I recently traveled to California to participate in the iconic Wildflower Experience , a race that’s been on my bucket list for nearly my entire triathlon career. My weekend did not disappoint! The gorgeous venue, challenging course, and full weekend of being off the grid with thousands of compatriots were exactly what I’d been imagining. If you’re looking for a race venue that does *not* involve the Boulder Rez, I highly recommend making the trip to Wildflower. Here’s why:
1. The History
2018 marked the 35th running of the Wildflower triathlon (what’s Wildflower?). If that doesn’t make it a race rich with history, then I don’t know what does. Surely there’s a reason for the longevity of this race – don’t you want to find out what it is?
2. The Unique Environment
This is not the standard race where everyone shows up for packet pickup, returns for the race, and then departs soon after crossing the finish line. The venue is 35 miles from the nearest town – and nearest hotel – so you’re showing up on Thursday, eating, sleeping, hanging out, racing, maybe racing again, and celebrating through Sunday afternoon, all at the race venue … and all with your race weekend posse plus thousands of others doing the same. It truly is the Wildflower Experience, not just a triathlon.
3. The Brutal Bike and Run Courses
I realize that doesn’t sound like a selling point at first blush. But if you hold the opinion that too many people are looking for easy races so they can PR, and that too many race directors are taking the challenge out of their courses to enable those PRs, you will LOVE the Wildflower course. It has more elevation on both the bike and the run than any other course that I know of in North America, including three rated climbs on the bike and one on the run. Even the pros are known to power hike the big climb on the run course!
4. Local Race Vibe; National Brand Numbers
The local race vibe brings a more laid back attitude and a wider range of athletes than you might see at a nationally-branded race. But with registration numbers in the thousands, you’re not going to get lonely out there on the run course. And numbers like that also mean great vendors at the Expo and a stocked merch tent, two of my favorite things (cuz, just like snacks after 10pm, Expo and merch tent money don’t count).
5. There’s Something For Everyone … And I Mean, EVERYONE
With four triathlons over two days, two trail running races, SUP races and rentals, it’s easy to pull together a wide-ranging group for a girls’ weekend / guys’ weekend / family race-cation. Even if your friends or family don’t want to break a sweat, there are bands playing all day at the Expo, where they can also do some wine tasting and get a massage. And for those with a real specialty-focus to their sport, there was even a well attended but very under-the-radar running of the Beer Mile this year. Oh, wait, and did I mention the 80s dance party? I mean, who isn’t going to want to come with you next year?
6. The Logistics Are NOT As Overwhelming As You Think
Getting yourself, your gear, and your bike to a race can often be headache enough, so it’s understandable that adding food, water, and shelter to that list might feel like a deal-breaker. But, really, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Your guide to How to Wildflower spells out all the details, and rumor has it that local bike transport extraordinaire ProBike Express will be serving Wildflower once again in 2019. With PBE transporting your bike, your gear, and your tent, the rest is a piece of cake. Or at least a nice s’more.