Marin County Triathlon is Challenging!

The Marin County Triathlon ( ) is a fantastic race, with one of the most challenging Swim Courses in Northern California. Tides affect this race swim just as much if not more than the Escape From Alcatraz swim. So much so that race day and start time is determined by when the tides will be optimum for the race.


The Swim Course starts at the south end of the McNear’s parking lot. As water is filling the Bay, it creates a right-to-left current that will often impact a swim performance by as much as 10 minutes! In addition, the entrance and exit are extremely rocky. You will need to use caution when entering and exiting. Once you enter the water, you must cross the current to the first buoy, and then go left around the buoy. You will then be swimming with the current for one-half of the course. When you make your next buoy turn, you will be turning 180-degrees, which places you against the current for about one-third of the distance you just travelled. Think about the current as if you are jumping into a river and getting swept downstream, and then have to turn and swim part of the way back up. During the race there will be a lot of safety kayakers and paddle boards. We also have coast guard and fire department showing off their boats and jet skies.


Wear flip flops or shoes that you don’t mind losing to the start. It’s a long walk from the transition area, over the parking lot, dirt path, and onto the rocky beach area. You may be surprised to still see your shoes there after the finish of the race, but just in case make sure you are OK losing them. During the race it is very important to follow instructions of the race director and follow the paddle boarders leading each wave out. Last year I was on the lead paddle board taking out each wave to the first marker to get swimmers on course. Even strong swimmers were having trouble making the first marker if they didn’t aim correctly. You really need to aim far right of the first buoy and let current move you towards it. Once around the first marker relax and enjoy the ride. But beware – sight often so you don’t overshoot last buoy. It is critical that you make this turn in time, as you will have to fight your way back up about one-third of the swim course before you are out of the current and into the calmer cove water. Once you are in the cove water, it’s a quick swim sprint to the exit. Be careful on your way out, as it will be somewhat rocky.

I do not recommend doing a full course practice swim on your own. This should only be attempted by some who knows bay tides and currents very well. TRIMORE will be hosting two more MCT Swim previews before the race on October 17 & 18. If you can’t make those dates and do want to swim at McNears I suggest swimming off the beach in front of the recreation center with a buddy. From here you can practice sighting, see the current and get in a good swim. Please check tides first!

By Jules Slye, TriMore Fitness Captain & President


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