Wet and wild: The Charlottesville Triathlon Club offers weekly swimming practices. (Courtesy CTC)
If you’ve ever dreamed of fighting the vicious headwinds of Kona at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, the Charlottesville Triathlon Club can put you on the right road. As multidisciplinary competitions, triathlons usually combine running, biking, and swimming, and the amount of people participating has been on the rise in recent years. Membership in USA Triathlon—the sport’s national governing body—has surged from just under 20,000 in 1999 to nearly 150,000 today.
Locally, the CTC is intent on making it easy to help the tri-curious get involved.
“We’re continually trying to expand the sport of triathlon in the local area,” said Jim Clark, current president of the club. “Right now the scene is alive and well.”
Indeed, the triathlon club offers organized training groups most days of the week and often more than one per day. There’s a Saturday morning bike ride that leaves from local shop C’ville Bike and Tri, a Sunday morning running group that tackles the rolling Ridge Road and a Tuesday evening off-road brick that features a mountain bike ride and trail run at Observatory Hill and on parts of the Rivanna Trail.
Often the biggest deterrent for people interested in triathlons is the competitive swimming.
Since it takes a while to get used to executing your freestyle stroke in tight packs, the CTC offers weekly open-water practices at Walnut Creek Park, beginning after Memorial Day.
The club also offers occasional clinics for new triathletes and training for specific distances.
“We make it easy for people looking to get into triathlon,” said Clark. “We have plenty of veterans in the club who are more than willing to offer advice on training and racing.”
Speaking of racing, the CTC is getting set to host its annual three-race series, taking place in three consecutive months—June, July and August—this summer, all at Walnut Creek.
Charlottesville Sprint Triathlon (June 17)
Winding through the rolling terrain around Walnut Creek Park, this is the shortest event in the CTC’s annual series. It features a 600-meter open water swim, followed by a 16-mile bike ride on the country roads surrounding the park, before finishing with a 5K trail run.
Charlottesville International Triathlon (July 22)
Racers with a little more experience will be ready to step to the International distance, which consists of a 1,500-meter swim, 23-mile road ride, and a 10K trail run.
XTERRA Charlottesville (August 12)
Under the umbrella of the worldwide XTERRA off-road race series, the CTC hosts this gritty tri on the trails of Walnut Creek. It starts with a .75-mile swim, followed by an 11.5-mile mountain bike ride, and a four-mile run.
Training is often more successful when there’s strength in numbers. The CTC offers multiple training groups each week for each triathlon discipline. Membership is required to participate and a full schedule is available at charlottesvilletriclub.com. Here are a few notables.
Thursday Morning Run
Stride with the rise of the sun as the CTC leads a wake-up training run on Thursdays at 6:30am from ACAC’s Downtown location.
This beginner-friendly ride takes off Sunday mornings at 10am from the Broadus Wood School in Earlysville and promises a course that’s appropriate for cycling newbies.
Get ready for the August race at Walnut Creek with these off-road training sessions that feature an hour of mountain biking and a 45-minute trail run at O-Hill and on parts of the Rivanna Trail. The Tuesday evening group starts at 6:30pm from the Blue Ridge Cyclery bike shop on Millmont Street.