travel fin­ish line Vine­man, Sonoma County, Calif.

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Contents Volume 8 Issue 6 - By Gaylia Lynn Oster­lund

Oneof the best- kept se­crets of triathlon is nes­tled about one hour north of San Fran­cisco in Sonoma County. Known pri­mar­ily for host­ing Iron­man 70.3 Vine­man in early July, this spec­tac­u­lar venue is also host to the Full Vine­man and Barb’s Race just a few weeks later. Both events uti­lize parts of the 70.3 course but of­fer a more laid back, low-key ex­pe­ri­ence. Owned and op­er­ated by the Pugh fam­ily, the en­tire or­ga­ni­za­tion goes to great lengths to en­sure each ath­lete has a unique and mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence. Whether you’re a first-time vis­i­tor or a sea­soned regular at this week­end cel­e­bra­tion, the or­ga­niz­ers make you feel right at home. This year was the 24th an­nual Full Vine­man Triathlon. Known as the “the peo­ple’s full dis­tance event,” Vine­man is the old­est in­de­pen­dent full dis­tance triathlon held in the con­ti­nen­tal U. S.

The Jour­ney

The point-to-point venue be­gins at John­son’s Beach in the quaint town of Guerneville where ath­letes swim in the Rus­sian River. The race fin­ishes at Wind­sor High just 17 miles away. On the bike, ath­letes travel through five mag­nif­i­cent grape- grow­ing re­gions on their rolling, scenic tour of some of the most beau­ti­ful vine­yards and winer­ies in Sonoma County. The multi-loop run is a per­fect blend of flat and rolling ter­rain. The course passes through the tran­si­tion area giv­ing ev­ery­one a chance to feed off the crowd’s en­ergy be­fore head­ing back out. If the day’s tem­per­a­tures rise, as they have been known to do, find­ing respite from the sun will prove to be the real chal­lenge.

The Race

The Full Vine­man was named one of “The Best 140.6- Mile Races” by Triath­lete Magazine in March 2010. For 2013 the field was lim­ited to 1,100 ath­letes, en­sur­ing each com­peti­tor had an un­for­get­table day. Once out on the course for the 140.6 mile jour­ney, 800 vol­un­teers were on hand to meet all the ath­letes’ needs. New­bies and veter­ans alike ex­pe­ri­enced the at­ten­tion nor­mally re­served for the pro­fes­sional field.

As our sport moves through this growth spurt, it is com­fort­ing to know Vine­man brings the feel of “the good ole’ days” each and ev­ery year.

The Des­ti­na­tion

In terms of lodg­ing, it is most con­ve­nient to stay near the fin­ish area in Wind­sor or Santa Rosa. Many ath­letes camp in Guerneville so they are at the start­ing line first thing. The race does pro­vide free shut­tle buses to take ath­letes from the fin­ish at Wind­sor High School back to John­son’s Beach af­ter the race from noon un­til 11:30 p. m., but bikes are not per­mit­ted on the buses.

Be sure to al­low plenty of time to visit the vine­yards and winer­ies lo­cated in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia. Of par­tic­u­lar note are La Crema ( lacrema. com) and the Fran­cis Ford Cop­pola Win­ery (fran­cis­cop­po­law­in­ery. com/visit). In ad­di­tion to wine tast­ing, ath­letes and their fam­i­lies can view the re­gion from a hot air bal­loon or pic­nic at Arm­strong Red Woods State Nat­u­ral Pre­serve in Guerneville.

While out train­ing on the course, be sure to check out the Dry Creek Store and the Jim­town Store. Both mar­kets wel­come ath­letes and of­fer an ar­ray of food and snacks to get you through your ta­per ses­sions. Do take the time to sit on the porch at Dry Creek and en­joy the beau­ti­ful view of the vine­yards.

The evenings are the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to travel to the neigh­bour­ing towns to en­joy some of the best cui­sine in Cal­i­for­nia. From metropoli­tan San Fran­cisco to cosy Healds­burg ev­ery fam­ily will find some­thing to suit their palate.

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