The rise of the everyman

Because I'm used to having comments deleted, or at the very least, not published, this entry is a place holder for a comment I've submitted to on his post asserting Triathlon has changed, marketing and the sport has missed the change, and that we no longer need Pro's.

Tom, to be honest you are totally over reacting here. There were NO professional triathletes at Florida this year, there was no pro prize purse offered by ironman and no category for them to register in.

Dans time and win is impressive, but put in context, a couple of years earlier, IM Swiss then 6x now 7x winner Ronnie Schildknicht had a poor Kona race that year, decided to regroup and after coming 2nd at the Austin 70.3 flew to Panama City and recorded to win and record the then fastest ever North American Ironman time of 7:59:42

In 2013, the last year Florida was a full pro race, with the same time,Stubleski would have come 22nd, a full 45 minutes after the winner.

You make some good points, but your main premise is totally flawed, sub-8hr Ironman times are not uncommon and to go from 8:36 to sub 8 is a massive leap.

Mark Cathcart said:
November 11, 2015
8:22 pm (aka 2:22pm GMT)
Your comment is awaiting moderation. 


[EDIT: 21:34] Added screen capture, plus included the lead paragraph which I missed in the above.

Going to the big race

Kate and I wrote a blog entry about the 2015 ITU World Championships in Chicago for 303 Triathlon. It's online here.

the annual ITU World Championships, held in various formats since 1989(1*), is one of the ultimate races. This year, Colorado residents made up 47 members of Team USA (8), and probably loads of other Coloradoans competing for other countries. The ITU World Championships isn't just a single race, it is actually some 20-races, with all but the elite mens and womens races split by the usual 5-year age groups. But it is also more than just races, it is a massively accessible 4 day, triathlon festival, with 7,000 athletes from some 60 countries.

I'll write a brief race report on my actual race. Suffice to say I did slightly better than I expected, with a few of the usual surprises.

Ironman Austin 70.3 course ride

Last weeks ride was a wash, a couple of the people riding were late, we had to mess around with bikes, and since it was a regroup ride, I waited in a number of places. By the time I got back to Decker Lake after 50-miles, I was done. Hot, hurting, and late for lunch, so just cut the course short there and headed back to the car. My ride is on Garmin Connect here.

This weekend it was just Ralph and I. Back a few years ago were were working hard and competing against each other to be the first person under 2:30 for the 56-miles, we never got there, but got close. This week we rode pretty much non-stop, and arrived at Decker Lake 20-minutes faster than last week, so we wrapped up finishing the course as much as you can pre-race day. The ride is on Garmin Connect here.

The course took us 3:37 for the 55.86-miles. Average speed 15.4MPH. Just for reference, and to remind me how old I'm getting, back in 2006 I did the Florida half ironman bike course in 2:43, averaging 20.58MPH in a race, and in 2009 did the Ironman Arizona bike leg at  19.04MPH. So its fair to say I'm not at my best. :(

It's also fair to say the course is in fact not easy. Additionally some 8-weeks out from race day still some issues with the course. Here are a few things I noticed, as a reminder to anyone else proposing to ride the course before the race.

NO COURSE MARKING: I had previously marked the course in 2013 and earlier for pre-race training rides. In 2013, it got out of hand and the course is marked 5-6 times in some sections. The first thing to know is the course markings are no longer accurate, they follow the 2013 and earlier parts of the course. Second, and more importantly, we depend on the goodwill of the community and the Travis and Bastrop County Sherrifs for their cooperation. There have previously been complaints about road marking, even with chalk sprays.

NO EXPO CENTER ACCESS: Don't assume that because the gates nearest the start of the bike course are open, others will be. Please ride on the public road only before race day.

BLUE BLUFF TO LINDELL Ln.Take care on Lindell Ln. there are some cracks. When turning left onto Blue Bluff, the road has some serious holes in the first 1/4 mile, ride slowly and preferably single file through the first 250yds avoiding the large surface holes. Second, there is currently construction of a new road on the other side of SH45 toll road. At least, as of Saturday 9/12, you were NOT able to follow Blue Bluff to Old Highway 20 there is a diversion in place. Instead, take the new road and turn right at the detour sign onto Old Highway 20.

This adds less than 1/4 of a mile to the total distance, don't stress it and take care a you pass through the construction zone.

OLD HIGHWAY 20: After passing through downtown Manor, please obey the stop sign in town, and the stop sign at the juntion of Old Highway 20 and FM973. After the FM973 stop the road has some serious cracks, please take care and if riding in a group, signal the damage and changes to avoid crashes.

Once Old Highway 20 becomes Littig Rd, the surface is cracked in some places, but general reasonable. On Littig Rd around mile 13, both weekends we've had a large grey/black dog come tearing out onto the street at high speed and barking loudly.

BALCH TO FM1704: The right turn from Balch onto FM1704 is a stop. The road surface is gone and it's been filled with loose gravel, slow down well before the corner and prepare to stop.

The rest of the course, especially on FM1704 and FM969(aka MLK East) can be busy by mid-morning Saturday, please take care, keep right and ride single file. Overall the course is in reasonable condition for Texas country roads. There are more fast sections than there are poor quality chip seal/seal coat sections.

Garmin Connect / FENIX 3 update

Over on the "have camera will travel" blog there is a great summary of an entirely different use of the Garmin Fenix 3.

I have used Basecamp now after reading about it there. It did infact convert gpx files to FIT and download to the Fenix 3. My primary use had been to create maps via mapmyride etc. and then send to the Garmin 500. To do that required exporting from mapmyride as TCX files, then using gpsies to convert from TCX to GPX and finally downloading to the Garmin Edge 500. When I first got the Fenix 3 I’d assumed I’d stop using the Edge 500 and use the Fenix instead.

What I’ve actualy done is to stop using mapmyride, and use Garmin Connect to make routes instead. Making the routes/maps on there is as easy, possibly easier than mapmyride and also eliminates all the conversion steps. Once you have a route created on Garmin Connect, you can simply send them directly to the (docked) Garmin device. For cycling I still send them to the edge 500 and use that in map mode on the bike handlebars. I use the Fenix 3 as a traditional sports watch, HRM etc. to record what I actually do.

Happy Birthday Jasmine

I'm way, way overdue, in congratulating Jasmine Flatters.

Yesterday was Jasmines' birthday, here is wishing you a belated happy birthday Jasmine. I'm long overdue congratulating Jasmine for being recognized in the highest way in the (British) New Years Honors list and awarded Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE).

British Triathlon has a piece on her professional achievements, here. I was reminded I hadn't posted, when doing introductions on a telephone call with Rich Allen, the Executive Director of the newly announced Professional Triathlon Union. The best piece online about Jasmine is here, on the early220 blog. For anyone who wants to know the major names, events and triathlon history of the UK, this is a great read.

I met Jasmine in late 1999, she was definitely one of the major infuences that convinced me, and by inference, I'd guess thousands, to become triathletes. I'd done my first two sprint triathlons, my home town event, the St Albans Triathlon, that I'd later go on to be the race director for; and an another race, called the Flashman triathlon in Leicester. Then it was winter, keen to keep up the training, I entered a race called the Mudman, a dualthlon, put on by Human Race.

I had no real idea what to expect, it was all offroad, on a tank testing ground. The race date was December 18th, 1999, and come race day it was freezing cold, and we were expect to ride through water traps, and more. I must have asked more dumb questions before the start of the race than I have for the rest of my triathlon career combined. Jasmine answered all of them quetly, and with her huge, trademark beaming smile.

The race was, well, an experience. I came 86th out of 105. I was wet, frozen and exhausted. Still after the race, Jasmine made a point of coming to find me and see how things had gone. She encouraged me to come back and race in the next race, March 2000 version of the race, and later the November 2000 race. I saw Jasmine at both, along with John Lunt. Over the years they would become my go to people when it came to triathlon. Both open to questions, Jasmine would take time to answer, John would just be brutally honest.

I'd go on to work with them, as a volunteer, race capatin and they'd always be available for advice and help. Aside from being the guy with the red flag for bike out and dismount line for the Windsor Triathlon, I went on to volunteer with Jasmine at ITU races, and be a part of the 2002 Commonwealth Games triathlon team. While I initially volunteered for the Olympics Games Triathlon, I wasn't able to participate in the training events, but came back the following year to be a captain for the (notorius) Hyde Park Corner section of the ITU WTS Event.

My biggest opportunity to give back for all the years of advice and kindness was in 2004/2005, when I was able to be an evangelist and advocate for Jasmine in her sucessful run for Chairman of British Triathlon in its' key transitional year.

Happy Birthday Jasmine! xx

Ironman Austin 70.3 Bike Course (2015)

There has been a bunch of discussion and confusion on the facebook group for the Ironman Austin 70.3 about the bike course. For the sake of clarity, I figured I'd copy some of my comments, made on the group, into a livejournal post along with some helpful links.

First up, the course page for the race is here, on the Ironman website. The bike course map and turn by turn directions on the map are correct as of today(8/28). The bike course is the same as last year, 2014. Further down the course page is another link for just turn by turn directions for the bike course, as of today these are wrong. They show the turn-by-turn for the 2013 Bike Course and are incorrect. We've notified Ironman to either update or remove them. Please note, the 2014 elevation map provided by Ironman was incorrect. It used the 2013 bike course. This has been corrected.

Since the 2015 bike course is the same as 2014, the stop motion video I made last year still applies. It's here on Youtube, and can be seen through the embedded link below. It has both the road names, as well a few comments about the course.

The bike course is significantly different from 2013 and earlier in a couple of ways, to avoid a couple of problem areas. The 2013 course went around the back of the lake, turned right onto Blue Bluff up the short, sharp hill, continued around the back of the lake. In the early waves, this sharp turn, with a steep uphill was problematical to faster athletes.

The 2014 and 2015 course takes Lindell at the back of the lake and then turns left on Blue Bluff, go up to Manor and then rejoin the 2013, and earlier courses on Littig road. There are major differences toward the end of the course as well, as we tried to minimize the time on FM969 aka MLK East, including removing the dangerous downhill right turn onto FM969. Instead, we've used one of my favorite sections of FM1704 from the original Longhorn Triathlon course instead, when the race was owned and put on by Endurofun.

The current bike course isn't perfect, but its a good compromise between a challenge, athlete safety, and road restrictions. From my perspective, there are 3 hard sections,

  1. when you turn left onto Blue Bluff, it's less that 6-miles into the bike, it's chip seal and net uphill, there will be lots of bunching;

  2. the left turn onto Balch, same, technical, chip seal and a couple of short sharp uphills.

  3. The whole last 10-miles of the bike course after the last aid station isn't easy for first timers and those not strong on the bike. It's net uphill, the first section after the last aid station has nowhere to rest until you get back to the toll road, where you can coast downhill for a few minutes before the biggest climb on the course; once out on FM969 there is again nowhere to rest, and when you turn onto Decker Lake you've got a short rest before the last 1.5-miles of technical, small roads, couple of short climbs and then into the Expo center for dismount.

There are numerous route rides on mapmyride, and other GPS tracking sites. Please make sure you use the right one. I had a quick look at this one and it seems correct . Here is a zip file with a GPX, TCX and an easy to print B&W Map of the course.

If you want to join me for a ride on September 5th. Let's meet outside the park entrance. Park on the grass verge, please keep the noise down and there are people living in the back of the small fihing shop. We will leave promptly at 7:00 a.m. - I'll bring some black and white maps and sandwich bags, I'll do the ride as a regroup. That is we'll regroup and major intersections. It's will neither be no-drop, nor will be be a fast ride. So figure about 3hrs elapsed, maybe slightly longer. It's a 70.3, thats 56-miles of bike course with no loops/laps. Enjoy.


  • Current Mood: good good
  • Current Music: Robert Elms BBC London

Fenix 3 Update

I'm liking the Fenix 3 more and more. I hadn't been expecting it to be a "smartwatch" in the tech sector sense, ie emails, calendar etc. and it is. Garmin have just updated the firmware to allow interaction rather than just alerts. I have not played with it a lot yet, but I was able to reject a call by pressing a button on the watch.

Afraid though that the hope for open water swim accuracy is still a bit off. I hit the mountain bike at 6:40a.m. today, biked down to Barton Springs, with coffee and MP3 headphones,as always, one of the runners yelled at me to hold the handlebars, what happened to individual responsibility?

I did my 8x lengths and got 2,231yds. It wasn't pretty, but my swim stroke is getting stronger. You can see the full activity here. The following shows the accuracy of the Fenix 3 in open water... I'd swim down the right side of the pool, turn at the wall swim across and back up the other side. I didn't get out at all, honest.
  • Current Location: Austin, TX
  • Current Music: Robert Elms - Funky Friday

Two discipline fail

Since I started in the High Five events Splash and Dash Series back in 2008, I've really enjoyed the hard but short aquathlon style racing. I never took part in any of the Sunrise Aquathlons that we organized back in the UK, but do recall doing one of the very first ITU aquathlon races back in 2001 or 2002, at Salford.

This year has been a bust though. I entered the complete High Five events series, but have missed all but one race, and that was cancelled due to lightening just before race time. Tomorrow, 7/21 is the only one I'll be in town for in the remainder of the series, so I need to make it worth the race.

Over in Boulder they organize a slightly shorter Stroke and Stride Series , I headed over to one race full of anticipation, looking forward to the 750m Swim and 5k Run, only to find on arrival that I'd left my built-up run shoes back at Kates' apartment. I switched to the long couse swim, 1500m which didn't work out so well, even though I swam in my "speed suit". I did the transition, ran through the timing mat and quit. The next event I was better prepared, but a Kate and I drove toward Boulder Reservoir, the weather was closing in.

We arrived to find about 30-athletes huddled under a couple of tents, and the rain steadily coming down, the temperatures dropping. They announced the swim was cancelled and it would be a straight running race, and when the temperatues hit 62f, we got back in the car and left. So, not a great splash and dash season for me. As always, I had a great transition at the first Stroke and Stride though :)

Going Local!

The Real Starky, aka TRS Triathlon published a follow-up I wrote on my TBI blog, growing triathlon professionals.

I wrote it a few weeks back.Originally it was almost twice as many words with a lot of background and overview material to some of the key points. I got a friend, Sandara, who is a professional editor to help me cut and clean it up, it was a great investment.