If you’re going to be swimming, biking, and running for miles (up to 70.3 miles, to be exact), you might as well do so in the Texas Hill Country and take in the most scenic views around.
The Kerrville Triathlon is a picturesque swimming, biking, and running event. Annually, it offers distances for athletes of all levels and abilities. The event spans a full fall weekend, with shorter-distance races on Saturday and longer races on Sunday. Here’s what you can expect from “The Most Scenic Tri in Texas.” The next event is September 24-25, 2022, so start training now! (You’ll find training tips at the end of this article.)
The swimming portion of the Kerrville Tri takes place in Nimitz Lake, with buoys placed to map the route. Where you’ll find yourself in trouble here is if you have only trained in a swimming pool. In a pool, you see exactly where you are going. In a river or lake, you see hazy green nothingness. To get your bearings straight, you’ll have to cock your head up like a turtle from time to time. This can be tough to do when other people’s extremities are swatting or fluttering all around you.
And, your fellow competitors’ high-velocity freestyle strokes will create waves that make it hard to take a breath without gulping in river water. All of this comes as no surprise to those who train with groups in open water swimming. The key is to practice under these conditions so that when the event comes, you’re not blindsided. Struggling in open water swim is inevitable, but panicking is optional. Practice is the panacea for panic.
Most triathletes agree that the swim is the most challenging of the three parts of a triathlon. If you learn to survive in the face (ahem, kicks) of adversity, you gain an edge from the start.
The swim will test you, but it’s a rite of passage to be able to do the next event: the bike ride. The ride in the Kerrville Tri is epic. Heading south out of Kerrville on your bike, you’ll meander through the Hill Country’s finest rural roads. You’ll see signs to places that you’ve only heard of in Charlie Robison songs. The scenery all around looks like it belongs on a postcard. If you’re not looking to podium here (note: in the Kerrville Tri, there’s no money on the line), take your time and enjoy God’s country. Your finisher’s belt buckle medal will be the exact same as everyone else’s.
The crowning achievement for the Kerrville Tri is a run out-and-back down the Kerrville River Trail. Fully-paved, the trail borders the Guadalupe River. The course is mostly surrounded by trees but, early and late in the event, you’ll see a playground, a splash pad, and, finally, the finish line!
After cycling, your legs will feel like live oaks — stiff, stubborn, and nearly impossible to move. For this reason, the run distance will feel twice as long as it actually is. The nice thing is, this is where you can finally converse with fellow athletes. You’ll hear “nice job” and “doing great” from passers by. By this point in the game, patronizing may keep you going even though the needle of your gas tank is on E.
The Finish Line
At the end of the run, you’ll break through a finish line to a highly supported afterparty, compliments of H-E-B and Pint and Plow Brewing Company. Furthermore, you can flush your tired legs out in the river.
In 2019, High Five Events, the organizers of the Kerrville Tri, executed a plan to encourage athletes to jump in the river and float in an inner tube post-race. They gave branded pool floats to all participants. The initiative was so well-received that it is now an annual tradition. The fun float finish may be partially responsible for record-breaking participation in the Kerrville Tri in 2021 — over 1,800! Including spectators, over 5,000 people came to Kerrville for the 10th Annual 2021 Kerrville Triathlon. We’re pretty sure they can accommodate one more next year — you!
How to Register for 2022 Kerrville Tri
Registration is open for the 2022 Kerrville Tri, September 24-25, 2022.
First-timers typically start with a Rookie triathlon. Seasoned athletes may opt for longer challenges, like a Quarter (1,000m swim, 29-mile bike, 6.55-mile run), Half (1.2 mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1 half marathon run).
How to Train
Triathlon training groups offer expert coaching and camaraderie. Joining a training club will give you confidence in your skills with group open-water swimming, help you hone your cycling skills while avoiding collisions on the road, and may improve your running performance. A quick Google search should pull up a tri training group in your area.
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Cover photo courtesy River Trail Cottages
Brook Benten Jimenez, M.Ed. participated in the 2021 Quarter Kerrville Tri, her first triathlon in 18 years. Although she was fatigued after the swim and bike events, she trekked every step of the run, missing her children, and wishing she was pushing “Bertha,” her Double B.O.B jogging stroller. At home in Georgetown, TX, Brook goes on regular “Bertha jogs,” with her kids where everybody has their role: Hayes (8) is the DJ🎵; Julie Anna (4) is the snack lady🍌; and Brook (Mom) is the stroller-pushing runner🏃🏻♀️.