Welcome to the Great New York City Triathlon—your ticket to adventure in the city that never sleeps! This event is a combination of cycling and running that takes place in the beautiful town of Watkins Glen, New York. Just 25 minutes from the city limits, you’ll be able to take a quick break from the busy city life to reenergize before hitting the Big Apple again.
With just a few weeks to go, it’s time to start preparing for what will surely be one of the biggest events of the year. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you either live in or close to New York City and have been eagerly awaiting this event since its inception. Hopefully, this article will help answer some of your questions about the race and also spur you on to get ready for it.
The Name Of The Race
If you’re not familiar with New York City Triathlon, let us enlighten you. The first triathlon in history was the Battle of the Sexes, held in 1935 in Queens, New York. It was the first time that men and women competed against each other as equals. Since then, the sport has taken over the world.
In fact, there are now more than 450 triathlons held annually all over the world, from Sydney to Vancouver and everywhere in between. What’s more is the majority of these races are held in the United States. In 2019, only 3 out of 39 of the World Triathlon Series events were not held in America. That’s around 75%!
Despite its popularity, the name ‘New York City Triathlon’ is actually a misnomer. The race takes place in Watkins Glen, New York, which is about an hour north of the city. Hence, the race is actually ‘Watkins Glen Triathlon’ or just ‘Triathlon’.
Watkins Glen Triathlon is a out-and-back race that takes place on a challenging 6.8-mile bike path. As you might expect, the majority of the cyclists will be wearing lycra in order to reduce the strain on their bodies. This is especially important for older cyclists who might be taking part in the race for the first time, as the distance and the heat can be a bit much for them. There are several options for transition sports stations along the course, so even those who don’t want to cycle should be able to cheer on their favorite competitors. The run portion is also out-and-back, and it’s around 10 miles long. Again, like the bike path, the run course is designed to present a challenge to all participants.
While the overall direction of the course is up, there are a few turns along the way that will cause you to pedal in the opposite direction. This is for the safety of the competitors and the spectators. As you might imagine, some portions of the bike path are on a steep incline, which is both challenging and incredibly scenic. There are also a few downhill stretches, which might even make you want to jump on a tandem bike and take a flying leap to the finish line.
The prizes for the top 3 males and females are as follows:
- First place – $2,500
- Second place – $1,500
- Third place – $1,000
As for the other categories, the men’s elite winner takes home $500, the men’s standard winner gets $300, and the men’s open winner takes home $200. For the ladies, the elite winner gets $400, the standard winner gets $300, and the open winner takes home $200.
It’s important to mention that all the money goes to benefit the charity of the winners’ choice. This year, the winning charities for the top 3 males and females are Docomomo Japan, Special Olympics New York, and Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
Just like the names suggest, the temperatures during the race will be quite high. Especially so for the first 2.5 miles, before the bike path levels out and the temperatures begin to cool down a bit. The air will be humid, so you’ll want to make sure you’re well hydrated. On that note, it is recommended that you bring along a fan to keep you cool. The wind will also be a factor, so make sure you bring something to block the wind. Finally, you may want to wear sunscreen, as when the sun is out, it will burn like no other. Despite the heat, you should be able to have a good time.
Who Is Racing?
As mentioned, the popularity of triathlon in general, and the New York City Triathlon in particular, can be attributed to its equal-opportunity policy. Races like this one attract a diverse group of people, which are interested in sports and pushing their limits. While the vast majority will be competitors, there will also be many spectators involved in some way. It’s great to see such a positive effect from a community-minded initiative.
In addition to the diverse crowd, the New York City Triathlon is also a fundraiser for a variety of organizations. This was particularly apparent in 2019, when the event raised more than $500,000 for charities. While on the surface, the money would seem to be going to one place, it is actually benefiting a variety of worthy causes. The organizers even go so far as to say that the money helps to provide vital services to “underserved” communities. In other words, some of the money is going to organizations that might not otherwise have enough to spend on things like food and housing. It’s a fantastic display of giving back, and it is an incredible feat to be able to pull off. Hats off to you, NYC Triathlon.
For those of you who are still needing some convincing that this race is a thing, let me give you a quick primer on where you’ll be racing and what the overall feeling is like. When you picture New York City, you probably think of skyscrapers, bustling streets, and bright lights. If you’ve ever been there, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. The streets may be crowded, the air may be thick, and there might be a lot of people around, but you’ll feel right at home.
The reverse is true for the Watkins Glen Triathlon. If you’ve never been there, let me paint a picture for you. Imagine rolling through a small, sleepy town with tree-lined streets and small-town America vibes. There are certainly a lot of cars, but it seems like a good percentage of the population might be walking or biking. The air will be fresh and smell of wood smoke. You may even see people sitting in lawn chairs, drinking beverages and watching the avidly racing cyclists go by. It doesn’t get any better than this. This was certainly how I felt when I visited the town recently and was able to attend the race. It was everything that I had hoped for and more. The ambiance was perfect, so much so that it almost hurt to have to rush back to the hustle and bustle of the city. I highly recommend visiting the town before the race in order to get a feel for what to expect. As an added bonus, you may be able to catch a bus or train to the race directly from the airport. There will be a booth there with representatives from the race, so you may want to consider making a quick stop. From the information I was given, the trip should only take an hour. Not bad at all!
As mentioned, the atmosphere at the New York City Triathlon is fantastic. This is because they do an incredible job of creating a welcoming environment for everyone involved in the event. From the time you enter the grounds until the end, the organizers have everything you could want and more. The participants, both veterans and newbies, are excited to be there and are having a good time. The spectators are also enjoying the experience, and it’s not uncommon to see them smiling and laughing. There is also an active gym and spa at the race venue, which will provide athletes with important recovery tools. As part of the Wellness program, the organizers provide all competitors with a bike mountaineering helmet, which is a great way to recover from a hard day on the bike. When you add all this up, it’s safe to assume that you’ll have a positive experience, no matter what.