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Midwesterners looking for a flat and fast tri course should look no farther than the Big Shark New Town Triathlon, set in the picturesque community of New Town at St. Charles, Mo. (located about 18 miles north of the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers). The race features an “Olympic-ish” distance and, new for 2014, a sprint distance race—the organizers expect 550-600 athletes for the longer race and 150-200 athletes for the sprint. The flat course profile allows experienced athletes to test their speed and newbies to try the sport for the first time on an unintimidating course.
The race originally started as a biathlon several years ago, then evolved into the John Howard New Town Duathlon (Howard was the 1981 Ironman world champion), and Howard even helped out with the event along with Ultramax Sports. One day, Ultramax’s owner and race director Mark Livesay “suggested we use the big, obvious lake next to our transition area and make it a triathlon,” says New Town Tri event director Mike Weiss. “It was so obvious, but we needed a nudge.”
The name “Big Shark” comes from the bicycle company that runs the race, which also has a staging and event production business. “The New Town event is an opportunity for us to use all of our own equipment and staff and execute a race for ourselves and for our community,” Weiss says. “It helps that the New Town community from an aerial view looks like it was designed to host a triathlon.”
The organizers decided to add a sprint course for 2014 because there were actually two sprint-distance races the same weekend in the area, but both used a pool swim and a recreation center for the venue. “We felt that there was definitely an interest in the sprint distance, and since the New Town course easily can be configured for a sprint and it’s a pretty non-technical, fast course, adding a beginner distance was a snug fit,” Weiss says.
Other benefits offered to locals include an Open Water Swim Series (where you can swim on the race’s exact swim course, with buoys set up and lifeguards posted), or you can be a part of the Go Big Triathlon Training Program.
What: King Orthopedic Big Shark New Town Triathlon
Where: New Town at St. Charles, Missouri
When: July 12-13, 2014
Distance: Sprint (0.4-mile swim, 15-mile bike, 2-mile run) and intermediate/“long course” (0.62-mile swim, 20-mile bike, 4-mile run)