Is this your first Triathlon?
I'm thrilled your considering this triathlon. You'll probably become addicted. Don't be intimated by the distances. Most short or sprint triathlons are 500 to 750 yard swims, 12 to 17 miles of biking and finish with a 3.1 mile run. I know it sounds like a lot! A triathlon is not something to attempt without preparation and training, however you don't need to be a world class athlete for this race. You can either train and compete in this triathlon on your own or you can get together with two others and race as a team with each one competing in one leg of the event! That way you can just train in your specialty and still compete. Check out the "Looking for a Team" button under the entry fees link.
The highest percantage of competitors usually consist of those who only race 1 or 3 times a year with the remaining competitors being first timers or "newbies". Some folks I've spoken to have been concerned about the level of competition they will encounter in this race. There will be some very competitve athletes and they'll comprise a small percentage of the total competitors.
The good news is that you are only competing against those in your gender, in your age group. And since this is a time trail start each competitor will start about 5 seconds apart in the lake swim. You won't be dunked or trampled at the beginning of the swim as could happen in a "mass" start.
To help you prepare for open water swimming, practice swimming lengths of your local pool with your eyes shut. Try swimming a full length of the pool but keep your eyes shut most of the time. Open your eyes maybe every 3rd or 4th stroke to see if your still on the right side of the lane. If not, adjust your course and try to feel which arm may be pulling you to one side or the other. As you get better at keeping a straight course, then increase the number of strokes you take before opening your eyes to check your position.
Attaching yourself with a swim tether is also a good way to practice open water swimming in a pool. The tether allows you to swim in place without going from end to end. This will simulate what it's like to swim in open water. Ask your favorite swim hole if they have a swim tether you can borrow. If not, try looking on-line under "swim tethers" or "swim stretch cords". Most swim tethers cost around $30 on-line.
As for your bike, mountain, road or triathlon bikes are all acceptable. The road and triathlon bike will be lighter than the mountain bike whick will take less energy to get you through the bike course. Unless you've practiced on a triathlon bike, bring your road bike. The mountain bike is fine but you may notice that the folks on road bikes will be able to go faster. You might try borrowing or renting a road bike as well.
As for the run, it's a hilly course on fine gravel/dirt. And yes, you can stop and walk if you get too tired. Your not required to keep running if you need to catch your breath.
If this is your first triathlon and you'l like to know what to expect and how to prepare for race day, there will be a short(30-45 minutes) meeting/demo on Saturday 7/07/12 at 4:30pm at the packet pick up area. Don't need to bring anything, unless you want to take a few notes. Be there to get a few tips and to ease your race day jitters!!!