Frequently Asked Questions

Who produces this event?

The Auburn Triathlon is owned and produced by Tahoe Peak Endurance LLC, of Tahoe City, CA. Principals Colleen Conners-Pace, USAT Certified Race Director and  Joe Pace.  The World’s Toughest Half was started in 2002 and was the first-ever road triathlon event in the city of Auburn and the Auburn State Park.

How do I get travel information for Auburn?

Please visit the Auburn Information web page for details on Auburn lodging at host hotels and driving directions.  For places to eat. Air travel is served by the Sacramento International Airport, a 45-minute drive from Auburn and served by major rental car companies.

What is your plan for event photography?

Professional event photographers from Facchino Photography, will cover the Auburn Triathlon.  Please wear your numbers at all times during the event. This will ensure that your photograph can be properly categorized for easy ordering after the event.

Are your courses accurate?

As Rodney Dangerfield would say to Dean Martin in Back to School when asked point blank if he did his own work when suspected of cheating (he hired Kurt Vonnegut to write his English paper): “I can’t lie to you Dean…No!”

Our courses are  measured by onemillionrevolutions.org Google Earth satellite tool. However, there are slight deviations from the standard ‘advertised’ distances to account for safety and logistics factors on our routes.  Race organizers may revise existing mapped routes slightly each year based on unforeseen environmental circumstances and venue design modifications.

What are the cutoff times on the course?

We pledge to have the most generous cut off policy of any race in the sport! We want you to finish and we respect all athletes equally in their efforts. Obviously, there are some practical and legal issues to consider  when it comes to cutoff times. After years of consideration and experience, we present the following:

We would like you to proceed at a finishing pace of 8 hours, 30 minutes for the World’s Toughest Half. The International and Sprint events takes place inside the long race cutoff times, so cutoff pace is virtually irrelevant.

Cut off for T1 SWIM to BIKE:

While there is no formal cutoff time, we want everyone to start cycling one hour after final wave start or otherwise near the back of the field. We cannot support riders far behind the pack (for example, a hypothermic swimmer huddling in a blanket for 30 min, then mounting bike). If you are in distress in the water, we will pull you for your own safety. T1 is packed up and out of there by 9:00 am!

 

Cut off for T2 BIKE to RUN:

The bike finish/run start cutoff time is 5 hrs after the final wave start (~12:30 pm). Past race splits indicate that many cyclists in the rear of the pack complete the 56-mile course in ~4:30. Please feel comfortable completing the route in this time span if you register for the complete event. We will open up intersections, pull volunteers and close aid stations on pace with this arrival time. It is likely that a small number of riders will fall behind this pace. You are welcome to continue, but must obey all traffic laws (observe stop signs and signal lights).  AT T2 we will pull your chip if you come in after the cutfoff time.  At the designated cut off pace, we must pull our hard-working volunteers off the course after a long morning, and CHP/Auburn PD from intersection controls to appease the community and their traffic concerns.  So if you are out there longer than that,  just know there will be no traffic control at the intersections anymore so you must ride responsibly within traffic rules and regs and be careful.  There will be no one else out there directing traffic or you

The official race finish is 8:30 after the final wave start or ~4:00pm. We will give late starters a little cushion and send our sweep runners out ~20 minutes after cutoff. If you miss these cut-off times, we must remove your timing chip and disqualify you.

For safety and liability reasons, we cannot allow under any circumstances proceeding on course after cutoff times have been missed. We remain legally liable for your safety (regardless of pulling your chip), while you are unaccounted for in a remote state park. In years past, we have had athletes deliberately disobey race rules and repeated sweeper requests to turn back. Hence, we must strictly enforce this policy and close the run course at the appropriate time.

SWIM

What are the wave starts?

Athletes will start the Auburn Triathlon grouped by sex and/or age division and start the swim at 5-minute intervals. The respective events will start at times finalized on race weekend.

What is the swim course like?

The swim course is in the beautiful and tranquil section at the extreme rear edge of Folsom Lake (furthest away from the dam) at Rattlesnake Bar park. You will be monitored by kayakers, paddlers, and park ranger watercraft and lifeguards along the route. Slower swimmers may choose to start in the rear to avoid disturbance from attempted passings early in the swim.

What is the expected water temperature in Folsom Lake?

The main variable is the level and timing of snow melt from the Sierra that flows into the lake thru the American River which this year is going to be a lot.   We would expect the water to be colder this year and the State Parks have informed us that there will be floating debris this year anywhere from cigarette size sticks to tree trunks.  You can imagine with the massive winter we have had and the run off as a consequence.  WETSUITS WILL BE MANDATORY,  at least for the World’s Toughest Half.  Temp range is usually likely 64-73 but this year we are guessing it may be a bit cooler,  we will try to keep you posted.

Is there any current in the water

There usually isn’t much to notice  but this year may be a different story, since Rattlesnake Bar is in the upper end of Folsom where the river flows in there could be a little more current than usual.

Is Folsom Lake water clean?

At Rattlesnake Bar Park in Folsom Lake, you will swim in one of the cleanest bodies of water of any triathlon anywhere in the world. Fed by the federally designated ‘wild and scenic’ North Fork of the American River, Folsom Lake water started its journey high in the Sierra as melted snow, steadily warmed by the sun beating down upon the deep, narrow Sierra river canyons. The entire length of the American River dumping into Folsom Lake runs through federal land (National Forest, BLM or State Park), with no human population residing anywhere near it to disturb the purity.

What are the considerations for a swimmer who gets in trouble during the event?

You will be escorted throughout the swim by a series of kayakers and paddlers who each cover a particular section of the course in a back and forth sweep pattern. Also in the water will be a power boat for quick evacuation is necessary. Trained EMT personnel and lifesaving equipment will be standing by at the swim start/finish area for the duration of the swim. If you encounter any difficulty, raise your hand and a kayak or paddle board will paddle to you for assistance. You are allowed to hang onto and rest without penalty on kayaks and paddleboards as long as they do not move your forward.  We will have an ambulance on scene.

What is the Auburn Triathlon mandatory warmup rule?

There have been an alarming number of deaths during triathlon swims in recent years. From 2009 to 2012, 29 deaths were recorded in the swim portion of triathlons across the USA. There has been much speculation and little certainty about the causes of these (non-drowning) deaths, with some experts suggesting the combination of cold water, open water/pack swim anxiety, a restrictive wetsuit and the sudden exertion at race start causing extreme cardiovascular and nervous system stress leading to fatality.

In the interest of athlete safety and alleviating the anxiety of the swim event, the Auburn Triathlon has a mandatory warmup period of 10 minutes before the start of your event. All athletes must spend some time warming up in the water acclimating the body and calming the nervous system to promote a safe, successful swim. Thank you for your consideration. For further insight on this important matter, please review the discussion on the swim page by Auburn Triathlon swim safety consultant Dr. Rudy Dressendorfer, PT, Ph.D.,

BIKE

What is the course like?

The bike course offers a very challenging climb from Folsom Lake (el. 466′) up to Auburn (el. 1,300′) in the first six miles. Almost all of this climbing is at a mild grade, but with one section of steep switchbacks lasting one mile. When you reach mile 6 at Maidu Drive in the Auburn neighborhoods, your proceed through Auburn residential areas (minimal elevation changes). At mile 10, International athletes you will start climbing for 1.5 miles to the edge of town, then proceed along freeway frontage with two significant hills but minimal elevation change for seven miles, then turn back for home.

The World’s Toughest Half 56-mi course will test all of your skills, as it offers flats, long climbs, short steep climbs and roller coaster sections. This ride is universally regarded as very tough, perhaps the World’s Toughest, and very beautiful. You climb up to 2,435′ elevation in the Sierra and face significant climbs both coming and going. Total elevation gain is a little less ~6,000′. This is a safe course taking place almost entirely on rural roads with minimal traffic – only four signal lights outbound and again homebound on the 56-mile course, all controlled by CHP or Auburn PD.

Less experienced riders can feel comfortable that despite the hilly terrain, there are no dangerous descents or extremely steep climbs requiring extraordinary gearing. There is one railroad crossing that is very smooth. In the unlikely event that you are delayed by a train, record your arrival and departure time and we will subtract your delay from your official finish time.

When you approach the busy intersections in the City of Auburn, a comprehensive traffic control and auto detour plan will be enacted to ensure the safety of your ride and minimal inconvenience to residents of the community who offer such tremendous support for the event. Please exercise extreme caution when passing through busy police-controlled intersections. Police are there to ensure your safety but motorists cannot be trusted completely. Athletes in past events displayed unsafe riding behavior by not slowing down into aid stations and busy intersections. This is a long day on a hilly, challenging course so please exercise good judgement when encountering traffic or other riders.

Road bike or time trial bike?

Due to the constantly varied course terrain, a road bike is the clear choice. You will spent plenty of time in the aero position, on the long gradual up and down grades along the western slope of the Sierra, so you’ll want to have aero bars on your road bike.

What is the road surface like?

The roads are well-paved the whole way, with most of the route on superior pavement and some sections of slightly inferior pavement. All considered, the road surface will be very pleasant and safe. Special thanks is due to long-time participant Kevin Taber, Placer County Public Works Director, who facilitates custom paving and patching projects every spring along the route to maximize rider safety and enjoyment.

How severe is the climbing?

The setting for the ride in the Sierra foothills guarantees plenty of climbing both on the outbound and return portion. The major sustained climb is from Folsom Lake to Auburn (mile 0-6, rising from 466′ to 1,300′ at average 2.7%). There is a sharp 1.2-mile climb from the Bear River to Placer Hills Rd. And we musn’t forget the LeMond walked climb (so named for the 3x Tour de France champ who once trained in this area and, according to legend spraypainted on the road years ago, once had to walk up this hill) at mile 50 – .4-mile grind at 12% grade. The final bike aid station at the top of the climb will ease your pain…

What is the traffic control plan?

The roads will be open to traffic. Most of the route takes place on lightly traveled frontage roads along Interstate-80. CHP and Auburn City police will be stationed at major intersections along the route to close them to traffic and allow athletes to pass freely. Near the end of the ride in the City of Auburn, we will close a portion of Lincoln Way so cyclists can proceed without cars on the road through the downhill intersection at Highway 49 and Lincoln Way.  See above on cutoff times for details on road control.

It is highly recommended to ride with great care and caution when approaching any intersection, even it is closed to traffic. Single-file riding at all times is mandatory and USAT no-drafting rules will be in effect during the event. Vehicle traffic should not impede your race in any way, but it is crucial to remember that you are traveling on open roads at all times and keep your eye out for vehicles.

What is the location and content of the aid stations?

Visit the Aid and Support page for details

Where is a good place for my family/friends to watch the bike ride?

This is a fantastically spectator friendly race! Spectators can jump onto I-80 eastbound from Auburn and catch good action at numerous spots along the route. Click Here for complete details for how spectators can enjoy their day in Auburn.

Where is a good place for my family/friends to watch the run?

There are a few excellent vantage points on the run easily accessible by auto and foot. Visit the Spectator Tips page for details.

Will there be auto, bicycle or pedestrian traffic on the course?

The boat launch at Rattlesnake Bar will be closed to recreational boating, swimming, wakeboarding and banzai double-barrell aerial acrobatic water skiing during the swim. Due to heavy boat traffic on other days, including day before race, open water swim practice is not recommended.

The bike course is open to vehicle traffic. Detailed traffic control plan is discussed in the bike FAQ’s. Only a few hundred meters of the 7k course is technically open to traffic (Maidu Dr), but it’s very minimal with zero homes on the section. The paved roads in the State Park on the latter portion of the run (leaving Maidu Dr and entering park gate) are entirely closed to auto traffic.

REGISTRATION

Do I have to qualify to enter the event?

No. But we highly recommend that you train to prepare for the event.

What is the cutoff number of entrants?

The Auburn Triathlon will accept the first 850 entrants.

When is the entry deadline?

There is no posted deadline to enter the event, but fees increase on Jan 1st and again on April 15th. Please enter early to ensure the best value.

Do I get a refund if I can’t race?

Tahoe Peak Endurance LLC attempts to strike a balance between the harsh “No Refunds” policy customary in the endurance world and a respect for the costs involved in accommodating for no-shows and late registrations. If you can’t participate for any reason, you will receive a credit (less $50 processing fee) into the following year’s Auburn Triathlon. Please inform us by April 15th to be eligible.

Can I transfer my entry to another athlete if I choose not to race?

No.

Do I get a discount if I do your race frequently?

Tahoe Peak Endurance LLC offers discounts to those that return year after year.

Here is our deal:

  • $5 off for one to four years past entrants. f you have completed more than 5 times please contact us.

PRE-RACE

Can I practice on the Auburn Triathlon courses prior to the event?

You can swim in Folsom Lake at any time, but it is recommended you use caution any time you swim in open water. On busy weekends, boat traffic is heavy and swimming is not recommended. Always swim with a partner and choose a time and location that minimizes the risk of encountering motorized traffic. The bike and run courses are beautiful training routes. Please email if you have any further questions about training on the course.

Auburn Training Day April 30th

We offer a “dress rehearsal” so to speak for you to practice on the course to build your confidence, check your gearing, your nutrition your fitness and to become familiar with the course.  There will be a mini swim clinic by Boost Swimming followed by a swim at Rattlesnake Bar State Park,  the swim venue with water support.  A great opportunity for you to get into open water possibly for the first time of the year.  Then you can ride and run your course or part of it with light support and aid.  Courses will be lightly marked as well.  Cost is $25 to cover lifeguards, USAT sanction and other expenses.  You need to have an annual USAT membership or buy one for the day $15.00 this is separate to the day license you bought for race day.  You can purchase the training day when you register.  If you have already registered for the race you can purchase training day and a USAT day membership here.

TRAINING

What is the average training volume of a long course event participant

A survey of entrants in the 2000 Hawaii Ironman showed average weekly training volumes of 11,300 meters swimming, 232 miles cycling and 48 miles running. Eeek! This is an amazing training load for someone with a career, family or other responsibilities. (Can you say ‘obsessive/compulsive‘?). While there is a vast difference of opinion on how to best prepare for an event as daunting as the Auburn Triathlon, there are some important training guidelines that are universal for all athletes.

  1. You must approximate the challenge of the event in training
  2. You must avoid over training, burnout, injury and illness to have a successful event. These two tenets seem mutually exclusive! Indeed it is a difficult balance to prepare your body for a full-day event and not get overtired in training.
Where can I get some expert advice and guidance for how to prepare properly for Auburn Triathlon?

Event promoter Colleen Conners-Pace, Hawaii Ironman World Championship finisher, Western States 100-mile run finisher, Exercise Physiologist, Masters degree holder, and USAT certified level 1 coach, offers a comprehensive multisport coaching program that encompasses laboratory performance testing, workout planning, diet and total fitness integration, technique instruction, and 1:1 support as needed.

Visit Colleen’s Coaching Page for details.

SUPPORT

Is there a bike shop nearby?

Bicycle Emporium is our Bike Course Sponsor,  they will be there Saturday and Sunday on and off the course.

Massage

Massage Therapy: Pathways to Health – Massage Therapy center where you can get drop-in or short notice appointments. Pathways is located on the World’s Toughest Half bike course at mile 47 in tranquil Applegate, CA. As official race sponsor, they will be at the finish line.  They are happy to extend a special discount to Auburn Triathlon participants. (530) 888-6534.

MEDIA

What media will be covering the event?

Locally, journalists from the Auburn Journal, Sacramento Bee and the Gold Country Media network of community newspapers will cover the event. Nationally, the event will be covered by Inside Triathlon and Triathlete magazines. On line, Xtri.com, trifuel.com and others will cover the event.

Legendary local photographers like Michael Kirby of the Auburn Journal and Colfax Record and Kurt Bertilson of Sierra Digital Services will be shooting pitcures. Kurt also produces spectacular video highlights and interviews from race day footage.

AWARDS

All finishers will receive unique finisher medals

Awards to over all winners (non-pro) of each event – 3 deep.

Awards to the fastest male and female swimmer, rider, and runner in the WTH race

What are the age group awards and divisions?

Age Group Male and Female:

  • 15&U
  • 16-19
  • 20-24
  • 25-29
  • 30-34
  • 35-39
  • 40-44
  • 45-49
  • 50-54
  • 55-59
  • 60+ (five year increments will be formed beyond 60+ if there are sufficient entries. If not, individual winners will be recognized at five-year increments, but award depth will be limited)
  • Relays – Coed, All Male, All Female.

Awards go 3-deep in each age group in each event. Must have five participants or teams in a division to pay full dept.