Race Report: IM Santa Rosa 70.3

The girl is officially back into triathlons!

So back story:  I was on my collegiate triathlon club in undergrad.  Thats how I first learned about the sport and got into it.  I took some time off during grad school and just focused one exercise for fun, not for ‘training.’  Once I moved to California, in order to get plugged in with a community I joined a triathlon club, and did my first triathlon in 4 years last fall, IM Santa Cruz 70.3

After that race I got hooked again!  I signed up for Santa Rosa 70.3 later that month.  This time I decided to take it more seriously, and even trained with a coach, which has made a world of a difference, something that I may blog about later.

ANYWAYS.  Here’s what I thought about IM Santa Rosa 70.3.  (Also sorry, I didn’t get many pictures for this one, so you’ll just have to take my word on some things.)

Packet Pickup Day:IMG_6801

  • You’ll notice I said “packet pickup DAY.”  Packet pickup and bike drop off is a full day event.  You’ll wanna get started early.  The event is on Saturday, and we did packet pickup Friday afternoon.  I was rushed and stressed out of my mind!
  • I recommend picking up your packet on Thursday, and here is why:  The bike drop off is 30 minutes outside of Santa Rosa.  And you can sure bet parking is tight.
  • You have to drop your run bag off at the packet pickup in town either Thursday or Friday, so if you are planning on going for a shakeout run, bring some backup shoes.
  • Again, bike drop off is 30 minutes outside of town, and its super helpful to have a race sherpa, so that they can drop you off, you run your bike in, and they can circle the car because unless you are there first, you probably won’t be able to find a place to park.
  • Thursday or Friday is the only time you will have to get a swim in before the race, so if you need to do that, do it now.
  • Packet pickup is located at the run transition, so when you drop off your bag, I highly recommend taking note of where your bag is in relation to surroundings!  Or bling out your bag with some brightly colored duct tape or a balloon so you can spot it amongst the 2 THOUSAND other bags there.


  • I woke up at 4 AM, and stuffed a dry bagel, coffee, and a clif bar down.
  • Please head the race planning committee’s advice and take advantage of the shuttles that will take you from downtown Santa Rosa to the swim start/bike transition.  I got on the bus around 5:15 and we barely made it in time because of all the people who didn’t take the shuttle having to find a place to park.
  • If you do drive there that morning instead of taking the shuttle, parking is going to be very difficult and you will have nearly a mile walk up hill from the parking lot to the swim.
  • There were plenty of porta-potties and while the lines looked long, they moved fast enough.
  • The swim is a rolling start, and while you can seed yourself by standing near some ‘pace’ signs, the signs were not spread out enough so I couldn’t really stand with my seeded time.  It was 40 minutes between race start, and me getting into the water.  Be prepared to hurry up and wait when it comes to the swim.  Also you can’t really get in the water to warm up, nor do you want to since you’ll be standing there 20-60 minutes before you can swim again.
  • Air temps were chilly, but the water was mid-60’s which was warmer than the air, and its nice freshwater.   They had to change the direction of the swim for us to minimize chop.  The swim is a big L, with 3 major turns.  I had a hard time spotting the yellow buoys after the first turn, but no problem seeing the orange ones on the way back in.
  • Because people are generally not good at seeding themselves, I was either crawling over or being crawled over the entire swim.
  • Also bring some transition sandals to leave at the swim finish!  You have about a quarter mile run up the steep boat ramp, and the concrete WILL hurt your feet.  I learned that lesson after Santa Cruz.  People were complaining about their feet being raw on the run because of that.

The Bike:IMG_3300

  • After the swim, I just put a long sleeve bike jersey over my wet tri suit and pulled some gloves on, and I would say I was just right, if not a little too warm by the end of the ride.
  • You won’t be coming back here, race organizers will bring your items to the finish.  I stuffed everything else into my bike bag that I got from packet pickup so that it was all together, and gave Mason my extra ticket to keep so that he could pick up my things for me while I was running.
  • This ride is faaaaast!  I was in tail wind basically the whole time.
  • There are some rollers, one short climb near the beginning and another short one towards the middle.  If you live in a hilly area (note, not mountainous, just hilly) this course will be a breeze for you.  If you are used to riding in the flat lands, might want to get a couple climbs under your belt just to get used to what that feels like on a long ride.
  • There will be a lot of riders with you on the bike course (you know, unless you’re winning) so be very careful that you are not drafting.
  • The course is beautiful, through wine country.  I wanted to stop and take a picture so many times.  There wasn’t much on the course as far as aid and support, so make sure you have plenty of water and your own snacks on you.

The Run:IMG_5356

  • Hopefully you remembered where your bag is!
  • The run was a 2 loop paved/trail run right near downtown Santa Rosa, with the first loop being 9 miles and the second being 4.  I actually really liked this format because you got a lot of crowd support, and when you came back after the first loop you knew you only had 4 miles left.
  • The run got hot, but luckily there was an aid station every mile.  After the first few miles I took gatorade and water at every mile because I could feel myself fading.
  • I found a run buddy!  I recommend doing this if its your first 70.3 or maybe you haven’t had a successful run for one of these yet.  I saw a girl that was running up ahead of me and possibly going the same pace.  So I caught up to her, introduced myself, and we ran and chatted the whole run.
  • This is the best time for you race sherpa to see you, because parking so hard at the lake, and much of the bike course is hard to get to.  Your support crew is best dropping you off at the shuttles and then getting some more shut-eye before seeing you on the run.


  • This was a great race, and possibly a PR course due to the super fast bike leg and strong crowd support on the run! I finished comfortably around 5:49, 17/83 in my age group.  I’m looking forward to coming back and dropping some time next year.  Maybe theres a podium in my future?
  • Having a race sherpa was super helpful for this one.  I don’t know what I would have done without Mason there!
  • They had my favorite post race food at the end: fresh watermelon.
  • Also its in wine country, and the race is on Saturday, so you  have all Sunday to recover with a nice glass of vino.IMG_5385

Did you race Santa Rosa 70.3?  Or do you have any questions/ something I didn’t cover?  Comment below 🙂


Happy race day



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