Friday, April 13, 2018

Course Preview: Utah Lake Olympic (THE ULO)!

The Utah Lake Olympic (aka the "ULO") is a new, OLYMPIC ONLY race for 2018 that will take place May 19th.

Last year the Toughman Utah Half took place at this venue, and local triathlete Tyson Alexander scoped it out with the course preview below. We thought we'd refresh your memory so you know what to expect come race day. The swim info is pretty much the same, it's one loop on the bike as opposed to 2, and simply a shorter out and back run. Thanks Tyson!

While it's fun to "PR" on a course you've done before, it's also fun to break in brand new terrain a la Lewis & Clark. In place of a fur hat will be your swim cap, instead of rifles you'll be armed with energy gels, etc, etc... but it will still be an epic adventure, we promise you that!

Sacagawea famously points over Lincoln Beach, home of the Utah Lake Olympic swim course

link to sign up! 

Utah Lake Olympic – Course Preview

For those of you who have looked forward or backward (or sideways maybe) to Kona with two eyes and a heart full of wanting year after year, and yearned for the day when you could test your meddle against the harsh elements; the charred landscape, the unforgiving heat, the swirling wind, and the mental challenge of seeing the course stretch on before your eyes.  For those of you who have spent countless hours on a treadmill (or the trainer) while watching Kona DVD’s and visualized yourselves grinding through the energy lab knowing full well the relentless physical and mental assault that eludes you - prepare yourselves for the 2018 ULO, a great course that will allow you to test your mind and body in a Kona like setting on (the west side of) West Mountain.  A place without a name – a no man’s land where you will be able to visualize the big island as you bike and run past the charred, fire burnt landscape of one of Utah County’s greatest, most hallowed, yet less travelled terrain.  Thank you RaceTri.  Having grown up in Payson, and having lived in Santaquin and Genola, this course is a perfect jaunt through some great parts of the county that many never get to see.     


The entire course is located in and around West Mountain, which happens to be the name of a town west of Payson, but also the name of the actual mountain that will be fixed in your mind for the rest of time.  Located at the south end of Utah Lake (the northern tip of West Mountain), the transition area and swim start are located at the Lincoln Beach Campground.

Transition Area:

At Lincoln Beach there is a grassy area with bathrooms and space to prepare yourselves – as you are able to gaze across the lake to see Utah County with the backdrop of Mt. Timpanogos.  A wonderful sight if you’ve never ventured to this part of the state.  This transition area is approximately 250 feet from the swim start (asphalt road) and is wide open.  



Much of the swim will be a long straightaway, providing a lot of room for spectators to watch. As the RaceTri site states, if you're nervous about open water swimming, be comforted that you're never far from shore. Also as a May race, water quality will be solid as opposed to how Utah Lake can get sketchy (and overly warm) in the late summer months. Below is a picture from the actual boat dock (swim exit) with the swim start being the dock on the left side of the image.  



The bike leg will take you in a clockwise direction for 1 lap around West Mountain (the actual mountain).

You will head south out of Lincoln beach, through some farming country, and then onto highway 147 south.  The elevation gain is approx. 842 ft. per loop (1680 total) with miles 4 through 14 being a mild climb.  Some of these roads have recently been refinished and you will enjoy the difference between those roads and the roads that have not been refinished.  Please note that in the course video below, I did encounter a goat running along side the road (2:10 in the video).  This may or may not be a normal occurrence on this course.  Be advised that there is a downhill portion (mile 3) coming out of the beach followed by a right turn.  It isn’t extremely tight, but you will likely still have more speed than normal following the downhill portion on this turn.  Many of these turns (90 degree turns) and winding roads from miles 3-10 may have gravel on the road, and possiblly hay, debris, etc. from the farms and wind.  Please be careful.  At mile 10, you will be on Hwy 147 heading south.  There are apple orchards and cherry orchards for which Payson and Santaquin are famous (well, as famous as Payson and Santaquin can be).  Mile 14 will bring you through the “Goshen gap” and down into Genola.  A hidden gem of farmland and homes where many will want to live following this race.  Enjoy this through mile 18 where you will encounter some more cherry orchards (and probably some cherries on the road).  At mile 19 you will be at the southwest corner of West Mountain and turn towards the North on Lincoln Beach Road.  This stretch (miles 19-25) is a dry, burnt, wasteland on the right and will remind you of Kona if you want it to.   Be on the lookout for the few trees that survived the fire, and are thriving in the burnt hillside, inspiring your mental image to grind it out!


The run portion is a classic out and back. If it's a particularly warm May day, mile 1-2 may give you a bit of shade, but after that you’ll be exposed. This is where you can imagine yourselves in Kona, running through the lava fields, with nothing but burnt dreams and wasted landscapes taunting you to give up or quit.  

This is where you can dig down into our psyche, and motivate yourselves with that inner voice, reminding you that all throughout your life, you’ve had charred hillsides or negative influences urging you to quit, giving you reasons to stop running - but you aren’t a quitter – you are a triathlete – and so you just keep moving.  You keep reminding yourself that a burned up mountain is no match for your awesome.  So you keep on moving forward to the next mile marker, knowing full well that just on the other side of this mountain, around the next turn – is the finish line – and that is where you belong.

link to sign up!        

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