National Triathlon Championship - Saturday - October 8, 2011

Nancy and I got up early and left the house by 6:15am to
go watch the triathlons in Myrtle Beach. 

There were 3 races,
The Sprint, The International and The Halfmax Championship
each consisting of a swim, bike and run leg.
The Halfmax Championship was the big draw and
consists of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 miles run.
All three events shared the same course at the same time,
so it did get a little difficult to figure out who was where in their race.

All the events took place at a spectacular venue in Grande Dunes,
an elite development on the intercoastal waterway.
00 - Grande Dunes Entry

We arrived just as the sun was rising.00a - Sunrise

As we approached the course, you could see the transition area.  That is the area where each competitor has an assigned spot to store their bike, running shoes and necessary gear.   The first event of a triathlon is the swim, followed by the bike and ending with the run.01 - Transition Area
You must pass through the transition area to get your gear
for the next segment of your race.

We walked down past the finish line and found
Tim,  owner of Grand Strand Bicycles. 02 - Finish Line
03 - Bill and Tim
Mary and Tim of Grand Strand Bicycles have two Bicycle Shops in the area.  They provide all the bike support for this event.  Tim was getting ready to head out on the bike course to provide support for the cyclists, but took a minute for a photo ;o))  If you are ever in this area and need bikes or bike repairs or clothing or parts…these guys are the BEST!!

Nancy and I headed out toward the intercoastal waterway to see the start of the swim leg.  It was a chilly morning (mid to upper 50’s) with about a 20mph wind.  Nancy and I agreed that we were glad we were not jumping in the water in these conditions.
05a - First wave entering the water
The competitors line up on the bridge along the marina.  They walk down the ramp and enter the water in groups (waves) of about 30 swimmers at a time.  This first group is the fastest group and probably will produce the winner.05b - First wave ready to start
They tread water until the horn sounds and then ...

05c - First wave their off

It is a mad scramble down to the buoy and
05d - First wave around the bouy

out to the intercoastal waterway.
05e - Leader heading south on IC

They head south for about 1/2 mile, turn around and swim
back towards the Grande Dunes Bridge.

05f - Swim Exit Area

At the bridge, they go around the last orange buoy.
Below is the first swimmer to arrive at that buoy. 
He will finish the course in about 35 minutes!!!05g - leader final turn
There are volunteers all along the course to provide
assistance and help if needed.

Once the swimmers reach the yellow buoys,
they exit the water and run up this ramp.05h - exit ramp

They go around the building, down the sidewalk06 - Run to Bike Transition
across the road and into the transition area
to ditch their wetsuits and get their bikes. 
Remember, they just spent 35 minutes swimming 1.2 miles and
they are running to get on their bikes!!!06b - Run to Bike Transition across the road
These fellows were just too fast for us to see
them leave the transition area on their bikes. 
We couldn’t keep up and all we were doing was watching them ;o((

This is a very flat course. 
Except for the transition out onto the bike course. 
It is a difficult uphill transition and caused a few riders some trouble. 
06c1 - May Out of transition06e - Tough Uphill Start06d - Uphill Start

This competitor is May from Grand Strand Bicycles.
  06c - Out of transition
Having some local knowledge of the course,
she decided she would run the bike to the top of the hill and
avoid any possible problems :o))
06f - Run up hill
Smart Girl :o))

The bike course is a closed course which means
they have shut the roads to car traffic. 
Nancy and I walked up to Hwy 17 bypass to watch the cyclists. 06g - On the course
These cyclist will average 20-25 mph for 56 miles!!!06h - Aero Position for 56 miles
After that, they will run a half marathon…YIKES!!

From our spot on the Cycling Course,
we still had a view of the swim and run course. 
There are still many waves of swimmers heading out on that course.07b - Swimmers from Hwy 17

Here comes the first cyclist to finish
28 miles or lap 1 of the cycling segment.
Notice the second place rider is not far behind.08 - Lead Cyclist finishing first lap

The riders make two sharp left turns
to get to the turn around circle.
08a - left turn into Grande Dunes

Then a hard right into the circle…
08b - right turn around traffic circle
All the way around the circle and back out
to the highway for another 28 mile lap… 
Whew...are you tired yet?!?!

08c - back to course for lap 2

I believe this spectator has worn himself out ;o))10 - Exhausted Spectator

There are lots of young families here supporting and
cheering on mom or dad. 
09 - Family Affair

We love being around all this energy. 
If you have the chance to attend one of these events, don’t miss it.
You can’t help but come away with a special high!!

Speaking of high…
10a - Overhead Spectator
How about this spectator !!

Once the athletes finish their swim and bike segment,
they transition into the run. 
For the HalfMax, that is a half marathon or 13.1 miles…

Some of following runners are from Grand Strand Bicycles.11a - Starting the run Grand Strand Runner11c - Grand Strand Runner11d - Grand Strand Runner

We watched for about 4 hours and decided to call it a day. 
As we crossed the highway to get to our car,
we still saw more and more cyclists. 
There will be athletes on the courses for many hours. 12  - Bikes finishing as we head home

The Top 15 Finishers in each division qualify for the
 World Championship in Europe this spring—WOW!!

However, most of these athletes do this for the love of the sport. 
Some will be out there for many hours with no chance of winning,
but just trying to beat their last time!!

We love being around all these positive people!!!

Now we need to go home and get a nap :o)) 


  1. Wow I have been reading your blog for over a year. I remember this from when Bill was one of the bicycle crew. I know you both really love this and I'm so happy this National Championship is in your home town.

    Again, this is a great set of pictures and commentary. I got a really clear idea of what this triathlon is like. Whew, these folks are fit but are they all young? And crazy???

    Who won??? The guy who came out of the swim first? Or someone else? Do they have a male and a female winner? Seems like they should since the muscle factor is substantially different.

  2. Fun stuff- Catherine and I both completed sprint distance races twice, when we lived in Tampa. It is amazing to see the racers do the longer distances.

  3. It amazes me that some people exercise more in one day than most folks do in a month or two...or maybe in a year.

  4. That's some serious competition. Amazing dedication to be able to do all that, and still be breathing at the end! ;c)

    Paul & Marti

  5. Grand Strand BicyclesOctober 10, 2011 at 11:20 AM

    Thanks for all the Mentions Bill and Nancy. Its always great to see you both. FYI, Our May is one of the athletes that qualified for Spain along with Brad Stone, another local, they both completed the Half. We'll be holdin a lot of Chicken Bog Dinners to help pay for Mays trip. We're very proud of them both. And to the comment that thinks everyone is a spring chicken I believe the youngest from the GS area is Christina at age 13 and the oldest is Jerry, hes 64. Also most of the local paticipants are members of the Myrtle Beach Tri Club, the club came in 1st place in their national division.
    Lots to brag about.

  6. Wow! That makes me need a nap too! That's more exercise than the average person gets in weeks!
    Even more than chasing after my 2 year old granddaughter! :)
    So, are you entering next year??? We could have the 2nd Annual there and cheer you on ;)

  7. Kudos to all of those athletes. I'm tired just reading about it!