Friday, June 11, 2010

DragonFly Triathlon - Course Preview

After 20 years, the DragonFly Triathlon qualifies as a mid-south multisport tradition.  
Athletes descend on Sardis Lake in northern MS every June to take on the
1/2 mile lake swim, the nearly flat 18 mile bike course and the unique 4 mile road/ trail run.  
The venue at Cypress Point Beach on the lower lake below the dam is an ideal setting.  The race has the entire Cypress Point area reserved which includes a playground, sand beach swimming area and picnic tables.  It is a great race for the family and kids to enjoy.  

Start2Finish offers three packet pick up options before race day:
Thursday at RBs Cyclery in Memphis
Friday at BikesPlus in Germantown.
Friday at the race site.  Here are the details:  Packet Pickup.    I highly recommend getting your packet before Saturday to save time and congestion on race morning.

The 1/2 mile swim in Sardis Lake is a square that requires two right turns.  Keep the buoys on your right as you make your way around clockwise.   With three or four wave starts the congestion is usually not too bad.  The start is in waist deep water.  There is a long 300 yd stretch before the first turn so there is plenty of time for the field to spread out.  The water quality is typical of a southern fishing lake.  A bit on the brown, muddy side but not "dirty".   Water temps?  You can count on warm bath-like water.   However, a few years back the Corps of Engineers released water from the dam in the days leading up to the race and the swim was actually wetsuit legal... in June.. in Mississippi. 
You exit onto the sand beach and run a hundred yards up a slight incline to transition.  The transition area is in the grass so bring a towel if dirty, sandy feet are going to bother you in your shoes.
Transition Area
The bike course only has five turns and a few hills so if the wind cooperates it can be very fast.  The bike starts out on the (newly paved!) one mile stretch of Cypress Point Drive that leads to the park exit.  It is pancake flat so getting up to speed should be  no problem.  The road dead ends at Highway 35. 

(Caution: The park exit requires a nearly 180 degree right turn to head west on Hwy 35.)

After a flat stretch on Hwy 35 you take a right on Belmont Rd at the 5.5 mile mark.  
Following a few sweeping "S" curves you will encounter the hilly portion of the course. 

It begins with one big hill at mile 6.5 that is steep and covers at least a half mile.  

The course rolls a bit for another mile until you reach the turnaround. 
(Caution: the turnaround sits at the bottom of a very slight hill.  Watch your speed and make sure you are in the correct gear as you exit the turnaround and climb back up the hill.) 
You will fly back down the big hill as you make your way back towards Hwy 35.  Once you make the left back onto Hwy 35 you have less than six miles back to transition.   Again you have the 180 degree left turn back into the park and the one mile stretch of Cypress Point Drive.  The run course covers this same stretch of road so there is ample opportunity to size up your competition and cheer on your friends. 

When you exit T2 you follow the same one mile stretch of Cypress Point Drive that you used on the bike.  The first aid station is near the one mile mark just before Hwy 35.
Cross Hwy 35 and veer to the left you will be in the grass headed for the woods.

One of the unique features of DragonFly is that half of the run is on trails.   After a few hundred yards on the grass you reach the trail head for Sandstone Trail.  It is a beautiful, well-maintained trail... but it is not flat.  Not even close.  

As soon as you hit the trail it begins a half mile climb that will get the attention of your heart rate.  Aid station #2 awaits at the top where the trail splits.  Take the right split at the aid station and begin a long gradual downhill counter-clockwise loop. 

When the trail takes a sharp left over this wooden bridge you will be headed back towards the finish. 

The trail flattens for a half mile and crosses a series of wooden bridges.  (Caution: If the bridges are damp they can be slick!)

The end of the loop leads you up another steep climb back to the aid station at the trail split.  Turn right at the aid station and now, depending on your heart-rate and aggressiveness, you can bomb back down to the trail head.

(Caution: there will be two-way traffic on this narrow stretch of trail.  Do your best to yield enough room for others to pass in both directions.)  
Once you reach the trail parking lot you run back across the grass, cross Hwy 35, pass aid station #4 and begin the one mile stretch of Cypress Point Rd that you have already seen three times.  
If it is sunny this will be the hottest stretch of the race due to the lack of shade. 

The Finish & Post Race
When you finally make it back to the transition area you still must make a counter- clockwise loop around the transition area to reach the finish line.

Post-race there is usually plenty of water and food to enjoy while you wait on the awards.  Bring a chair or blanket and find a spot under the trees to hang out and relax.


  1. Kevin,
    Great descriptions! I don't feel blind going into it.


  2. Thank you for the details...I am now nervous...Hope I can make that not so flat run on the trail! :)

  3. Excellent preview Kevin! Being new to the area I was very concerned, now i'm just intimidated and excited :)

  4. i didn't know there were so many long hills on the run part!! I am nervous and hot already!!!

  5. Wow Gonna be a hot one!! Can't wait!

  6. Clarification, anyone....

    Is there an area where kids can swim while the race is in progress?

    I am concerned about my little guys in this heat for an extended period.

    Thanks for any insight you have......

  7. yes, as soon as the racers are out of the swim the beach area is open for swimming....

  8. Thank you, that was great!

  9. Excellent preview! How many porta potties are there on the bike and run route and where are they located? Also are pets allowed in the park?

  10. Porta-potties? Park bathroom and adequate supply of porto-potties at the park/ transition area. None on the bike course. There is a park bathroom at the trail-head that you pass twice. Mile 1.5 and again at mile 2.75.
    Pets? yes.