2017 Harvest Moon Long Course Tri Race Recap – What a Difference a Year Makes!


By Kirsten McCay

Wow! What a difference one year makes. The Without Limits/5430 Sports Harvest Moon Long Course Triathlon was a completely different race than it was one year ago. If you saw any pics or read any race recaps from last year (2016) you’ll have seen bikes blown down in transition, the slip and slide blowing away, and white caps in the reservoir. The wind was insane last year.

This year, however, the temperatures and weather were pretty much perfect. It was slightly chilly in the morning but about 15 minutes into the race the sun popped out from behind the clouds, warmed up the air, and then went back behind the clouds, staying there for most of the rest of the day.

Photo by Susan McNamee

These conditions made for PRs by almost every single athlete that I talked to who did the race last year. I know the race companies and race director have nothing to do with the weather, but it was a pretty perfect day and both newbies and experienced athletes both agreed that this year’s race was one of the best ever in the 18 years since the race started.

The race this year had 8 waves, including a first-timers wave which helps introduce newbies to the sport and ease them into a less intimidating and less aggressive swim start. They are also recognized for their accomplishment as there is an entire category of awards just for the first-timer. This is a positive way to introduce new triathletes into the sport. I love that Without Limits has this option in all of their races!

The swim this year was ideal. The water was calm and the buoys were easy to spot as the sun stayed mostly tucked behind the clouds. I don’t wear a Garmin, so I personally don’t know the actual distance of the swim, but I heard from several athletes after the race that the swim with a little bit short of the 2,000 m standard for the long course distance. Most measured it at about 1500 m.

Photo by Bill Plock

The bike course was also very easy thanks to partly cloudy skies, cooler temperatures, and very little wind on the course. The course is one of the fastest in Boulder, so for triathletes looking to ride a high mph average, this is a great course to test your speed on your bike. It’s also a perfect course for beginners who are doing their first half ironman distance triathlon, as the ride will leave your legs feeling a little fresher than many courses out there of the same distance.

We were also very fortunate on the run course as the temperature stayed in the low 70s. And the run being on hard-packed dirt was more gentle on the joints and muscles of the legs so again, a little easier for first timers, beginners, and those athletes wanting to test their speed. I also heard later in the day that the run course was about a half mile shorter than the standard 13.1 miles.

I spoke with 2 women after the race who used this as their first triathlon at this distance, and both were extremely happy with their experience. This race is small enough to make everyone feel included and a part of the community, but competitive enough to push even the most experienced athlete. I had a girl who I thought was in my age group blow by me on the 2nd lap of the run. I picked up my pace to try to stay with her, but couldn’t keep up. It ended up she was in the age group below me (phew) but that push helped me get to the finish line more quickly and took my mind of my hurting legs for a while!

There were a record number of Aqua-bikers at the race and this is the only Colorado race that includes a long course duathlon as an option!

There were 116 women, 218 men, 19 duathletes, 79 aqua bikers, and 17 relays who finished the race this year.

This was my 6th year racing the Harvest Moon Triathlon. I love that it’s in Boulder now and I love what Without Limits has done with the race. I will DEFINITELY be back next year! Hope to see you there!

Mark on Monday: Face Your Fears

By Mark Cathcart

A discussion about dealing with events, challenges, unexpected problems, and most importantly, those challenges life throws at you during the race season.

When I first agreed the schedule of articles with Dana for my 303 Column, Face your fears seemed like a good end of season challenge, little did I know what challenges would lay ahead of me.

In terms of fears, no matter what you are afraid of, someone else is probably more afraid but will get over it. That’s what makes a champion, looking fear in the “eyes” and fbeating it. That’s your challenge, take something triathlon or sport related that is really different, something you didn’t think you could do, something you were afraid of and do it!

For me this year it will be very different, after 18-years of triathlon, I’m planning to make the start line at the Without Limits Oktoberfest Triathlon. Last time I was at the Union Reservoir for the Outdoor Divas triathlon, to support my partner Kate in her race, I had a full-blown heart attack and was taken away post-race in an Ambulance (3).

I’ve seen people take on and achieve much bigger challenges. A club colleague of mine in the UK, was training for Team GB, when she was hit and paralyzed from the waist down. Just a year later, Paula Craig was the first Team GB Para-triathlete at the ITU Worlds in Cancun in 2002. You don’t have to look far to see incredible stories. I was amazed to see the progress that BBSC Endurance Sports Craig Towler had already made after losing both his legs after being hit by a driver while out training. (1).

I’ve stood at the start line for many races, both open water, with high waves, and frenetic pool based triathlons and heard people expressing grave concerns about their ability to start, much less finish.

To this day I can remember a race in the UK in 2006, pool swim, all the competitors lined up down the side of the pool waiting for the start. The pool was crazy, arms thrashing everywhere, there were as many as 6-people per lane, the noise was crazy, there were almost waves as the water crashed against the sides.

The guy next to me was, like me, 6ft tall, and he was having serious doubts about the swim. I told him it would be fine. He wasn’t convinced. I pointed out that while racking my bike I’d spotted a prosthetic arm in transition. He looked puzzled. We scanned the line of swimmers and couldn’t see the “owner”. It turned out to be the first ever triathlon for Claire Cunningham (nee Bishop). Claire is a medal winning and Champion paratriathlete for Team GB now and just 5’6” tall.

How must Claire have felt that day?

There is nothing special about these athletes. They don’t have a superpower, they take the challenges and setbacks and find a way of getting past them.

Most of us don’t face triathlon with anything like those challenges. Whatever you decide to do over the next few months, tackle something that challenges you, something that proves you are still alive. No matter if that is taking on a greater distance than you thought possible; going faster and placing higher than you think you can; getting out and becoming the hill climber; the cyclocross athlete and more.

Each of these “fears” can be broken down and divided into constituent parts; each of those parts you can find a way to address. As Claire says on her website “Nothing is impossible, you can find a way”. (*2) Create goals for each part, after you’ve achieved those goals, start combining the parts and setting new goals.

Look for help from coaches, books and videos. With not much of a racing season left, why not pick a fear and set about facing it before next season?

Me, I’ll be working the mount/dismount line for the upcoming 5430 Harvest Moon race, and then I’ll be doing everything I can to start, and finish the Oktoberfest triathlon in a few weeks.

  1. https://www.rhone.com/blogs/collective/my-story-by-craig-towler
  2. http://clare-cunningham.co.uk/about-me/
  3. I can’t thank Gaby and the EMT’s at Rapid Response Paramedic Services, the Mountain View Fire emergency crew, especially Carlos who, coincidentally volunteered with me at Ironman Bouler 2016; Dr Paik and everyone at Longmont Unit Hospital enough. Really!
Mark Cathcart took up triathlon in the late 90’s to get fit for adventure racing, which to this day he has never done, and has since taken part in 170+ events. His pragmatic approach to training, racing, and life have lead in from being the Chairman of one of the bigger UK Triathlon clubs 15-years ago; British Triathlon volunteer of the year; a sometime race organizer; The organizer and ride leader for Austin Texas award winning Jack and Adams triathlon shop; doing sometime Sports Management for development and professional triathletes; he has attended all the Triathlon Business International, and Triathlon America conferences, where he usually asks the questions others won’t; moved to Colorado in 2016 and is a co-owner of Boulder Bodyworker

Weekend Preview: Harvest Moon

Triathlon Events

Saturday September 16th


Littlefoot Triathlon 


Q&A with Rachel Joyce: Women for Tri Fundraiser


USAT Ultra Distance National Championships

Oklahoma City, OK

Sunday September 17th


5430 LC Triathlon (formerly Harvest Moon)


Cycling Events

Thursday September 14th


USA Cycling Collegiate Track National Championships

Indianapolis, Ind

Friday September 15th


Pedal the Plains

Kersey, Keensburg, Brush

USA Cycling Collegiate Track National Championships

Indianapolis, Ind

Saturday September 16th


Blue Sky Cup CX


Banana Belt MTB Race


Ride for Rhinos with Paul Sherwin


Trek Dirt Series Camp


Tour de Vineyards


Pedal the Plains

Kersey, Keensburg, Brush

USA Cycling Collegiate Track National Championships

Indianapolis, Ind

Sunday September 17th


Lucky Pie GP


Colorado League Race #2  – North Conference

Steamboat Springs

DUST2: Sunlight Camp Soaring

Pagosa Springs

Monarch Crest Crank


Rocky Mountain Enduro Series Race #4

Moab, Ut

Trek Dirt Series Camp


Tour de Vineyards


Pedal the Plains

Kersey, Keensburg, Brush