You swim, bike, and run in that order to complete a sprint triathlon. The Iron-distance triathlon, however, is something very different from the simplicity of those words. On May 21, Fort Worth will host the first of three annual Iron-distance triathlons, Tri Fort Worth, encompassing a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run. A half-distance triathlon is also available, covering a relatively scant 70.3 miles.
The full-distance event starts Sunday morning at 6:45 with a dip in Marine Creek Lake. Competitors will have 140 minutes to complete the swim from the time the last swimmer enters the water. In tri-world, the swim is considered the most dangerous portion. Envision lots of competitors entering the water at once for the most overtly aggressive session of adult swim you may ever witness.
The bike ride begins on the lake’s east side, where the athletes follow Ten-Mile Bridge northwest to Texas Highway 199 and start their journey toward Chico, just northeast of Lake Bridgeport. Then the riders turn about face, heading down Highway 114 to link up with U.S. Route 287, and finishing at General Worth Square across from the Fort Worth Convention Center. Athletes have until 5:30 p.m. to spin across the second finish line.
The marathon portion of Tri Fort Worth goes through the Fort Worth Water Gardens, turning west on West Lancaster Avenue before heading into the trails system at Trinity Park. The course’s farthest point reaches Rockwood Park in River Oaks, ending downtown. Full-distance competitors must run the loop twice. The triathletes have until midnight to complete their run, leaving competitors with 17 hours to cover 140.6 miles.
As Tri Fort Worth’s corporate competitor, The Ironman is the trademarked event for which this distance is associated. Owned by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), The Ironman brand was once owned by the Hawaii Triathlon Corporation but was purchased in 1990 for about $3 million. Today, the WTC is valued at close to a billion dollars. WTC considered bringing the event to Fort Worth but eventually decided to return to the Woodlands outside of Houston.
The Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau, along with race organizer and Fort Worth fitness center Trident Sports, feels up to the challenge of hosting Tri Fort Worth with a small-town feel at a lower price point. Tri Fort Worth is run just as a WTC race would be, but registration for the full distance rings in at $485 while the WTC charges $785. That’s quite a chunk of change if your idea of endurance competition is a 5K with bottomless mimosas at the finish line. Most Iron competitors don’t blink at the entrance fees when they consider the time, money, sweat, and medical bills they invest into one of these daunting races.
A wetsuit is a necessity, less for comfort and more for buoyancy: $200. Modest swim goggles and a skullcap: $50. Tri-suit for the bike: $250. Triathlon style bike: from $1,000 all the way to “How much ya got?” Quality running shoes: $100-$200. For these base necessities and registration fees, a new competitor will spend $2,000. Aspiring triathletes likely need access to commercial gyms for pool access and cross-training, not to mention gifts for children and spouses they’ll evade during weekend training sessions. Iron-distance racing might come with a hefty price tag and a few bloody toes, but who can put a price on lifelong bragging rights?