On Sunday, August 7th I had the pleasure of participating in the Barrie Triathlon. The annual event runs along the newly redeveloped Barrie waterfront and bills itself as a fun, fast event that’s perfect for spectators. It is run as a stand alone event and isn’t part of a provincial race series. Based on my experience, I highly recommend this race as an easy, well-organized event that’s perfect for beginners to the sport. Let’s explore my experiences at the event in more detail.
EVENT AND COURSE DETAILS
The Barrie Triathlon annually offers a sprint distance triathlon (700m swim, 20km bike and 5km run), a duathlon and kids of steel races. The course consists of a swim in Lake Simcoe parallel to the beach, a 5km-loop bike portion and a 5km run on a paved trail. The event is quite spectator-friendly with up to 8 opportunities to view competitors. The race is run on fully-closed streets and offers a catered BBQ lunch. And the roads are fully closed – I arrived earlier than the 7am stated road closure time to find the roads already closed. A slight hassle as I had to park far away and walk, but it’s nice to know that the road actually is closed and safe. There is ample parking within a 1km radius and if you aren’t a Barrie resident its a small fee to park anywhere along the waterfront. There are indoor full washrooms on site and additional portapotties nearby. The waterfront and race area is serviced by a boardwalk that leads into downtown Barrie so most amenities (food, coffee) are close by.
The race was generally conducted quite well with registration, transition and start times all following their schedule to a T. There were no delays to register and the transition area was well laid out. As the transition flow was slightly different this year, race organizers handed out maps to explain the way in and out of each segment.
Of note, this is one of the very few triathlons that doesn’t have an early morning start. Although bikes do have to be racked early, the main even doesn’t start till…9:30! At long last, a race where you don’t have to get up at inhuman hours. Personally, I set up my equipment then enjoyed a nice coffee and snack while the kids of steel races were on. Perfection.
The swim is a beach start in 3-minute waves for each age group. The swim is parallel to shore in deep water. Centennial beach typically has wind from the west, meaning there isn’t usually the potential for much in the way of waves. Water was a warm 24 degrees C (and typically is this warm at this time of year) and you could do the course comfortably with or without a wetsuit. Entry, exit and transition routes were well marked and laid out. Of note, there are only 3 buoys total on the swim so your sighting needs to be good.
The bike course is an out and back 5km loop along Lakeshore Rd. which follows the waterfront. It is a long, slow hill the entire way out and downhill on the way back. As mentioned previously the roads are fully closed so there is ample real estate to cycle. There’s a few giant potholes but the pavement directly in front of the beach is brand new. That’s it- there really are no surprises on the bike course. It really is pretty much flat and fast.
The run is a 5km out and back that uses the paved bike trail beside Lakeshore Rd. Again it’s a long slow hill on the way out and downhill on the way back. There were ample aid stations on the run with water and gatorade. There were plenty of volunteers handy to direct runners and the route was well marked.
There are few races as user friendly as the Barrie triathlon. Officials and volunteers are very helpful and accommodating to new riders. Although there was some top talent at the event, many of the racers seemed like casual or new racers and it wasn’t unusual to see mountain bikes or city bikes racked in transition. This is the perfect event for new racers to ease them into the sport – it can cause some anxiety when the bikes on both sides of you cost as much as a small car. A shoutout to the volunteers who were extremely helpful and motivating – especially to the young ones in the kids of steel races.
The Barrie race is also one of the few races to feature a FULL barbecue lunch after the event! A far cry from the typical bananas and bagels that are usually offered post-race, the super inexpensive race fee includes hamburgers, hot dogs, fruit, cookies, milk and a few more things. It’s also buffet style so you can even have more than one. The food was cooked over charcoal so during each of those 8 turnarounds you could smell delicious BBQ. This really is one thing that I wish race organizers would take note of – more races should provide food like this, because people like food. For spectators, there’s now a beach-side Kensington’s Burger Bar right beside the finish chute.
Lastly -and this is hugely worth mentioning- professional race photos are provided FREE OF CHARGE! You don’t have to worry about shelling out a ton of cash like you do for many of the races out there. I haven’t seen the photos from this year yet, but in my previous experience they were quite well done.
Overall the Barrie Triathlon was a blast. It was a no-stress, well organized and friendly event that had a small-town feel to it. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re newer to the sport, looking to try your first triathlon or if you live near the area. For only $70 (with no extra fees) you get a fun, professionally run race, a BBQ lunch and free photos to top it off. It’s pretty hard to say no to that.
Team Running Free Barrie Athlete