By Megan Jaffe
Wildflower 2012 was to be my husband’s first triathlon and just to spice things up we also decided to make it our first family camping experience. I use the word camping loosely as we actually rented an RV — with all its creature comforts — and traveled up the California Coast from San Diego to the outback of Central California. There, we met up with our triathlon training team, all parents of small kids with a mission of completing the notoriously grueling course. Most of our posse had packed tents for that weekend’s events and each one deserving of a special medal for being the ultimate badasses: racing Wildflower with kids in tow meanwhile sleeping in tents for the whole weekend. My family and I, not nearly as rugged, backed our 24-footer in and powered up the generator.
While this wasn’t my first triathlon, it was my first time at Wildflower and I was both nervous and excited to be at the starting line of this epic race. While standing on the bluff overlooking the swim start at Lake San Antonio, I watched as the horn sounded for my husband’s heat. He wasn’t a seasoned swimmer and the chaos of the mass start got the best of him as he floated on his back taking a moment to collect himself. Eventually, he collected himself and began the swim, bringing up the rear of his pack. At that point, I wished him well and needed to get down to the water to begin my race.
The course is everything you’ve read about. It’s challenging for sure, but it’s also beautifully scenic and lined with revelers; all there to cheer you on and get a laugh out of you while you’re suffering your mightiest. Our training group had divided itself up between Olympic Course and Long Course racers. On the day of each race, we left our kids with the parents who weren’t racing. There’s nothing like seeing the toothless grins of your brood on the sidelines as they yell, “Mommy you’re gonna win!” When, in my case, I’m clearly about 100 deep from the actual winner.
The icing on the cake is bending the corner to approach the finisher’s chute with the little ones falling in to accompany you in on the last few strides of this legendary race. I see my husband, looking a little worse for the wear, clapping and hooting as we pass. I’m grateful to see that he finished the swim and can now officially claim Wildflower as his first triathlon.
We made a lot of memories that weekend; smores around the campfire, swimming and soaking sore legs in the cool waters of Lake San Antonio, witnessing some of triathlons greatest take the podium, and completing a race that gives us bragging rights forever. Just when I didn’t think Wildflower could improve upon it’s unique “Woodstock of Triathlon” experience, they’ve gone an added yoga, SUP, and even a beer & wine festival. With all the new amenities, we can’t resist the chance to make some more Wildflower memories. We’ll be heading back again this year but this time we’re bringing mountain bikes for the off-road course…and I think we’ll bring the camper too.
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