I doubt I'll ever be able to compete over long course distances again, but heck, the Triton World Series looks both epic racing and race tourism all wrapped up in one.
If you've even blown up on the final leg of a half distance (70.3) or full distance(140.6) race because you went too hard on the bike(me, every long distance race I did!), or are not sure if you can race long distance, the TRITON World Series is well worth considering, especially if they add the race countries they've listed including the USA and Canada.
The only race so far announced is the Azores Triton, taking place on the 18th, 19th and 20th of October, 2019.
The races are held over 3-successive days. The first day is a swim, choose from 1.5Km, 3Km, 4.5Km; The second day is the bike, choose from 50Km, 100Km, 150Km; the third day is the run, choose from 10Km, 20Km, 30Km.
Awards are based on points, and are awarded as follows: 1st place will be awarded a number of points equal to the number of finishers in the race and category in question (X); 2nd place gets (X-1) points; 3rd place gets (X-2) points, and so on until the last placed finisher, which will get one point. Points from all TRITON WS races are added for a end of year ranking.
They have Pro, Age Group, Corporate and Relay divisions, and points over all 3-distances Full, Half and Olympic. Which implies you can't mix and match distances.
There are a set of short videos on youtube, with the courses for the Azores Triton races. I have to say it looks epic. As of today, I was the only person who'd viewed the video below :-)
A good news bad new story. Ironman and Facebook have announced that Ironman will use Facebook Live for the next two years, with a third year option for 2021.
Facebook surely has a platform to broadcast to the world, avoiding the buffering and related connectivity issues that we've seen in the past with the 10+ hour Ironman broadcasts. Realistically, no generally available TV/Cable broadcaster is ever going to show Ironman Live.
Facebook will be collecting all the data from the viewers, especially if your are logged in to your Facebook ID, but not just when you are.
At least based on my limited viewing in 2018, you were not required to be logged-in to Facebook. However, unless your ran in an "incognito window" or similar, Facebook dropped a number of cookies into your browser which it could then use later. Also, if you tried to click on any other link, maybe to see a Pro-athletes FB page, you were immediately dropped into the Facebook login page, with any details FB knew about you.
Talking of data, the press release boldly claims:
"Triathlon Fans Have Spoken: Exceptional Fan Response In Year One"
It doesn't though provide any details to support this claim, how many, where from, what they said etc.
I promise my journal hasn't become a promotion vehicles just for the movie. I'll add a state of the union post shortly. In the meantime, just a couple of weeks out from the start of the ITU Season which will see the majority of the athletes that are going to race in the 2020 Olympics get selected, here are the links for Amazon Prime members to watch the film online.
Not long after Challenge Roth in 2013, which was truly a great race, I heard there was a plan to make a full length movie of the 2014 race.
They launched a fundraising effort via Indiegogo to raise money for the film. It didn't go so well, they raised just $7,115 USD of the flex goal of $500,000, raised from 89 backers, of which I was one.
We got frequent updates during 2014 before and as they headed to Roth for the race and then it all went quite. Nothing. I figured it was another crowdfunding gone bad. At that point, I'd lost more than I'd got. Of the ones I got the product itself was a let down, or just wasn't durable.
The great news is, that the folks behind We Are Triathletes stuck to it. Like that person in an Ironman race who has had a bad day, a mechanical, bio issues, they kept going and finally delivered last year. We had a screening here in Louisville CO on August 8th at the Cinebarre Boulder 11, about 60 people showed up.
The film is now widely available to rent or buy for streaming, or as a DVD. This is great news, as much as I think Challenge Roth is more of a must do race than Kona, I also accept it's hard to get into, and for most Americans, hard to get to.
You can buy, rent or stream starting from their website. Make sure you watch through the credits!
Executive Producer, Bob Babbitt, has even bought a Superbowl Commercial in Glendive Montana, watch this for the low-down.
I have a massive backlog of race reports, it's looking less and less likely I'll be racing anytime in the future, so I figured I'd start with the latest and work backwards.
I was originally, and optimistically signed up for the Olympic Distance Triathlon. This relied on two things.
Being able to maintain my motivation and training
My ongoing heart condition
Turns out, neither of them held-up. My training tailed off over the summer; and I'd had an abnormal (heart) treadmill test 10-days before the race. As a result of the test, the cadiologist rather that being unenthusiastic about my continued racing, point blank forbid any further swimming. Apparently I'm just too big to rescue from even a pool in the event of a cardiac issue, and drowning isn't a great way to go.
Fortunately, rather than DNS, I switched to the duathlon. The race format was 5k run/17-mile bike/5k run. I actually like duathlons as a race format, even though I don't enjoy running that much.
The run and bike segments are the same pretty much as those used for all the other sprint races at Boulder Reservoir. So that's good and also gives me some benchmarks to perform again.
With Kare racing as well, and with a wave start approximately than 45-minutes before mine, we had to be out at the Res' early. At packet pickup the day before, I'd officially transferred to the duathlon, but kept the same race number. Racking was in with my age group for the tri. I briefly re-assured the guy next to me I wasn't racing him, and left.
After watching Kate start in a massive swim wave, I did a slow jog back to the car, dropped off my top, and used the run back to transition as a proper warm-up. Given BBSC have a fairly relaxed approach to transition, "Athletes only", I was able to drop the key fob into Kates bike bag, zipped it up and wet to the end of the aisle and waited. Ashley came by, then women from Kates wave started to come into transition. Kate was through a few minutes back, and after she'd left on the bike, I left transition.
The field was much bigger than expected. I had figured maybe 30 people, it turned out there were 29 females, and some 40 Men. Competitors based on what they were wearing were 2/3 experienced, 1/3 newbies.
I lined up near the back, both because I knew I'd be slow, and to better pace myself., over all the 5k went well, I started to fade after about mile-2, which was to be expected, I'd done ok, on the way into transition I decided to take a bathroom break and also to lean to remove my run shoes.
Importantly, I was able to keep my heart rate fairly even, although it peaked a few times at the mid 160's, the average for the run was 145, right about were I'd expected it.
5k run stats: Official time 32:05, 2nd slowest mens time. My run pace was 10:21. Fastest 5k time was an awesome 13:16. Average HR 145 bpm, Max HR 164 bpm
I did a resonable transition, given the bathroom break, and soon settled into the bike. On the way out of the Res' I was surprised to catch a glimpse of Kate on her way back in.
T2 stats: 2:33
The course is a gentle but noticeable climb out of 51st St, along Jay Rd, and then up I-36, and from the point on 36 where the course starts to level out at 7-miles, it's mostly a hammerfest. While the course was pretty busy with the tail end of the Olympic distance bike and most of the duathlon competitors, once I'd turned off on Neva RD, I was surprisingly alone.
I pushed on as best I could, working hard to keep speed above 20MPH. It was only just before N 63rd street that I passed two other competitors, sailed aroud the right turn where the competition merges with the fast Olympic distance triathlon.
I tried to maintain a decent pace to the end of the bike course, but started to slow on the return on the Diagonal. Finally on the turn onto 51st, I went as fast as I could back to transition, with a cautious but well executed running dismount.
17.3 Mile Bike Stats: Official time: 56:11, 25th male. Average speed 18.4MPH, Max Speed 36.9. Average HR 141, Max HR 153
I had a clean transition, and ran out holding my water bottle, unlike a triathlon where I'd typically run out holding and trying to put my race belt on, I'd already put this on before the start!
On the second run, my heart rate alert (160bpm) went off quite a few times. I've conditioned myself to come to a complete stop, let it return to where it should be, and then restart running. It drops pretty quickly, and the Cardiologist says the extra beats are likely to be my additional PVC/PVD in action, as at the time it happens, I don't feel any pain, no breathlessness or any other indication there is a problem. You can see this on the chart below, circled.
As much as I tried, I just couldn't pass the two duathlon women just ahead of me, and pushed through to the finish line.
5K Run Stats: Official time 38:38. Slowest male 2nd 5k. Average HR 141 bpm, Max HR 173bpm.
Overall I have to say I did again enjoy the duathlon. Heading out on the bike is an entirely different feeling than in a triathlon. Overall my bike speed was down, compared to other races over the same course, although my RUN 1 was in the ballpark for my run performances.
We went almost straight from the finish line to the award ceremony, where I was surprised to learn I got 3rd in the Male 60-69 age group. Turns out 2nd place was almost 30-minutes faster, but hey you've got a be in it to win it.
If this does turn out to be my last multisport race, that's a decent way to end.
OVERALL STATS: Finish time 2:10:12, 35th man, 55th overall, 3rd of 6 in age group.
Good luck to all these guys, and the countless age groupers that will be racing Kona that have overcome a major injury or illness. The fact that any of these men are racing is truly remarkable, the fact they qualified is truly an awesome accomplishment. For the record, I couldn't find a single female professional racing in Kona who'd had a major accident in the past 2-years, this is one male achievement the women shouldn't aim for equality with. #50womentokona
Of these, I've paid more interest in Tim Dons recovery. Not just because Tim is a Brit', and because we've raced at many of the same races, but also he is for now, also local, here in Boulder. I can remember seeing Tim on a rainy Thursday course ride around the Milton Keynes Olympic distance course back in 2000., we'd ridden and were sitting in the small cafe drinking hot tea, and a head of curly hair passed by the window, it was Tim now going out on a run.
Tim doesn't have a perfect record. During his time as a short course professional while a short course professional he was twice suspended/banned for missing drug tests, he has also has his race failures, most especially the 2008 Beijing Olympics where he DNF'd.
However, after his accident, Tim deserves to have a great Kona. Here are a few pictures, and videos, if you have not seen the Man with the Halo, grab a cuppa, and be amazed.
My slo-mo video of Tim winning 2017 Ironman Boulder 70.3
is always news, because it is news, and because it happens so infrequently. Last weekend saw at least two deaths in races, the most prominent was the death of 75-year-old Jim Hix in the USA Nationals. Jim had to be rescued from the swim and subsequently pronounced dead. At the time of writing, no cause of death has been established.
The other death I was able to find was that of Dr Mark Wladecki during a triathlon in Gibsonburg Ohio at the White Star 5K and Multisport Festival. According to the press write-up, 60-year-old Wladecki "failed to stop at a stop sign" during the bike section, and was hit and killed.
For those of us that are triathletes, and cyclists, death reports are a stark reminder of the risks we take. Recently while a volunteer Captain, running VIP Services for the Boulder Ironman 70.3, I got to witness, first hand, my first death in sport.
At the time, my first reaction was what was going on, as a saw the rescue team on jet ski's converging fast at a pint not far from the finish of the swim. I was almost shocked to see how they cut through the swimmers. It was quickly obvious this was indeed a rescue, and this excused the speed and danger the other competitors were put in.
We have a couple of #wildflowertriathlon#wildflowerexperience tech t-shirts that don't fit... A women's medium and a large. The large is only slightly bigger than the women's medium. I think the large may be kids sizing, it's definately not men's. They are free for local pickup, otherwise I'll mail them out for a PayPal $3.99 - neither says long course..
I don't have a race report on Wildflower Long course when I did it in 2003, I didn't start on livejournal until January 2004. Just after deciding to enter for the 2018 race, as motivation for a formal comeback post-heart attack, I wrote up this article for 303 Triathlon. It was poorly formatted when posted, but you get the idea.
Wildflower 2003 for me had all been about an epic journey to an epic race. As it turned out, the race was subject to major run course changes due to rain leading up to, and during the race. I remember not being as prepared as I'd liked to have been; breaking a front wheel spoke and it buckling, and struggling on the run up a massive hill twice instead of once on the regular run course.
From memory, my result(7:22) was a reflection of the very tough run course, and the broken spoke and buckled wheel. I could beat it, even post-heartattack and 15-years later. How wrong I was.
In my 19-years or so of triathlon, I've had some pretty disappointing results. I've DNF'd a few times. One of the first being the MiamiMan in 2006 (race report here). Most of my poor race results were really no more than being too blasé and not treating the course with enough deference. That was in the end my story of Wildflower 2018 Long Course.
We rented a 32ft RV from Cruise America and loaded it up with 2-race bikes, and 3-mountain bikes to get around on while we were there. The drive was a frantic one, across Colorado, through Utah, across a tiny part of Arizona, through Nevada and into California. It involved a overnight stops and a lot of gas. Overall it was a 1224-mile journey that took just over 2.5 days. The return was pretty much the same.
While the ratio of travel time to race weekend was far too much travel, it was definitely the easiest to get to the race with a LOT of stuff. We had limited time as we'd taken A. out of school, with permission, and she had a concert on the Wednesday after the race, which was a must. So 5-days traveling for a 3-day race weekend. The RV was definitely the right way to go, just not on such a tight experience.
Cost wise, for 3x airline tickets, and transporting 2x race bikes, we might have got there quicker, but probably not cheaper. Admittedly the fooot to the floor driving burned a lot more gas than a more leisurely drive, but at $1600 for the RV, $600 for fuel, and another $600 for camp sites, a good deal.
Wildflower isn't just a race, it's an experience now. That's the official branding. There are way more options for camping and "glamping" now than there were back in 2003. Kates coach, Allison Freeman, wrote up a before and after on Wildflower that are worth reading.
Suffice to say, the key to a good experience for me was to get a full RV hookup site, at a decent rate. Mission accomplished, we even got some shade from the trees. In fact, we were not far from where we'd been in 2003, except this time we had a sewage dump.
After doing packet pickup, it was quickly obvious the worst thing about the "experience" was no printed race guide, and very poor cellphone coverage. That meant that even the easy questions couldn't be answered unless someone nearby knew the answer, or you went down to the Expo and asked at the information booth.
Information on when shuttles ran, if you could take bikes on the shuttle, how to get to Transition on race morning etc. were all much more difficult than they needed to be. This information could have been included in a single page insert available at check-in, or instead of being information that was dynamically fetched in the Wildflower app, it could have been built-in.
Overall though it was a great experience. Easy in, easy there, and easy-out late Sunday afternoon.
There was no day-before transition check-in, and so it was up early, prep everything and head down on the bike. The road down is not the easiest to ride down with a backpack full of race stuff.
I hadn't really studied the course, afterall I don't remember it being that tough from 2003. The water was lower than I remember it in the lake, but not nearly as low as recent years. This made the run from the swim on concrete actually both hard, and fairly long. The start was pro's first, followed by a stream of age grouper waves. Disappointingly, the older male age groups started near the back, before the Mountain Bike Triathlon started. My age group, Men 55+ was the last long course age group, except the relays.
This I think will have meant a lot of the volunteers and the race organizers will have made the day longer than it need be. More on this later.
When my wave started, I stayed to the back and swam a pretty good swim. Although we were swimming into the sun for half the course, the bouys were easy to see and the course uncomplicated.
My swim felt OK, no hyperventilating and heart pounding moments. No major clashes with other athletes, just a steady swim. I found myself coming out of the water in 41:53 for the 1.2-mile swim, just under a minute slower than 2003 and at time that put me in 12th out of 33 in my age group.
All good so far. As I said earlier it was a long run up the boat ramp and into transition. I was pretty breathless by the time I got there. I was out of T1 in a pedestrian 4:48, slowest in my age group. My heart rate had climbed to a race max 202BPM during the run. No wonder I was breathless.
I had bought my standard Guru Merus tri bike setup. With a standard 53/39T and an 11/25 cassette. How wrong could I have been. Frankly, I should have bought my Felt AR2 road bike. It has an 11/29 cassette and would have been a more comfortable ride, and definitely better for the climbs I'd completely forgotten about.
It took me nearly 8-miles to get my heart rate under control. This was especially true since within the first two miles there was an enormous climb up Beach Hill. For every section where I thought I was flying, there were two sections where I felt I was going to fall off my bike I was going so slow. Two thirds of the way up Nasty Grade, I watched one rider after another in front of my bail, I did the same. It was a long slow walk to the top.
I saw a fellow competitor act like a complete ass on the course. She had been standing at the side of the road and a pickup truck was following a slow moving, a safely passing grey saloon car. Everytime the car slowed, the truck honked and got irritated. When they got to her, she stepped out into the road and blocked the single lane. As the truck finally passed, she threw the contents of a water bottle at it. I was too far back to see if that actually hit. When I caught her a little later I made a mental note of her number. When the race photographs came out, checked it was her and emailed her Tri club and the race directors.
Towards the end of the bike, and especially in the last 5-miles, I picked up speed and got through to the dismount line. My bike time was a disappointing, 4:31 for the 56-miles. Again the slowest in my age group, and nearly an hour slower than my 2003 time.
In transition I wasted time trying to find a referee to report the rogue competitor to, couldn't find anyone, and left. Shortly out of a 6:02 T2, not the slowest but bottom five I started to meet a few other runners.
Out on the run course it was brutally hot. This was definately something I didn't experience in 2003. When I came off the bike, the temperature had been 93f without a hint of a breeze.I had a plan for sunscreen for the race, but changed it at the last minute.
This was a serious mistake. I'd felt weak and slighty disoriented in the latter stages of the bike. I was sure though this was because I'd been out longer than planned, not that I'd got sun stroke. I had. This was very reminiscent of the 2006 MiamiMan triathlon. Another long course race, another bandly managed sun block race.
I took this picture 6-days later at the pool. Not only is the burn still visible, but you can see where I had blood blisters on both shoulders. For a "former" redhead, this was a serious mistake.
For the second mile I ran alongside these two guys. One, #1517, Jim Crane from LA, was in my age group; the other, #1500, Robin Bittner, also from CA. We passed the photographer, and were running parallel to the shore, well before we got to Beach Hill, I glanced at my watch, did a mental calculation and decided to quit. Despite their offers to walk with me for a while, I declined, knowing there is not only no way I'd beat my 7:22 time from 2003, but also I was likely to be out there for maybe another 4-hours and wouldn't make the cutoff.
Given the heat and my heart attack, and that with a 4:55, and 6:02 half Ironman distance races in my record, I had nothing to proove. I walked back to the expo area, handed in my chip, in exchange for an iced towell and set off to find Kate and A.
Robin Bittner was in the 55-59 age group, and finished in 8:55:51. Jim Crane from my age group, 60-64, finished in 8:44:07. First place in our age group was Phil Furness in 5:48:14, and the last place finisher, finished in 9:21:05.
The cutoff for the longcourse race was 5:30pm. Given the 9 a.m. start time, anyone who went more than 8:30pm should have DNF'd. Making the older men go last, was a mistake. It should have meant 72-year old Ben Gribb, the only competitor in the 70-74 age group, DNF'd with an 8:47:57 finish, Robin, and Jim from my age group, as well as upto 20 ther men and a number of women also be DQ'd.
However, this isn't Ironman. They let people finish with friends a family, they let people who passed the cut-off finish and keep their results. And that is a big part of the Wildflower Experience, I can only recommend it.
Kate may race their again, I won't though. Never say never, but I just don't see me ever doing a long course triathlon again. I've said that before though. If I do though, next time I must choose the right equipment.
Next day I felt fine, and we were up early to support Kate as she did her first ever Olympic Distance triathlon, She'd trained hard, and got the result she deserved with only the run coming in outside of my projected time. She'd used a roadbike with compact cranks. Smart woman. I'm very proud of her. It's for her to decide to post pictures and race details.