Mighty Moraine Man Fall Sprint Tri Race Review

This race has been going on in my backyard (well, almost) for a few years now, and I finally got around to racing it!  I’ve heard lots of good things about this race and was excited to race my first sprint race since 2007.  One of the perks of a close-to-home race was avoiding the cost of a hotel and getting a good night’s sleep at home.  The race offers packet pickup on race morning, which made race logistics quite easy.  We woke up at 5am, left the house around 6am, and were at the race site shortly before 7am.  Plenty of time to grab my packet, set up transition, and do a quick warm-up swim.
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The Mighty Moraine Triathlon is set in Moraine State Park, about 45 minutes north of Pittsburgh.  This race is offered several times per year, in different formats (currently Spring & Fall sprint distance, mid-summer Sprint and Olympic), and is a fun course for all levels of athletes.
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Swim:  The swim (400m) takes place in beautiful Lake Arthur (isn’t the above picture soooo pretty?! I could sit by the lake all day…). Athletes start by standing in waist-deep water and the course is a straight-forward rectangular shape (turns are right-turns and buoys stay to your right).  No waves, no chop.  Visibility was pretty typical for a lake swim; ie, pretty low.  The water temperature for the mid-Sept race this year was 74 degrees, wetsuit legal.
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Bike:  The Moraine sprint bike course is usually 13.6 miles, but for this event, it was shortened to 11.5 miles for this race.  The shortening cut out a few of the hills.  I think the best way to describe this course is gently rolling to hilly, with very few true flat sections.  There are a few nice straight sections that were great for using aero bars.
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Run:  The run (5k) is on a paved trail that roughly follows the lake shoreline.  Similar to the bike course, it is rarely a true flat, but has lots of small undulations and no prolonged hills or steep grades.  Most of the run was shaded, which was nice.  It is an out & back course, which was nice for seeing where you are relative to the field, and also for high-fiving and cheering on friends and fellow athletes as you’re running.
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Good for newbies?  Yes.  The volunteers were fabulous, the course was straightforward and well marked, and there is even a special “Novice Wave” that goes off last.  Overall, it’s a smaller race and people spread out fairly quickly on the swim and bike, yet due to the out & back nature of both bike and run courses, you’re always seeing other athletes to stay motivated.  As long as you’ve trained on some hills around Pittsburgh, you’ll be fine on this course.
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Variety is the spice of triathlon:  There were quite a few offerings for this race: sprint tri, sprint tri relay, aqua bike (swim-bike), duathlon (run-bike-run), super sprint tri (200 m swim, 5 mile bike, 1.5 mile run), adventure race (kayak instead of swim), and even a reverse super sprint tri.
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YUM:  Moraine had a generous spread of post-race food, including hot dogs, veggie chili, burgers, bananas, cookies (oh so many cookies), and other snacky things.
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Thumbs up to this local race!

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