Low turnout & low water levels at Wildflower - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Low turnout & low water levels at Wildflower

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 Thousands of athletes and volunteers are gathering at Lake San Antonio to prepare for this weekend's Wildflower Triathlon.

However, the race is facing some serious changes and challenges.

With worries about the swimming portion of the race because of the drought, plus other triathlons going on this same weekend, the number of racers has dropped.

The Wildflower course looks different this year than in the past. It's a consequence of the state's endemic drought.

Wildflower founder and CEO Terry Davis showed KSBY where the water levels at Lake San Antonio used to be and explained that this year, the location of the swimming portion of the race is moved to an area of the lake where the water levels are in relatively good shape.

"We're praying, it doesn't take much in a normal year the water will be back up here," Davis said.

The race has some of the lowest registration numbers in its 33-year history.

Two years ago, 6,500 people raced in Wildflower but last year that number dipped to 5,000. This year, only 2,500 athletes will attempt the Triathlon.

"Once the water is back up here...they will come, they'll be back," Davis said.
Rachelle Jorgensen worried the race might not even happen.

"There was chatter about a month ago that they weren't going to have us swim so I was concerned," she said.

Jorgensen's concerns washed away as she checked out the lake Friday.

"It's awesome, it's way better than last year," Jorgensen said.

The drought is no excuse to miss the triathlon for legendary Ironman Scott Tinley.

"Don't blame it on nature," Tinley said. "There's plenty of water and it's actually quite nice."

The new course has athletes swim first, then do a two mile transition run before hopping on their bikes and then running again to finish up the race.

Racers told KSBY the adjusted course is actually an advantage for them because it allows them to stretch their legs after the swim and before starting the biking portion.

KSBY will have full race coverage Saturday.

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