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Bluff Creek Triathlon: Christian's Report

by Christian Baughman, Kyle’s Bikes 2014 Triathlon Team

Christian Baughman runs through the trees at Bluff Creek Triathlon

Bluff Creek Olympic
1500 m Swim, 40 km Bike, 10 km Run
Don Williams Park, Boone County, Iowa
August 10, 2014

This was another new race for me with the Kyle’s Bikes/Discount Tri Supply team. The Bluff Creek Triathlon takes place in Don Williams State Park, just North of Ogden and South of Pilot Mound. The latter town is still riding its fame of being home of “Twister Hill” from the epic midwestern storm-chaser film of several years back. I’d ridden Twister Hill once on RAGBRAI a few years ago, and all I remembered is that it was a comparative monster of a climb compared to what we’d been doing that day or week. So a week before the race, when Coach Julie instructed “ride a hilly route,” I loaded the SHIV and did a little scouting ride of the race course.

That little trip made race morning much easier: I just followed my breadcrumbs back to the park and had my pre-race timing down pat. After a nice reverse warm-up we loaded a shuttle bus for the trip across the lake to swim start. This was my first race in the wetsuit this year and the conditions were borderline: 75 degrees race morning. But since the Olympic swim approaches one mile, many competitors chose to suit up.


I’ve been working for about a month on some form and cadence adjustments in my swim stroke and I really feel good in the pool. However, once the race started I felt the same slow and steady swim pace I’ve been locked into since my Ironman last fall. That was good enough for a 36:16 swim, which is a 2:12/100. Garmin had me at a 1:55/100 which would be really good for me. Either way, with a little distance between the event I don’t feel so bad about the result.

T1 was a respectable 51.9 seconds. Pretty good considering I hadn’t worn a wetsuit since early June.


Christian bikes out of the parkOn the bike I was still fuming a bit over my swim so I put some watts in early. My strategy was to go for high Zone 3 output for everything but the climbs in and out of the Des Moines River Valley. The SHIV equipped with a Zipp 404 front and 808 rear translated that effort into 21.2mph average which was good enough for the eighth quickest bike of the day.

T2 again was respectable at 47.6 seconds. I still haven’t quite been able to get into the Sauconys as fast as my old tri flats, but they feel very comfortable on the run. They have served me well this season.


The run at Bluff Creek is not flat. You start up a little section of grass, then a gravel path, then another grass path cut through the trees, a bit more gravel, and then you’re on the campground road. That section is pretty cool. The campground road gets a bit tiresome with rolling hills down to the dam and back out as part of a section the Olympic athletes have to travel twice.

This was where, perhaps, putting too much out on the bike caught up with me. I ended up with the 5th fastest run, but a disappointing for me 45:14.7. Yes, I did get “chicked”: Jennifer Vande Vegte of Sioux Center simply burned up the run course with the fastest run of the day and passed me for an overall win too. Coach says that’s the last time that will be acceptable.


Christian got 2nd in his age group at Bluff Creek TriathlonI also think I wasn’t hungry enough. Literally. I still have an Ironman mindset when it comes to nutrition and I think I’ve been putting too many calories in pre-race and during the bike. After the race I measured out my extra water and Skratch left on the bike and found I had been carrying 3 cups of extra water. That’s way too much extra weight and should be an easy fix for Hy-Vee.

All in all, it was a really valuable shake-out race leading up to the Hy-Vee Triathlon at the end of the month. I did come away with my second age group podium of the year (2nd place M35–39) and a nice mug that holds recovery drinks really well!

Thanks to Kyle’s Bikes and DiscountTriSupply.com for another great new experience. And cheers to my KB-DTS teammates Scott Carkhuff, Andy Bernholtz, Shawn Blaesing-Thompson, and Laura Miller for awesome podium finishes of their own! We certainly brought home the glassware!

Christian uses his triathlon training to encourage charitable contributions. "The charity I’ve picked for Bluff Creek is Impact Missions Worldwide. Recently Iowa Public Radio’s Rob Dillard profiled the founder Salome Nengean. This heartbreaking story about her experience with violence in Nigeria inspired her to act to counteract the poverty of the region. Please consider joining me in making a donation to Impact Missions Worldwide."

Full results from Bluff Creek Triathlon are online at True Time Racing.

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Katherine is our Content Champion. She has done triathlons in the past, and now focuses on mountain biking and long-distance gravel riding. She still has a soft spot in her heart for weird multi-sport events like indoor triathlon and aquabike. She also teaches indoor cycling.

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