Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mightymite Triathlon - course preview

After 30 years the Mightymite Triathlon has evolved into a highly-rated sprint distance event.  From it's grassroots beginnings as an event put on by the City of Forrest City, AR  to being rated one of the "Top 50 Races in North America" by Inside Triathlon, Mightymite caters to the beginner as well as the competitive triathlete.   There is a unique awards structure that dates back to the 80's and the days of big "pageant-sized" trophies.  Overall awards go 10 deep in addition to the typical Masters and Age-Group divisions.  There is also a Beginners division for athletes who are new to the sport.  The good news (or bad depending on your affinity for big 3' trophies) is that Start2Finish offers great merchandise prizes these days.   
Tip: get your packet early to save time on race morning! Start2Finish offers several opportunities for early packet pickup: Thursday at Bike World in Collierville, TN & Breakaway Running in midtown Memphis. Friday at East Arkansas Community College.  Click here for the complete schedule:  Packet Pickup

One of the challenges of racing Mightymite, in addition to the hills and heat is... the logistics.  It is a point-to-point course.  You start 13 miles north of Forrest City in Village Creek State Park and bike to East Arkansas Community College.  From T2 you run 3 miles to the finish in the middle of town.    Sounds easy right?  It is if you pay attention.  

Tips for managing the logistics...
  • Arrive early.  Since you have two transition areas to set up allow plenty of time.  
  • First stop is East Arkansas Community College, exit 242,  I-40 & Hwy 284.  You cannot miss it.   This is T2, the bike-to-run transition area.  Leave your run gear: shoes, number belt, hat, whatever you need for the run.  
  • Then drive 13 miles north to the state park.  This is the location of the swim and T1, the swim-to-bike transition area.   This is where you will set up your bike gear.   
  • Remember, the race ends 16 miles away in town.   Stuff any personal belongings from the start (clothing, goggles, etc) in the race-provided bag and they will transport it to T2 for post-race pickup.  
  • There will be bus shuttles at the finish to transport you back to the start where your car is parked.  If you do not wait too long there is ample time to get your car (don't forget to stop and get your bike at EACC) and get back to the awards ceremony. 
  • This can all be solved if you have the luxury of having someone accompany you to the race who is not racing and can drop off and pick up.  

OK, phew.... now that we have solved the logistics... let's race!

Swim:  The swim in Lake Dunn is a time-trial start. The course is a square with two right turns.  Expect the water to be warm and calm.

Swimmers line up on the boat ramp and enter one at a time.  Pay attention because it goes by faster than you think.  Swim straight out to the first buoy and turn right.  
Take another right turn at the second buoy and head to the exit boat ramp.  
There is a steep 150 yd.climb up the boat ramp to the transition area.
After exiting T1 the bike course offers a nice gradual downhill for the first 1/2 mile.  Caution: just before mile 1 there is a steep downhill with a right turn at the bottom.  The course then flattens out for a half mile.  
Heads up:  At mile 1.5 you take a right turn and face a short steep hill that catches many cyclists by surprise.  It is not uncommon to see people walking their bike on this hill.  It is completely manageable if you are in the correct gear.  

Once you get up this steep pitch the course levels off a bit but it still presents a gradual  incline all the way to the park exit.  Don't spoil your race by pushing too hard in the park.  Once you exit the park, at mile 2.5, you are headed due south and can put the hammer down.    
There are no more steep climbs once you exit the park but it is always rolling up or down. You can stay in the aero position for almost the whole ride.  

"Hillbilly Heaven" offers a unique, local shopping experience.  It sits just past the halfway point on the bike!
This bridge lets you know that there is one mile to go and it is a steady climb all the way to T2 at East Arkansas Community College. 
You will enter T2 from the north, rack your bike (where you left your run gear earlier!) and exit on the south end up the short set of stairs towards the school buildings.  
Wind your way through the campus for a 1/4 mile before exiting onto Newcastle Rd.
Soon after running under the I-40 overpass... start the first of a series of climbs that begin at the .75 mile mark and...
... continue to the 1.5 mile mark.  Once you pass Calvary Christian High School you have reached the "top"...
... and get a nice gradual downhill to the 2 mile mark.  
Newcastle Rd dead ends into Arkansas Street.  Take a right and a quick left onto N. Forrest.  
N. Forrest is a straight, tree-lined residential street that would seemingly carry you right to the finish line.  In fact, when you crest the final incline the finish is directly in front of you on N. Forrest.  You get within 100 yds of the big orange banner! Oh, but the sadistic race directors added a cruel twist.  
You are forced to turn right and make a nearly 1/2 mile detour around the block before returning to N. Forrest and the finish line.  

Mightymite caters to everyone.  The newbie triathlete gets to compete against other beginners on a short course with tremendous support and professional race management.  It also offers a great test for the competitive triathlete.  It is short enough to demand a red- line effort but the hills and heat certainly make it a challenge to get one of the coveted Top 10 spots.  


  1. Do you think a strong rider (sub-1-hour 40km time trial, 5:00 Ironman bike split) needs the 23-tooth ring for the initial steep climb? Could it be done in something like 54x21 instead of 54x23? Larger rider but good climber for size.

    I still have the 11-23 cogset on the disc wheel after Buffalo springs, but usually would do a short race with 11-21.

  2. Tom... as a strong and experienced cyclist you should have NO problem with the short steep hill. Just know it is there and be in the correct gear. The problems arise when people get caught in the wrong gear after making that right turn. See you there! Have a great race.

  3. Tom,

    The climb at Forrest City is about equal to the first climb directly out of the transition at Buffalo Springs. I did Buffalo Springs in 2009. Other than this one climb, it is a pretty fast bike course. Hope that this helps a little.

    Eric DeYampert

  4. Coach Kevin-Thanks for the great preview!

    Lloyd Crawford

  5. Will there be assistance for the swim in the form of boats or canoes?

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