ok in the water, but 1km out to sea, (rolling starts), I was once again alone...deep, black water. As I got to the outer marker I spotted a diver with some kind of massive shark shield, I thought it was a camera, but found out later it was a shark shield. What a shit job he had!

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not worst or weird but my first triathlon was a swim across Sydney Harbour.  Also watched a triathlon at SeaWorld where most people waded most of the swim.  Forbes was another one that was in either a river or creek.  Most recent one was Kingscliff that was in a roaring tidal current where if you aren't careful and lift your head a little more often than usual you can come onto bridge pylons faster than you would expect.

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Worst was probably Outlaw in 2010. Navigation was easy because it was in Holme Pierrpoint rowing centre, so basically a 2km long swimming pool. Unfortunately, there had been an outbreak of duck week and they had to cut masses of the stuff, which left huge rafts of weed in the water.

When the swimmers in from came a cross some, they'd shout 'WEED' and we all adopted 'turtle paddling' to get across. You could have almost walked on it😮  Had to that about 10 times.  That and the fact that the weed cutting stirred up masses of goose sh1t, it was 'interesting.! We came out of the swim looking like those seaweed monsters from Dr Who😆

Weird in a bad way was 'A Day in the Lakes' HIM, also 2010 in Pooley Bridge, Lake District.  Swim was un Ullswater and nearly didn't go ahead because a 12yr old boy had drowned the day before and they couldn't find the body.  They did overnight before the race but it was still weird, helicopters, news and police on the other side of the lake and us racing in another part of it.

Weird in 'the most pleasant surprise, was the Marlow HIM in Bucks.  Swim was in The Thames and I thought I'd come out with extra limbs and a trip to hospital. Turned out to be the most pleasant river swim I've ever done. Water was clear and clean, lovely sunny day. Cracking swim!

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3 hours ago, Crappy said:

Griffith during the drought. It was shallow, hot and disgusting really.

Are you from around there?  That's my home town, I've done a lot of swimming in that lake. It's all run off so full of farm chemicals. Didn't do me any harm 😜 

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6 hours ago, Nick777 said:

Lilydale lake was pretty murky

Whoah, wait. There was a triathlon at Lilydale lake? Awesome.

They have signs there now saying no swimming, shallow water, deep water, strong currents (possibly true if you swam out all the way to the outlet). Lol

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Did a half in Ulverstone in 2005 and I think only 2 pros completed the actual swim course. Everyone else got washed off course, missed the second buoy and got washed up onto the beach about 400m from the swim exit. I remember being unable to see any land at the time and only knew which way to go when a lifesaver pointed me towards land. 
I think my swim time was around 55 mins compared to around 32 mins I was doing for other half’s at the time. 
 

Swimming in the lake at the Phillip Island Grand Prix track was just a dirty pond similar to Lilydale. I reckon I did at least 6 of those challenger races in Lilydale back in the mid 90s. I can’t think of a lake swim in Victoria that wasn’t murky. You couldn’t see your hands in any of Lake Wendouree, Shepparton, Bendigo or Benalla. 
 

The downstream swim in the Goulburn river at the Jockey Olympic distance race at Mitchelton winery was different as the river curves around a quite bit and you couldn’t see that far ahead on the course. The banks were high enough that you couldn’t see out of the river and you couldn’t see the swim exit until you got within 100m of it. The run course was mainly around the outside of the grape vine paddocks. It’s a shame there aren’t races in places like that anymore. 

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13 hours ago, dazaau said:

Whoah, wait. There was a triathlon at Lilydale lake? Awesome.

They have signs there now saying no swimming, shallow water, deep water, strong currents (possibly true if you swam out all the way to the outlet). Lol

Yep - the old "Challenger' series back in the mid 90's. 300/8/2. Couldn't see your hand in front of your face.

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59 minutes ago, Nick777 said:

Yep - the old "Challenger' series back in the mid 90's. 300/8/2. Couldn't see your hand in front of your face.

Awesome. Yes, the sign should just say, no swimming, pretty gross 😂

I swam in there with a wetsuit once. Similar to shep, but colder

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A few people found the swim at Kingscliff a bit interesting yesterday. They warned us about the sharp barnacles on the first buoy which was actually a permanent navigation marker. Some people got pushed into it by the very strong current and got shredded up and down their legs and arms. Looked very nasty.

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On 27/11/2020 at 1:31 PM, Ayto said:

Geelong Olympic one year - may have been 2007 or maybe 2008 - Corio bay was absolutely packed full of jellyfish. Copped a heap of stings including one under the eye that was unpleasant.

I stood on an urchin on the swim exit there one year - fark it hurt!

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I did the swim leg at Canberra half one year for a mate who would probably drown in a kitchen sink.

I hadn't been doing any swimming at all (nearly 12 months) but he insisted "no stress - I don't care about time just get to the bike and swap the timing chip over".  Made my way around the course and hit land only to promptly cramp up in both calves. Its a fairly long run from waters edge to bike transition - probably 700/800 metres from memory, and I suffered every single one of those!!

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Back in the 80's the first tri for the season in WA was usually the one at Lake Leschenaultia. The water was &#$%ing freezing. It was a deep water start. There was only two of us without wetsuits. We both stood on the jetty until the gun went and then hit the water. My leg cramped, from cold, towards the end of the swim. I did not stop shivering until half way through the run. Just before the end of the run I caught up with a mate who was really struggling. I stayed with him to the finish line. We were the last people to finish. I was very disappointed that there wasn't a wooden spoon prize for coming last 😀

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  • There's been a few in the Regatta Centre lake when they have delayed the cutting of the reeds and my Garmin comes out with extra bands!
  • Husky - think it might have been 2018? Buoy drifted between the mens and womens sprints, the ladies got about 150m extra 🤣
  • Womens Tri - Regatta Centre in May (2017 I think) 300+ women, mostly in the beginner, or early participant crowd, so next to no wetsuits to be seen. 16 degree water :o 
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... ah a subject near and dear to my heart. Comically bad and/or dangerous triathlon swims. A few spring to mind. 

The 1984 Wisemans Ferry Triathlon. In September. Way up the Hawkesbury. With no wetsuits. No one knew, no one cared and just got on with it. No one died but it was cold. 15 ish degree water temp I reckon. It was ridiculous. 

Same same first IMOZ swim in 1985. But longer. Much longer. 

The PPP (make up your own acronyms for that) Deacon Dubbo triathlon. Run by a colourful local identity. Swim in a river. Downstream one year was 1500m (legit) in seven minutes. With everyone as you didnt have to actually swim. The next year was a blue green algae creek. 

Same deal at the 1989 Daikyo world cup. 3km in under 30 mins, after the year before the race was against the current and washed a lot of Japanese competitors back the other way up the river. Bonus points in that race was blokes who couldnt swim came out with guys who could and promptly decided they were going to win the race... 4-5 hours later kaboom. Was funny to watch. 

The 1990 Leisure coast race with a few hundred thousand jellyfish. And if that wasnt enough Rick Pallister adding insult to injury by missing the start and beating the crap out of a few hundred punters as he swam his way to/over/through the front. 

The GP qualifier race at Lake Crackenback one year. When the lake was full of black and brown snakes... who swim just fine thanks. Same same in a lot of estuarine swims in bull shark infested waters. Now everyone has a drone, a camera and a social media headline. Sharks have always been there, just no one worried about them before. 

Any race where I was leading the swim (which was a relatively common occurrence for a time) in the good old mass start days and because I had terrible eyesight Id just go as hard as I could until I saw a turning can..... often adding a few hundred metres to a lot of triathlon swims..... for everyone. haha. Whoops. 

Old fashioned punch ups in swims... including one with Pring and I, until we realised who each other were. A few scores 'inadvertently and by accident of course'  settled. Poor Luke Grattan finding out the hard way he was better off in the second row in Canberra one year. 

Any aquathon swim where it was run first swim second. Watching people sink. 

Anyway... lots of memories. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Callum Dalgleish McGregor
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One of the weirdest swim I’ve done was a 2.4km Sri Chinmoy Yarralumla Canberra swim - maybe ‘93 or ‘94 of the Sri Chinmoy long course tri.

The swim was around an island (I think Spinnaker Island). It was a little unusual however, just as we started, a really thick fog rolled in.  It was so eerie swimming and hearing splashing but not been able to see more than 6 feet around you. You had to try and work your way around the island then back again without seeing anything. It was the freakiest swim I had ever done, not seeing hardly anything or anyone for 40 minutes  until about 20 metres from the swim finish.

FM

 

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On 27/11/2020 at 11:48 AM, -H- said:

I remember at Leeton one year, the river was flowing so fast they had a metal bar to hang onto before the start, and if you let go you were washed away and had to get to shore and run back to the start...

Did Leeton one year, you walked up river to the start and swam downstream to the transition.  I remember being paranoid about being impaled on one of the many snags that littered the  river.  Like you say at least it was a quick swim!

On 01/12/2020 at 9:35 PM, Flanman said:

One of the weirdest swim I’ve done was a 2.4km Sri Chinmoy Yarralumla Canberra swim - maybe ‘93 or ‘94 of the Sri Chinmoy long course tri.  The swim was around an island (I think Spinnaker Island). It was a little unusual however, just as we started, a really thick fog rolled in...

Yep I've done a few race swims in thick fog, or in mud, or freezing, or in fear of sharks & crocs & stingers...  This Triathlon caper's a barrel of laughs ain't it!

On 01/12/2020 at 7:52 PM, Callum Dalgleish McGregor said:

The GP qualifier race at Lake Crackenback one year. When the lake was full of black and brown snakes... who swim just fine thanks...

Great, if everything goes to plan my next event is meant to be Crackenback.  I've done the event a few times before but they told me they were just eels - now I know better!!

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18 hours ago, Go Easy said:

 

Great, if everything goes to plan my next event is meant to be Crackenback.  I've done the event a few times before but they told me they were just eels - now I know better!!

Ill probably be at that one as they have a swim/bike event and I live part time just up the road. 

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Hume Weir 1999 when the water level was way down due to drought. At the end of the swim leg we waded 100 m or so in knee deep mud and slash just to get to the boat ramp that lead to transition. 
+1 to Roxi’s vote on Shep alternate swim course. What a shocker.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here's a list .....

1993 National Watersports Centre in Carrum - Everyone got sick. Everyone. 

Sri Chinmoy and the fog was interesting. 

1998 Shepparton - I remember seeing a mate who wasn't a great swimmer get out and run along the bank to get ahead of me. Awful venue, but a great race.

2003 Ballarat 226 - I used to row on that course and it was always suspect when there was a drought. 3.8km in 50cm was the case and one buoy at one end and another at the other (950m away) meant people were crashing into each other .... I stood up and let a steaming JVW past on his return. Paying the volunteers petrol money on the start line was also interesting, but there were a few other interesting things that day!!!

2006 Geelong Olympic - it was 38C at the start line and they let us wear wetsuits. I almost boiled!

2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 London Olympic - you could taste the heavy metals in the water at Docklands. Might explain why I now have a third ear.

2011 Antwerp 70.3 - Belgians are the most brutal when it comes to dropping an arm in. 

2015 Dublin 70.3 - 2 metre swell rolling in an some idiot leprechaun says "ahhhh feck it, it'll be grand!"

2018 OW race in Dublin - 3 metre chop and they fired the gun. I am a good sea swimmer and stayed out there to help with the recovery, but 120 people were rescued. Insane.

Elwood - anytime. 

Lysterfield - anytime.

Best swims? Blenheim Palace, Weymouth, Queenscliffe (Vic), Portsea Pier to Perignon, the old Forster course, Haugesund (Norway), Windermere in the Lake District, Basel (CH), Oeschinen Lake (CH .... see photo), Lake Zurich, Nice, Barcelona, Brighton Beach, Sandringham, Lake Nacimiento (Wildflower). 

oeschinensee-29.jpg

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Do you mean Lake Nacimiento or Lake San Antonio for Wildflower? I wasn't there in the early years, so maybe it was Nacimiento. It's nicer than San Antonio.

T226 was a treat. They delayed the start for about an hour while the TO tried to find a swimmable course. Based on times, it might have been as much as 500 meters too long. Memorable, fun day. No regrets.

Best swims – Lake Wanaka is great anytime, even when the wind kicks up. A little surf never hurt anyone (until the marshal's kayak parks on top of you, but why quibble). Challenge Venice, walking through the city as the sun came up, and then leaving off the ancient stone wharf and swimming across the channel to the mainland was stunning. Challenge Henley on Thames was absolute magic – sun rising over misty water on the regatta course, where my grandfather competed.

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+1 for HOTW

 

Also Auckland OD Tri in 2012....somehow totally got lost -- could not see any buoys anywhere -- 1st and last time I've ever done backstroke in a race.....water safety pointing me in the right direction --- even though I still couldn't see any buoys or other swimmers 

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9 hours ago, steve said:

Do you mean Lake Nacimiento or Lake San Antonio for Wildflower? I wasn't there in the early years, so maybe it was Nacimiento. It's nicer than San Antonio.

T226 was a treat. They delayed the start for about an hour while the TO tried to find a swimmable course. Based on times, it might have been as much as 500 meters too long. Memorable, fun day. No regrets.

Best swims – Lake Wanaka is great anytime, even when the wind kicks up. A little surf never hurt anyone (until the marshal's kayak parks on top of you, but why quibble). Challenge Venice, walking through the city as the sun came up, and then leaving off the ancient stone wharf and swimming across the channel to the mainland was stunning. Challenge Henley on Thames was absolute magic – sun rising over misty water on the regatta course, where my grandfather competed.

It was Nacimiento in 2008 and Wildflower is an awesome race that should be on everyone's list. The end.

As for Ballarat, I had a couple of mates racing and I swam the course and then volunteered for the bike / run to make sure they were being looked after. The whole thing was a disgrace and I remember dipping into my own funds to pay off the lifeguards so it would go ahead. What I saw later that day made me wish it hadn't.

Another one on the mention list is Taupo .... dodging local golfers and crystal clear waters, with a nice, lazy last 650m to the finish.

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6 hours ago, Rimmer said:

It was Nacimiento in 2008 and Wildflower is an awesome race that should be on everyone's list. The end.

As for Ballarat, I had a couple of mates racing and I swam the course and then volunteered for the bike / run to make sure they were being looked after. The whole thing was a disgrace and I remember dipping into my own funds to pay off the lifeguards so it would go ahead. What I saw later that day made me wish it hadn't.

Another one on the mention list is Taupo .... dodging local golfers and crystal clear waters, with a nice, lazy last 650m to the finish.

Amen to Taupo. Thank you to you for stepping up at Ballarat. Most of the participants, including me, didn't know how bad things were until later, although it was easy to see that it was not as expected. The organiser deserved the heat she got, but everyone else – volunteers, community, participants – pulled it together.

I did the long course at Wildflower in 2008 and was a TO for the Oly the next day. It was at Lake San Antonio – it's been a local race for me for 25 years, and it's been there as long as I have. You're right, it should be on everyone's list. I'll make the same offer I made 15 years ago: if it ever comes back – it's only run once in the last four years – I'll pick up any Trannie that wants to do it at the airport and provide the camping gear.

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On 01/12/2020 at 7:52 PM, Callum Dalgleish McGregor said:

... ah a subject near and dear to my heart. Comically bad and/or dangerous triathlon swims. A few spring to mind. 

The 1984 Wisemans Ferry Triathlon. In September. Way up the Hawkesbury. With no wetsuits. No one knew, no one cared and just got on with it. No one died but it was cold. 15 ish degree water temp I reckon. It was ridiculous. 

Same same first IMOZ swim in 1985. But longer. Much longer. 

The PPP (make up your own acronyms for that) Deacon Dubbo triathlon. Run by a colourful local identity. Swim in a river. Downstream one year was 1500m (legit) in seven minutes. With everyone as you didnt have to actually swim. The next year was a blue green algae creek. 

Same deal at the 1989 Daikyo world cup. 3km in under 30 mins, after the year before the race was against the current and washed a lot of Japanese competitors back the other way up the river. Bonus points in that race was blokes who couldnt swim came out with guys who could and promptly decided they were going to win the race... 4-5 hours later kaboom. Was funny to watch. 

The 1990 Leisure coast race with a few hundred thousand jellyfish. And if that wasnt enough Rick Pallister adding insult to injury by missing the start and beating the crap out of a few hundred punters as he swam his way to/over/through the front. 

The GP qualifier race at Lake Crackenback one year. When the lake was full of black and brown snakes... who swim just fine thanks. Same same in a lot of estuarine swims in bull shark infested waters. Now everyone has a drone, a camera and a social media headline. Sharks have always been there, just no one worried about them before. 

Any race where I was leading the swim (which was a relatively common occurrence for a time) in the good old mass start days and because I had terrible eyesight Id just go as hard as I could until I saw a turning can..... often adding a few hundred metres to a lot of triathlon swims..... for everyone. haha. Whoops. 

Old fashioned punch ups in swims... including one with Pring and I, until we realised who each other were. A few scores 'inadvertently and by accident of course'  settled. Poor Luke Grattan finding out the hard way he was better off in the second row in Canberra one year. 

Any aquathon swim where it was run first swim second. Watching people sink. 

Anyway... lots of memories. 

 

 

 

 

Add Mac Masters Beach to that list especially the year the beach was closed, my misses ended up at Copacabana as the rip was so strong, Wollongong 85 at the yatch club with so many big jellyfish it felt like you were swimming over bodies (we all stood back watching the relay swimmers coming out crying and covered in huge red welts)

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I loved Mc Masters beach tri. Ocean swim with waves, beach run to your bike, dick punch nasty hill out of the carpark and the big climb up the back.... I think the top of it was 18 percent gradient? I remember my rear wheel slipping just near the top as the road was a bit wet.... back when your bottom gear was 42x21....   Just not the course marking in the bush on the run... haha.

No races like that anymore. Id venture a guess that even if the relevant approvals and permits were granted and the race were to be actually scheduled  with participants signing all the relevant waivers as some will inevitably crash on the descents due to their lack of bike skills, the problem may be.... willing participants. Same as RNP. 

Its too hard and there arent enough instagram photo ops in the bush. Oh well back to Kurnell. No. Wait. Thats gone too. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 27/11/2020 at 11:56 AM, gregb said:

Callala half iron in 2016. The turn bouys floated off into the distance. Bonus kay in the swim, no extra charge.

I clicked on this thread because I knew someone would mention this... :P

 

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Coles Bay... dunno the year, buoy swam away, windy, cold.... did 3.something km for a 2k swim.  Think i was the only farker without wetsuit but deliberate choice not to take it.

Did a hard one at wanaka too, freezing cold, big chop.

Did thatcronulla one mentioned, the aqua thon swim was harder then the tri swim that weekend but with the surf, its always easier then bad swims in lakes/ rivers where the chop goes everywhere as it’s normally just one way hitting you, just scares people that don’t know.

missed the start at port one year, now that was hard, 1000 people to swim through give or take.

and busso when it was a real swim around the jetty, got sea sick one year with the swell at the turn around, that’s probably the worst ive felt in a swim.

 

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On 07/12/2020 at 4:19 PM, PeterW said:

 

IMMEL2013 - water Armageddon!

 

Hey, it was shortened, then half the competitors shortened it again.  How many actually went further than knee depth?

Was nothing compared to Cape Paterson tri around 2009, was just about sea sick that one

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A point regardng triathlon swims that needs to be made is in the pursuit of the holy dollar anything less than pristine 22 deg pan flat swim conditions become a major no no for bedwetting types that are basically shit swimmers. This is why we now have wave starts of course and assorted other conditions to cater to the aquatically challenged cashed up consumer in search of a tattoo and a logo. 

Id venture many (most) swims of a lot of races that have found their way in triathlon folklore would never occur in this day and age - the litigious nature of course is one factor but the primary one is the customer is always right and wont pay for a bad experience because basically they cant swim. 

  • Ive seen commentators full of hyperbolic BS call 2 foot wind chop in a lake "massive 8 foot waves" when that is physically impossible and the closest that buffoon would have got to 8 foot waves would be from the safety of a computer screen. 

.... anyway cash business. Cant upset the paying public. 

 

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