A Rose by any other sex …

Monette Williams discusses the transition area.

“Are you excited? I’m excited.”

Marcy gave me a curious look. OK, so this wasn’t my event. I wasn’t the one who would be swimming 225 yards, riding my bike 9 miles, then running 2 on Sunday at the Finley YMCA in North Raliegh. Still, the pre-race clinic we’d just sat in on for Sunday’s Ramblin’ Rose Raleigh triathlon had gotten my competitive juices flowing.

Ramblin’ Rose Raleigh is one of six Carolina sprint triathlons in the Ramblin’ Rose series targeted exclusively to women. The events have become enormously popular in just a few short years, typically selling out well in advance (though spaces remain for Sunday’s RRR). The events are designed for people like me only female who think they might like to try a tri, but are intimidated by the sport’s Ironman image.

Clinic leaders Monette Williams and Amy Charney tried to emphasize the “fun” aspect of the Ramblin’ Rose for the 75 or so triathletes attending Wednesday night’s clinic.

“There’s going to be a lot of people in the pool at the same time,” Williams said. With 600 registered as of Wednesday, she said there would likely be eight women swimming in a lane at the same time. Though the triathletes are supposed to rank their speed in the water and the swimmers are sent off according to that ranking, you still get faster and slower swimmers intermingling.

“If you come up on someone you’re not gonna grab them, you’re not gonna dunk them,” Williams said. “You’re going to be nice. You’re going to tap them on the foot and see if they’ll let you pass at the wall.”

A far cry from the Ironmans I’ve watched on TV where the swimmers, sent off en masse, are clubbing one another with frothy ferocity.

They spent a lot of time discussing the transition area (“There is no nudity in transition,” Williams advised) — the area where triathletes change from swimmer to biker, then biker to runner — especially the fact they would have a very small amount of space to stash their stuff. They pointed out, more than once, the location of the porta-potties. And they delivered the bad news that even though the race doesn’t start until 8 a.m., they should arrive to get set up no latter than 6:30 a.m.

I learned a lot at the session. I even learned stuff I didn’t know needed to be learned. Like when the race is over.

Turns out the finish of this tri is a rather complicated affair. There are two blow-up arcs at the finish, for instance. The first arc tells the people at the finish that you are approaching. It’s not the finish, so keep running. The second arc may not exactly be the finish, either, so keep running through it as well.

“Just keep running until someone tells you to stop,” Williams said.

Someone asked how long the race officials would stick around, inferring she feared they would pack up and leave by the time she finishes.

“We stay ‘til the last runner,” Williams laughed.

“It pays to finish last because you get the biggest cheering section,” added Charney. “We support our women.”

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You can still sign up for Sunday’s Ramblin Rose Raleigh here.

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