Tammie and I were planning a summer road trip to Salt Lake City to visit our son, and I naturally consulted TriFind to see if we might choose a weekend that included a local race. July 10th and the Echo Triathlon fit the bill. The race offered Olympic and Sprint distances and was USAT sanctioned; we both signed up for the Olympic.

The race venue is Echo Lake which is about 45 minutes east of Salt Lake and sits at an elevation of 5500 feet. It was put on by TriUtah and was very well organized. The elevation meant it would be cooler, which was welcome news in the middle of this western heat wave. It also meant racing at altitude, which I normally tolerate pretty well.

Like most lakes these days, the water level was much lower than normal, maybe 20 feet down from the last time the race happened in 2019. This made for a long-ish trail run up to T1 but also made for something much more challenging: Mud. I’ve seen a lot in 33 years of racing but never have experienced a swim like this one. From the rolling start arch to the edge of the water was maybe 30 feet of ankle deep, squishy mud. But that was just the appetizer. From there you had to “run” all the way out to the first buoy before the water was deep enough to start swimming. The mud under the water was much softer so instead of ankle deep it was more like mid-calf deep. The aerobic toll from this was dramatic and I quickly felt the altitude and was nearly hyperventilating. After finally reaching water deep enough to swim, I had to just relax and slow my stroke down and take it easy for a while to get my breathing under control. It was a two-loop swim and while you didn’t have to fully exit the water between loops, there was another long section of mud-running before being able to swim the second loop. On the way back in the water was about knee to thigh deep for quite a while and I kept trying to swim but my hands just kept dragging through the mud. Then I finally got the idea to try backstroke and it actually worked great since you need much less water. I couldn’t sight but there were a couple of people behind me “running” in and I just watched their faces and was able to navigate straight in to the swim finish. My time for the swim was 26:07 (Strava says 1:28 per 100 yards) which was first in my age group and 16th in a field of 155.

With that adventure complete it was on to the bike which was thankfully uneventful. The course was out and back and mostly climbed at maybe 1 to 2% to the turnaround which meant a fast return. It was pretty scenic and paralleled I-80. But I never look at scenery during a race so it didn’t really matter to me. I had to keep the effort down to keep my breathing under control but my legs felt great the entire ride. I finished in 1:09:20 (21.6 mph), first in my age group and 20th overall.

I felt pretty good starting the run which was on a mostly gravel rail-trail and was remarkably flat considering we were in the mountains. It was out and back and climbed very gently up to the turnaround. I stayed pretty steady the entire time and finished in 46:52 (7:33 per mile), first in my age group and 33rd overall. There were only nine ancient fossils in my age group and I was pleased to win the category by about 8 minutes. Tammie had some stiff competition and finished 4th in her age group. The event was professionally produced, well organized, and I would definitely do a TriUtah race again given the opportunity.