Tackling Wildflower with Emily Cocks: Tips to help you master the course
Professional triathlete Emily Cocks shares tips and lessons she has learned racing Wildflower that will help you successfully tackle the course! Emily has competed in the Long Course race at Wildflower every year since 2011. She has finished top 10 in the women’s professional race numerous times and was first out of the water in 2014.

This is 33rd year of the storied Wildflower Triathlon, held at Lake San Antonio in southern Monterrey County, California. Due to the current drought the race has been changed to a swim/run/bike/run format. The race is still a half ironman distance, the run is just “split” into a 2.1 mile run from the swim finish to T1(b), and the second run is shortened to 11 miles, omitting the traditional out and back into “the Pit,” a part of the run that has been the site of many implosions on this extremely challenging course. However, don’t be fooled, the 2.1 mile run from the swim to your bike might be tougher than running down into the Pit. Here are a some tips to get you through the swim and run #1.

  • The swim at Harris Creek is an easy to navigate clockwise rectangle. You will start in waist deep water. Be careful here, there is a ledge where the depth of the water goes from waist deep to over your head so start swimming before you reach the end of the ledge. My advice is to scope this out at a pre-race swim on Thursday or Friday. Try and do this swim close to your race start time so you get an idea of where the sun will be while you are racing. You can pick out landmarks on the surrounding hills for sighting purposes if the sun is going to be in your eyes.
  • For your T1(a) swim to Run #1 transition you will need a pair of running shoes. These shoes should be a different from the running shoes you will use for the 11 mile Run #2. DO NOT consider doing the run to your bike WITHOUT shoes. It is hilly, rocky and sandy. You will strip off your wetsuit, throw your shoes on and head up the boat ramp to start Run #1.
  • Speaking of this ramp, it’s steep. Use your arms, take small steps and make your way up the hill. Your heart rate is going to be high. There is no way around this, everyone is huffing and puffing up this hill. In your training, hard swims followed immediately by running on the treadmill at 4-5% incline will help you prepare for this part of the course.
  • After you get up to the top of the hill the run drops down into the dry lake bed. It is rolling terrain through the lake bed and there are some sections of loose/deep sand. After making your way along the trail you will have to climb up the Lynch area boat ramp. It is not as steep as the Harris Creek ramp but is still a stinger. Remember to use your arms and stay relaxed, you are almost to your bike!
  • In T1(b) you will kick off your running shoes and resume a traditional transition to your bike. If you did not have a gel during the 2.1 mile run from the swim, make sure to get some nutrition in early on the bike. I neglected this last year and it came back to bite me at the end of the bike and the beginning stages of Run #2.
  • Finally, take a few deep breaths and get ready to climb up Beech Hill at the start the bike course. While the run to your bike is tough, at the very least you are warmed up for the first of many climbs on the 56 mile ride around Lake San Antonio. More on the bike course in my next installment….

—Emily Cocks
To learn more about Emily visit: http://emilycocks.com