Spoiler alert: I highly recommend the SheROX San Diego sprint and super sprint triathlons and I suspect the rest of the SheROX triathlon series is fabulous as well. I’ve done this race twice and I enjoyed it both years.
Registration: I registered early in March for the race in October, and paid $83.25 for the sprint.
Expo: You need to make three stops when you enter the outdoor expo — packet pickup, body marking, and t-shirt and goody bag pickup. I love the v-neck style technical shirts I’ve gotten both years, although the super bright pink this year is a little bold for me.
It’ll make a good safety shirt when I ride the bike because people will have no trouble seeing me in that thing! There were several booths selling technical shirts, triathlon tees, wetsuits and swimsuits. Luna Bars gave away samples of their flavors, free crispy bars for the kids, and posters for the kids to make race signs. Last year the San Diego sheriffs department was out recruiting at the expo! Love that!
Parking: Parking at South Shores Park is convenient, close, and plentiful for both the expo and the race. On race day it closes at 6:30 before the 7 a.m. start of the race.
Location: You can’t beat the location in San Diego, right next to Seaworld, at South Shores Park on Mission Bay. This makes a great destination race with plenty of nearby restaurants and attractions.
Hotels: The Hilton San Diego Resort and Spa is less than five minutes from the race start. It’s a lovely hotel, not super-deluxe but nice for the $152 per night group rate. Tip: request a first floor “villa gardenview” room rather than a room in the tower. If you don’t mind being on the ground floor, it’s amazing to open your door to the patio and gardens and have a view to Mission Bay.
Transition: Transition gets an A+. Well set up and well marked, with bright yellow signs on the racks for the wave numbers, and clearly marked BIKE IN and BIKE OUT etc. banners.
Swim course: I love the in-water start on the swim course. Once you’re allowed to enter the water, be sure to swim out to the start line or you might not make it in time before the starting horn! The water in Mission Bay has been calm both years. It’s saltwater and a little murky, but it’s not exceptionally cold and it makes for a great swim course. It can be challenging to follow the buoys for the sprint vs. the super-sprint, but the race organizers do something very helpful — they send a boat out to demonstrate the course right before the race. Even with that though, I watched one of the elite triathletes one year turn left at the super-sprint buoy rather than continue on to the sprint buoy. (It’s comforting to know even the pros make mistakes sometimes!)
Bike course: The bike course takes you out on Fiesta Island. It can be intimidating due to the some of the turns on the course and I highly recommend going out on the island either on bike or in car to preview the course. Just make sure if you’re doing the sprint that you make the turn to the right to go out toward the campground. The course map has not shown that little turn each year. The course is flat with only the slightest of hills here and there. I do not like that the course requires two loops on the island (it can be intimidating to beginners to have to remember that) but the signage and volunteer direction is good.
Run course: Again, two loops on the run for the sprint. Nice course along the bay though and not hilly. You pass the one aid station twice over the run.
Vibe: Because it’s an all-women event, it gives off a great all-for-one and one-for-all vibe that’s welcoming to beginners. Indeed, the race site says that about half the participants are new to the sport. I have always found triathletes male or female to be a helpful, generous bunch and that’s certainly in evidence at SheROX events. There is a mentor program where experienced athletes pair with beginners to offer advice and support via email and additional training opportunities. My sponsor Megan helped me tremendously by answering my questions, giving me tips, and meeting up with me on race day to get me settled in transition.
I also love that SheROX partners with the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund as its official charitable partner. Team Hope participants can raise funds in support of OCRF. The race even offers a special wave for cancer survivors. Makes me cry every time when we cheer those ladies at the start.
Finally, SheROX San Diego is a great spectator course — it’s relatively easy for family members and friends to catch sight of you on each portion of the course.
Post-race: One of the best things SheROX offered was a warm hand towel to dry off after the race. I’d never seen that before (not even at the race in 2011) and I hope they keep that feature! The food offered after the race is plentiful and good: bananas, oranges, two kinds of muffins, juice boxes and electrolyte water. I love that you can go straight to the race booth to get a computer printout with unofficial times.
Ways to improve the race: While I love this race and highly recommend it, there’s always room for improvement. I have four suggestions for the race organizers. (1) Invite food trucks to race day so family and friends can snag breakfast or a snack while they spectate. (2) Correct the bike course map to show the slight turn to the right out toward the campground on Fiesta Island. Without that marked, people previewing the course go straight instead of turning right at the Y in the road. I heard women during the race saying, “We didn’t practice this before!” (3) At the swim start, you’ve got to enforce the starting line. Make the women stay in line with the white buoy under threat of disqualification if they “drift” out past the start. It’s ridiculous to see athletes cheat by going up to 10 feet ahead and blocking the athletes at the starting line. (4) In 2012 with the rain, the bike course was wet. As I stopped at the dismount line I saw two women fall as they were physically stopped by race volunteers. Volunteers grabbed the bikes to stop them at the line, and the bikes slipped right from under the women. As an athlete, I’d rather be disqualified or penalized for crossing the dismount line than physically injured on a fall from the bike.
Conclusion: Love the race, highly recommend it, would do it again. Thanks SheROX!