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Wild Flower Long Course - Race Review

We reached out to Wildflower participant and Cat Ellis for a few tips on the event.

We tried our best to come up with a different description but sometimes, you just have to go with the flow. Wildflower is the Woodstock of triathlon. We were going to say Coachella but we’re not 100% sure there is enough nudity at Coachella to justify the comparison. For those of you who haven’t studied up on music history, Woodstock was a music festival that…how shall we say it…got out of hand.

Rather than call it a race, it is probably more appropriate to call Wildflower a party with three races that go on at the same time. There’s the Long Course Triathlon (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run) The Mountain Bike Triathlon (.25 mile swim, 9.7 mile mountain bike, and 2 mile run) and the Olympic Distance Triathlon (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run).

If you don’t drive to Wildflower, you’ll probably fly into either San Luis Obispo Airport (SBP) which is about 60 Miles away or Monterey Peninsula Airport (MRY) which takes about 2 ½ hours.


Lodging is limited but that’s ok since most people camp or drive an RV. Get there by Wednesday if you can to get a spot. On Friday night, it turns into a mini triathlon city with people camping all over the place - it's amazing and fantastic because everyone there is super friendly. A mass of fit bodies

The difference between Naked and “Neked”

There’s a joke that asks “What is the difference between Naked and Neked? Answer: Naked means you’re not wearing clothes. Neked means you’re not wearing clothes and you’re up to something! Be forewarned, you’ll get both at Wildflower. Yup- if you don't like it - close your eyes. There is a streaker run throughout the campground which is hilarious and CalPoly students are there to volunteer and many of them may or may not be wearing clothes at the aid stations (this is only on the long course).

Now for the Course

The Swim

 The 1.2 mile alternate Long Course swim begins at the Harris Creek launch ramp, which is close to the Lynch Festival Area. Racers will swim in a clockwise direction on a rectangular course. There are buoys and the course is well marked but the sun could come into play. You might want to consider tinted goggles. This year because of the low water level - it will be a swim / run / bike / run. so be prepared for two transitions and bring two pairs of shoes for each transition just in case

Also, this year because of the new swim start - make sure you sign up for the shuttle bus to take you to the start. It's about 2.5 miles down the road (unless you want a crazy warm up!)

The Bike

HILLS HILLS HILLS HILLS - be prepared for hills. We’re not kidding. You might want to consider changing your gearing for this course. There are climbs throughout the 56 mile course but the real killer is called Nasty Grade and it is…well… nasty. Be careful as you bomb into transition and don’t smack any trees.

The Run

The 13.1 mile run course meanders through the park and then up and over…yup…more hills. Silly, silly hills. Right when you think you’ve climbed every hill in the area, you look ahead and see…surprise! Another hill. We are of the opinion, more people have walked part of Wildflower than any other Long-Course triathlon. This isn’t a scientific observation but we think we’re right.

This, that and the other

Don’t despair after reading this review. Wildflower is popular for a reason. Here are a few more tips courtesy of Cat…

• showers - yup - cold showers in the public restrooms - until they bring in the trailer showers for Sat & Sun - which are awesome!

• It's beautiful up there - enjoy the views

• New swim course - so to each his own on that one - but the lake is usually a nice temp - still ok to wear a wetsuit

• One of the best times you'll ever have. The expo is great with bands and talks with the pros, massage and of course food vendors a plenty

• it's usually hot. really hot. stay hydrated well before race day

• you may see some wild turkeys or deer around if you get there early...they usually start to clear out when everyone comes in on Friday night before the race.

• stock up well on groceries - there is a mini camp store, but don't rely on it for all your groceries...just odds and ends - like if you forgot mustard or ketchup.