I have been away from blogging, mainly because the WordPress website has been not loading correctly for me. While I have been looking for a new blogging platform, I married my best friend!!!!!!!!!!!, and spectated a few races in the last few months.
August 2018 USAT held their age group nationals in Cleveland, Ohio, the same location for the race in 2019. Hopefully this guide will help you and your crew navigate the weekend!
*Disclaimer: this post is only about the Olympic distance race. I would imagine the sprint distance event to be similar, as it is held the day after the Olympic race, also in Edgewater Park.*
Athletes need to be checked-in and rack bikes Friday before the Saturday race. We lucked out and had a friend who lived 1 mile from transition so we had their apartment as our plan B for accomodations, which we needed to use! When you qualify, I would recomend to book accomodations right away. There were several AirBnB options nearby; however; the prices were outrageous closer to the event. Ohio City is a fun place to stay and I would recommend looking in that area to start.
Race check-in is efficient, you can park right in the fields/lots at Edgewater on Friday. Parking on Saturday is a different story… we would definitely consider buying the parking pass if Jon goes back next year. On Friday, we passed many street parking spots on 73rd St that would have been perfect if you wanted to avoid race traffic. If you got there right when transition opened on Saturday, there were still several spots on 73rd St. The problem is that if you try and there aren’t any spots, you get turned around and potentially stuck in additional traffic for those who did buy a parking pass trying to get to the park. Jon and I ultimately parked on Clinton off of 73rd and walked less than a half mile to the park. Free and our car was shaded by a tree which was clutch at the end of the day!
Overall, I was impressed with the race. The volunteers were knowledgable, the course was easy to follow and the crowd support provided a fun atmosphere.
I started on the “beach” with Jon and watched until his age group was halfway trough the swim before walking to the swim out chute. When I saw Jon coming, I SPRINTED (truly, I was running two mins/mile faster than my normal race pace!) through the parking lot, around the left side of transition, in the grass to bike out. I felt like a rock star because I made it just in time to see Jon leaving T1! It helps that the athletes’ swim–>transition path is not quite as direct, and the whole transition thing takes a few minutes.
While Jon was out on the bike, I did not attempt to see him until T2. USAT did have an event tracker that was decent so I had a better idea of when to expect him back at transition. There isn’t quite enough time to do much during the bike, but there were a few food trucks in the central hub and a jumbotron showing the race coverage that would have been sufficient to kill some time. I watched some more of the age groups go out on the swim before heading over to run out to catch Jon. When Jon was running out, I stayed on his right side. This area was not crowded at all and I was able to run along with him for a few seconds to see how he was doing. I headed to the Beach House area near the swings and I was able to see him complete the first loop and turn to start his second lap. After I saw him this first time, I made my way to the finish line. The run course had a man-made hill right before the finish line so you could spot your athlete going up to give you a heads up to get your cameras/cowbells ready.
The post-race celebration was decent with catered food instead of pizza and beer! You did have to wait to get your bike until later in the day so we left the park and ended up driving back later. I would recommend staying in the park if you can to avoid the long line of cars leaving or trying to get their bikes.
Cleveland is the host city again for the 2019 USAT Age Group Nationals, we hope to be back and hope to see you and your athletes there!
Jon also felt like a super star after his picture (above) was tweeted after the race!