The 32nd annual Columbia Triathlon is coming up Sunday, May 17, 2015 and will be held at Centennial Park in Ellicott City. This world-class, Olympic-distance race attracts athletes from around the world to compete in a beautiful yet challenging event that includes a .93-mile swim, a 25-mile bike ride and a 6.2-mile run.
The Columbia Triathlon is one of the longest running races in America. Having started in 1984 with just 90 athletes, it has grown to a field of 2,500. Proceeds from the event go to the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
Athletes begin the USATF-certified course in the water. Swimmers enter Centennial Lake about every 5 seconds and swim .93 miles in a counter-clockwise rectangular loop. Temperatures in this fresh-water lake in mid-May range from 65 degrees to 73 degrees.
The swim is followed by a 25-mile bike ride through the rolling countryside and farmlands of Howard County. The challenging course offers four moderate climbs along well-maintained and paved two-lane roads.
The final leg of the race is a 6.2-mile run. The course takes runners through the paces of several steep climbs, including a 12% grade.
Some of the best athletes in the world come to compete in this annual race. All-time Columbia Triathlon course records include: overall men: 1:49:11; overall women: 2:01:39.
Interested in participating? There’s still time to get in shape for the race. Even if you’re a beginner, there are some great programs online to jumpstart your training. If you decide to race, simply visit the Columbia Triathlon website to register. The field is limited to 2,500 participants. The cost is $150 per individual or $300 per relay team. All participants must be between the ages of 15 and 90 as of Dec. 31, 2014 and must be a member of the USA Triathlon organization or purchase a membership.
Keep in mind the event will be held rain or shine. Packet pickup will be held Friday, May 15 and Saturday, May 16 at Centennial Park. If you choose to pick up your packet Saturday, you can also place your bike at the transition point.
Celebrate your accomplishment after the race at the Post Race Party (for athletes only) where you can enjoy music, food and high-five your fellow competitors.
Even if you decide not to participate, you should still plan to go watch the race. The best places to watch the athletes in action are the start line, the transition areas and the finish line. Athletes and spectators should plan to arrive early. Parking is limited and the gates to the park entrance will only be open from 4:45 a.m. to 6:35 a.m. The park gates will reopen at 11:30 a.m.
Centennial Park is located in Howard County. It spans 337 acres and features a 54-acre manmade lake. The woodland and wetland ecosystems within Centennial Park make it perfect for observing birds, waterfowl, fish and wildlife.
After the race is finished, enjoy a picnic on the park grounds, or take some time to walk the 2.6-mile paved pathway that frames Centennial Lake. If you want to log a little distance, you could walk or jog the 7.3 miles of paved pathways that wind through the park and link to surrounding neighborhoods.
After a day competing in the Columbia Triathlon or watching the action, come back to The Wayside Inn, the perfect place to relax and recharge your batteries. Our Ellicott City inn offers six beautiful but quaint rooms. This circa 1780 inn offers a romantic retreat from everyday reality. Wake up refreshed and enjoy a delicious gourmet breakfast you’re sure to love.