I may not be the most qualified person to write this review, as the 2007 Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Triathlon was my first triathlon, I did the shorter, Sprint distance, and I came in 35th out of 52 in my age category. But since there is no review for it yet, and Yelp is all about the average person reviewing things, I’ll give it a go. The L.A. Tri has two distances, Olympic at 0.9 mile swim, 24 mile bike, and 6.2 mile run, and the Sprint distance at 0.4 mile swim, 20 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run. The Sprint has a longer bike course due to the fact that the L.A. Tri is a point-to-point triathlon which requires the athletes to swim in the Pacific and bike to downtown L.A. for the run section. The logistics of this coordination, as well as the information provided to the athletes is the reason for the one star demerit to be discussed in a moment. The course is spectacular. L.A. was made for the triathlete with easy access to the Pacific Ocean for training, thousands of miles of roads with flats and aggressive hills for practice, and several runners clubs with thousands of members and hundreds of course options. Without touching an automobile you can train all three events almost year-round. The course of the L.A. Triathlon exploits these features and gives the participants a grand overview of the geography of the city. The swim in Venice is situated around the existing surf facilities – showers, toilets, the Venice Pier, and all that gorgeous coastline with a surf that predictably shifts every five to ten minutes. The T1 transition area is in a parking lot, and you emerge with your bike onto Venice Blvd. The bike course moves through a dozen or more neighborhoods, each one with a different feel and slightly different climate. Venice, to Fairfax, to Hollywood, to Echo Park, to Downtown L.A. is truly diverse scenery. Climaxing with a monster bomb down Grand Avenue, flying at 50mph, the bike course zig zags to a finish at the Convention Center. With a long T2 area you have plenty of time to feel the agony of transitioning to the run portion, rack your bike, and then trot onto the run course where you get the thrill of running up that Grand Avenue hill that was so exhilarating to flash down. The downtown run gives friends and family ample room to setup and cheer you on, if you’re lucky enough to have people there for you. Even if you’re not, tri-fans are enthusiastic and triathletes deeply appreciative of support. My issue with the event is that during the swim portion the buoy markers were not clear and there was a lot of confusion between the athletes and the race directors. I asked the race president, on the lifeguard tower with mic in hand, what the Sprint course buoys were. He told me, “left at the far red buoy, left at the yellow buoy, left at the second yellow buoy, right at the inside red buoy.” Seemed right to me. My wave hits the water, we charge the surf in a reverse D-Day, and when we hit the first red buoy the lifeguards in the water start shouting for us to swim towards the second yellow buoy. “But they told us to round the far yellow buoy!” we yelled. “Sprint goes that way!” they yelled. So we went. Every single one of us sardines. Prior to our Sprint wave, the second wave of Olympic Distance men got confused and, duck-like, fifty men followed one lost swimmer around the first buoy – the lifeguards had all clustered at the far end of the course to guide the elite men’s pack leaving the amateur and regular guys to fend for themselves. This was corrected in later waves, but the second wave of men just got screwed. The T2 transition area turned out to be two long corridors of bike racks, as opposed to the more square T1 area. The T1 area made for faster in-and-out changeovers, while the long, narrow column of T2 added significant time in running along the rows until the rack was located. And lastly, nothing shows the failure of LAUSD than the very nice kid volunteers who brought the T1 bags from Venice to downtown and just had no idea how numbers work. T1 bags were supposed to be grouped by bib number, tied to the bag itself. But the kids, who were very friendly and enthusiastic, were either illiterate or didn’t care and just piled bags willy-nilly. This made for a fun game of very tired and brain dead athletes trying to find their stuff. These are not huge complaints. In a race of this size and complexity it’s a wonder it happens at all in a city this big and hostile to interruption. But it’s also an amazing race, and triathletes are an incredibly friendly, gregarious bunch who just love to have fun and compete in exciting areas. I’m thrilled to have found my sport, and I’m already booking up my race calendar for next year’s season. The L.A. Tri will absolutely be on that list.