The Baltimore Triathlon is a race that almost wasn't. Twice.

I first heard about the race after its inaugural run in 2014 and decided to give it a try in 2015. It was an October triathlon and I figured it would be a fun, easy way to end the triathlon season, especially coming on the heels of a challenging half Ironman distance race.


Mother Nature, however, had other plans.

Instead of a triathlon in early October of 2015, we had Hurricane Joaquin, a powerful storm that marched steadily up the east coast, bringing high winds and drenching rains to Maryland's already saturated soil. Needless to say, many local events were cancelled, including the Baltimore Triathlon, Ironman Maryland, and the Waterman's Triathlon Festival.

For a nominal fee, Baltimore Triathlon race organizers offered to defer entries until 2016 and I accepted, unaware at the time that I would not actually pursue a triathlon season in 2016.

Burnt out after nearly ten years of training and racing, I was ready for a break. So, this year, I did not train. Instead, my exercise regimen resembled one any normal, sane human being might undertake. I did a local, charitable sprint triathlon for fun, and ran two running relays.

Otherwise, I simply enjoyed a more relaxing summer and had nearly forgotten about The Baltimore Triathlon until the event emails started rolling in.

Although there was no hurricane, this year's race came on the heels of week of cooler temperatures, gray skies and endless rain. The forecast on race morning was for wind, rain and thunderstorms, with temperatures in the low 60s. I dreaded going. I didn't want to pack my gear and I didn't want to drag myself from my warm bed in the dark, wee hours of morning and do a triathlon in the rain.

But I rallied and went to the race. And it was so worth it.

In a nutshell, the Baltimore Triathlon is a great race. The rain held off for most of the morning and the drive to Gunpowder Falls State Park was quick and easy. Though water conditions were beastly — choppy and rough — I was plenty warm in my wetsuit, and the rest of the race was an absolute pleasure. The bike was fast and flat on well-maintained roads and through quaint neighborhoods, and the run wound through the park and included a lovely off-road stretch through the trees.

Despite my lack of training — and I will credit this with the shallow competitive field and maybe the fact that I was rested and uninjured — I am pretty sure I logged a personal record for an international distance race, finishing first in my division and fifth woman overall.

Though some improvement is needed in the area of post-race food, the venue was great, the race was well-organized and the course was fun, fast and flat. With its sprint and relay options, the Baltimore Triathlon is also a great race for first-time triathletes — especially if water conditions are agreeable. I would definitely do the Baltimore Triathlon again.

It was a race that, for me, was all gain ... even though I didn't train.