Lake Evans Triathlon Race Report
Updated: Oct 22
This triathlon was originally scheduled for September in Shaver Lake. But then came the Camp Fire, one of the worst in California's history. As if the pandemic wasn't a big enough challenge to putting on a triathlon. Nevertheless, the organizers of the event Sierra Cascades Multisport Productions persisted and changed the date to October and the venue to Lake Evans, 20 miles south of Bakersfield. The "Mile High" triathlon was now at 264ft altitude and dead flat.
As we did at the Huntington Lake triathlon, my first pandemic triathlon experience, we self-seeded lined up on little crosses for the start. I went first. I wanted to be up front because I knew it'd be hot and wanted to get it out of the way and I like knowing where everyone is. I did try and get the girl lined up behind me with no wetsuit who looked like she could destroy me go ahead but she declined. She did destroy me, passing me before the first buoy despite giving me a 10 second head start.
The swim started with a hobble down a boat ramp and the water was kind of murky and sometimes there were these prickly weeds in parts but aside from that it was well marked with big buoys and very pleasant water temp in the low 70s. It was a little short, perhaps 150-200 yards but that is easily fixed for next time. Another kid passed me on the swim but that was it. I killed T1 putting my glasses and helmet on while I stomped my wetsuit off for the fastest T1 of the day! Don't need to be fit to transition like a king.
With the exception some Formula 1 courses I've raced on it's probably the flattest bike course I've done. The road surface was fairly flat aside some huge chunks of potholes on some stretches. The organizers had marked them well so if you kept your eyes open they weren't a problem. I was passed by another swimmer kid and not sure what happened to the girl but I was in front of the race for a while before the fasties took over. The bike course was officially open to vehicles but I saw maybe 4 or 5 over the course of the entire 40K. Again the course was a little short on distance. If more people had entered the event they may have had a problem with drafting (didn't see any officials out there) but as it was spaced out I didn't see any problems. If you like flat courses (and I do) this one's for you. A couple of easy right angle turn and one hairpin at half way and that was it.
On to the run and by this time we must've got up to 90 degrees with not a leaf of shade on the entire course. They had aid stations every 1.5 miles, which would usually be enough, but in these conditions I could've soaked myself every mile. I normally discourage bringing your own water for a supported Olympic distance but on this one occasion a handheld bottle of ice water wouldn't have been a bad idea. As it was, I drank the offered small cup of sports drink and tipped the other of water over my head. I can't remember anyone pass me. They may have but I was focused on my own hell, especially the last two miles where I had developed a sizable blister on my right foot arch. A combo of relatively new shoes and being soaked in sweat. I did slow down in the second half but not too horribly and finished 8th overall, about where I would have guessed I was despite the staggered start. The finish was stocked with a contactless food package (which I wasn't quite ready for) and beer, soda and water which I was ready for and I staggered into the lake to cool off.
All the COVID precautions were correct and safe according to my traveling companion, Gunnar (who finished 13th overall), who works in a hospital so would know. We stayed in Taft the night before, about 20 miles away, which I recommend as a cultural experience. Thanks again to Sierra Cascades and timing company SVE Timing for putting the race on against the odds. There's plans to have this race again in Spring, and while the destination might not be what you want, it might be what you need for your in-person triathlon fix.