Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review of the Mermaid Series Duathlon/Triathlon

There’s nothing fishy about the Mermaid Series’ Duathlon/Triathlon.  

On June 9, 2012, I participated in my first duathlon in Oakland and it was a great race. This event provided an easy-going atmosphere for newbie and seasoned athletes looking to impress their family and friends with their athleticism.  No frills here except for serious physical action.

Here’s my review of the Mermaid Series Duathon:

The sunshine and cool weather greeted athletes from all over the Bay area. It was a perfect day for a duathlon with its light breeze and 58 degree weather that gradually warmed up to about 70 degrees.

Free parking!  I love it.  What’s even better is that parking was easy to find and plentiful.  I got to the event at 6AM and was able to park inside the Harbor Bay Ferry Terminal parking lot.  There are only 150 spaces and it’s on a first come, first serve basis.  If you get there between 6 and 6:30AM, you should have no problem finding a space in the lot.  Otherwise, you can easily park in the residential areas which are very close to the venue.

There were several options for packet pick-up: Thursday at the Sunnyvale Sports Basement, Friday at the Hampton Inn in Oakland, or on the morning of race day. 

I chose to pick up my packet on race day and arrived at 6AM, which is the time the registration and transition area opens.  Picking up my packet was a breeze.  There were no lines.  In fact, I don’t think it ever got crowded.  So there was plenty of time to browse through my envelope and prepare for the race.

The transition area also opened at 6AM.  And even if I entered the transition area half an hour after opening, I was still able to get a good spot for my bike. The area was well marked, fenced off, and guarded by volunteers.  It was easy to get in and out of the area without getting in anyone’s way.

There were about 10 in all plus a public restroom, which to me is a luxury.  The good thing is that washing stations, complete with soap and paper towels, accompanied the porta potties- another luxury item.  Although there seem to be few stalls, long lines was never an issue.

Run:  The flat out-and-back route outlined the harbor with views of the San Francisco cityscape.  The course was a paved recreational trail closed off for the event.  Due to the wave starts, congestion was not an issue. 

Bike:  The bike route was a nice ride in and out of the Ferry Terminal with tree-lined roads and a few office buildings.  My biggest complaint is the road condition.  It was awful.  I spent my energy dodging cracks and finding less rocky areas to ride on for fear that I would get a flat tire.  In preparation for the race, I made sure my tires were fully inflated for speed, which turned out to be a nuisance.  I could feel every bump and crack in the road.  If I knew it was going to be this bad, I would’ve brought my mountain bike instead! 

The interesting thing about the schwag was that there was no bag.  Instead, it’s called the “virtual bag” that you receive online.  Mermaid sends you an e-mail with a “virtual bag” link, which directs you to all sorts of store coupons.  I guess it’s a good thing, because I sometimes hate receiving coupons and event postcards in my goody bag.  It makes a lot of trash.  The virtual bag is more earth friendly.  But it would be nice to get a real bag…with some edible treats…but leave the coupons in the e-mail.

At packet pick-up I received a nice grey t-shirt tailor-made for women.  The fitted shirt had a nice soft feel to it.  It’s become one of my favorite race shirts.

Finishing line:
Since this event was small in numbers, there wasn’t too much fanfare at the finish.  But since it wasn’t crowded, I heard the announcer call my name as I crossed the finishing line.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard an announcer call out my name in all the races I’ve ran so that was special. 

At the finishing line, young volunteers handed silver pouches to finishers.  In the pouch was a necklace, which I thought was pretty cool.  I’d describe it as urban-chic.  It’s a 2-pendant necklace engraved with the words:  WORK IT.  LOVE IT.  TRI IT.  DU IT.  It’s contemporary, stylish, and sporty.  It definitely defines the duathlon/triathlete.

Muffins, bananas, grapes, strawberries, orange juice and get this…
chocolate chip pancakes lined the buffet table.  It was yummy!  Also in the post-race arena were my favorite vendors: Popchips, Zico, and Luna bars.

There were also 3 masseuses there for your pleasure.  Again, since this was a small race, the wait list was not long at all.  You can sign in, eat, browse the vendors, and then get the massage you deserve.

I was grateful for the photo booth they offered at the event.  This was my first duathlon and I wanted to capture it, but due to circumstances my family wasn’t able to attend and I decided to leave my camera at home.  The photo booth was a fun way to capture your achievement with chalkboard-style flowers you can hold up with words of your choice (i.e. I did it!  Rock Star.  My first Tri!).  And they have it set up so that you can immediately notify your family or friends on Facebook, Twitter, or via e-mail.

The Mermaid Series Facebook page offered video tips that helped me tremendously.  It showed me what to expect at race day.  So when I got to the event site, I knew exactly what to do, where to go, and how to set up my gear at the transition area.  I highly recommend reviewing all the videos they offer to help make your first multisport event go as smoothly as possible.

I have to mention that there were a few unhappy people at the end of the day. For some unknown reason, some participants didn't get their race recorded.  That made it impossible for the results to be finalized on race day.  Many of us waited 2 hours for the results only to be told to go home since they didn't have it ready. 

Even after a couple of days after the event, the results were not finalized.  They keep sending “preliminary” reports, which I think is a waste of time.  It only played with my emotions.  My name kept bouncing up and down between 2nd and 3rd place in my age division.  After a while, I stopped looking because I was afraid I was going to end up on the bottom of the list.  I wished they’d just e-mail the FINAL results. 

Regardless of the minor faults, I still recommend the Mermaid Series.  It’s a fun, fast, friendly event.  The race itself flowed smoothly.  And the number of participants was just right.  It’s a perfect race for the first-timer, casual racers, competitive racers, and anyone in-between.


  1. Sounds like you had fun, even with some of the agro. I also hate waiting for race results. Did you find out what place you got? Whether 2nd or 3rd, you still did great! Way to go, RG:)

    1. Thanks, Gwen. I placed 3rd in AG. I'm pleased, especially since it's my first and my goal was really to be in the top 10. So yes, I shouldn't complain.



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