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Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave
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I am racing Door County 70.3 this weekend and I can't decide which wave to race in... They offer an Elite Wave that starts first. They explain this wave as being for people that care about their overall placement in the race AND for those that are worried about making the run cutoff. The latter group does a good job at lining up in the back of the elite wave and letting the fast people go first within the wave. Those racing in the elite wave are NOT eligible for age group awards.

My main goal for the race is to put up the fastest time possible. I think the elite wave has the benefit of not needing to race through crowds of people going slower on the swim and bike. I am curious if anyone has opinions the benefits of the elite wave. Will I be able to race much faster in the elite wave than the age group wave?

My age group wave, Male 30-34, would be third to last behind all the females, all athletes over 50, and all the people worried about making the cutoff times. The only benefit I see to the age group wave is that I can compete for an AG award. That said, I feel like an AG award is diluted because those in the M30-34 age group racing in the Elite wave will not qualify.

I am curious to hear people's opinions as to which wave I should choose...


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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [TennesseeJed] [ In reply to ]
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Your bike split will be better in the AG wave since you'll be passing so many people. (Since you can ride up behind them then squirt out at the last second to pass. #legaldrafting)
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [TennesseeJed] [ In reply to ]
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How strong a swimmer are you? If racing with the "elites" means you might be able to find competent feet for an unobstructed swim to come out the water with people who might bike similar speeds then go for the "elite" wave.

If going in the "elite" wave means you being caught on the swim and having to work your way through AG's on the bike then it doesn't seem worth it.

You don't sound as fussed for the AG awards so I think that says a lot towards your preferred option.

Race well.

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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [jmjtri] [ In reply to ]
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jmjtri wrote:
Your bike split will be better in the AG wave since you'll be passing so many people. (Since you can ride up behind them then squirt out at the last second to pass. #legaldrafting)

Not necessarily. You could get into a group in the elite wave, ride legally, and reap the benefits of riding in a group. You still get a benefit even at the legal distance. One could also be more motivated to stay with a group on the bike and push themselves a bit harder than they would by themself.

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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [TennesseeJed] [ In reply to ]
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TennesseeJed wrote:

I am racing Door County 70.3 this weekend and I can't decide which wave to race in... They offer an Elite Wave that starts first. They explain this wave as being for people that care about their overall placement in the race AND for those that are worried about making the run cutoff. The latter group does a good job at lining up in the back of the elite wave and letting the fast people go first within the wave. Those racing in the elite wave are NOT eligible for age group awards.

My main goal for the race is to put up the fastest time possible. I think the elite wave has the benefit of not needing to race through crowds of people going slower on the swim and bike. I am curious if anyone has opinions the benefits of the elite wave. Will I be able to race much faster in the elite wave than the age group wave?

My age group wave, Male 30-34, would be third to last behind all the females, all athletes over 50, and all the people worried about making the cutoff times. The only benefit I see to the age group wave is that I can compete for an AG award. That said, I feel like an AG award is diluted because those in the M30-34 age group racing in the Elite wave will not qualify.

I am curious to hear people's opinions as to which wave I should choose...



If your goal is to get the fastest time it really depends on those who are in the elite race and your own abilities. If you are capable of being pushed in the swim and hanging on to feet and then stay 7m back of a better rider and get a nice draft then you will certainly go faster in the elite wave.

If the elite race you are in ends up being tactical and you either extend yourself or it become surgee then you will almost certainly be slower

The age-group race and all the competitors actually makes it easier to go faster. You can see this by looking at courses like Ironman Arizona. Despite the course be congested as heck, as an avg, pro riders, on lap 2 ride faster than lap 1, and usually there is a dip in power as well even though going faster. Look at age-groupers there is not nearly the discrepancy between lap 1 and 2&3 as there in the pro ranks.


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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [TennesseeJed] [ In reply to ]
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Question:

When registering, are past/proven time qualifications or standards required to be accepted as an Elite?
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [jmjtri] [ In reply to ]
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jmjtri wrote:
Your bike split will be better in the AG wave since you'll be passing so many people. (Since you can ride up behind them then squirt out at the last second to pass. #legaldrafting)

Maybe, but could also be lots of people all over the road in front of him #unintentialblocking
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [Thomas Gerlach] [ In reply to ]
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While I understand there can be a slingshot effect on the bike, I am concerned about swimming and biking through crowds. I am confident in my ability to swim with the competitors in the elite wave and come out in a good position.

What I am concerned about with the age group wave is trying to navigate through hundreds of bikers while trying to stay draft legal and holding even power. I have only done a handful of races, but I find riding around other people to be annoying. I find myself surging power to make passes, and needing to brake to stay out of the draft zone heading into corners as I do not want to make my pass while going around a turn.

I am wondering if there is an advantage to starting in the front with fewer people and just racing my own race, holding my power target and not dealing with many other people on the bike. Your comments about the pro waves on multi lap courses are interesting. I feel like despite there being a slingshot effect, having to navigate through other riders would slow the pros down, but your evidence suggests otherwise.

Brushman wrote:
Question:

When registering, are past/proven time qualifications or standards required to be accepted as an Elite?

No. In fact they encourage slow people to sign up for the wave because they will have longer to complete the swim and bike before the run course cut off. I am currently signed up for the elite wave, but can change it if I wanna go for an age group award. I will be able to be competitive in the age group, but I doubt I will be competitive in the overall race.


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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [TennesseeJed] [ In reply to ]
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The Door County Roads are also super narrow and my experience with the sprint was that there were too many people on the course in too short of a time leading to a huge potential for drafting and people not wanting to move over leading to me having to cross the yellow line and just do somethings that I wasn't comfortable with but maybe it is better with the half and that the swim on the half distances out the competitors more.
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [TennesseeJed] [ In reply to ]
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I raced in an event like this but registered for AG. Being an out of state race I was unfamiliar with the categories... that said I podium'd but all I could do was win my AG. I wonder if your race scores go to USAT as AG.. or not if you race the Elite wave. That said, if/when I do this race again I'm registering in the Elite wave.

I do a race that has what they call a "traditional wave" that you have to submit a time to compete in. They stay away from calling it an Elite wave for some reason, maybe what I mentioned above.
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [Leddy] [ In reply to ]
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Leddy wrote:
jmjtri wrote:
Your bike split will be better in the AG wave since you'll be passing so many people. (Since you can ride up behind them then squirt out at the last second to pass. #legaldrafting)


Maybe, but could also be lots of people all over the road in front of him #unintentialblocking[/quote]


This is exactly why I will be in that Elite wave in DC this coming Sunday. My first year doing that race was brutal with all of the people riding 3 wide chatting on the bike course. Starting so far back, you will get to enjoy those folks for most of your ride. Do your self a favor...start up front.
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [TennesseeJed] [ In reply to ]
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TennesseeJed wrote:

While I understand there can be a slingshot effect on the bike, I am concerned about swimming and biking through crowds. I am confident in my ability to swim with the competitors in the elite wave and come out in a good position.
What I am concerned about with the age group wave is trying to navigate through hundreds of bikers while trying to stay draft legal and holding even power. I have only done a handful of races, but I find riding around other people to be annoying. I find myself surging power to make passes, and needing to brake to stay out of the draft zone heading into corners as I do not want to make my pass while going around a turn.
I am wondering if there is an advantage to starting in the front with fewer people and just racing my own race, holding my power target and not dealing with many other people on the bike. Your comments about the pro waves on multi lap courses are interesting. I feel like despite there being a slingshot effect, having to navigate through other riders would slow the pros down, but your evidence suggests otherwise.

Brushman wrote:
Question:
When registering, are past/proven time qualifications or standards required to be accepted as an Elite?


No. In fact they encourage slow people to sign up for the wave because they will have longer to complete the swim and bike before the run course cut off. I am currently signed up for the elite wave, but can change it if I wanna go for an age group award. I will be able to be competitive in the age group, but I doubt I will be competitive in the overall race.



Personally, if you don't think you're going to make top 3 OA, then I'd say go in your AG wave so that you're eligible for awards. Doing a fast time may not feel all that satisfying if you sit through the awards and see guys who went slower getting awards.


"Anyone can be who they want to be IF they have the HUNGER and the DRIVE."
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [TennesseeJed] [ In reply to ]
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. I find myself surging power to make passes, and needing to brake to stay out of the draft zone heading into corners as I do not want to make my pass while going around a turn.


[/quote]
Honestly you don't need to stay out of the draft zone heading into corners. Unless you are dealing with a ref that has no knowledge of how cycling works, they should understand that occasionally you are going to need to do things in order to keep the race safe. You have to understand too that as pros we can't slip stream so the benefit we are purely getting is basically the mass of people breaking the wind in our general area. As a age-grouper you are allowed to bike up to someone in the draft and sling shot around.

There are other examples you can look at to see just how beneficial the mass of people is on both the swim and the bike, one of the best examples is looking at low density races say 70.3 that have 200 people versus 70.3 that have 2000 and trying to find comparisons of times. Works best if you know the capabilities of the people in the race.

One of the best example of the benefit personally I have seen was at Spirit of Racine the last year before it was bought by Ironman. A female age-grouper whopped up on a pro (lauren jensen). There were only a couple female elites registered. The female age-grouper was photographed with some guys on the bike. It was notoriously drafty day, to begin with, and a lot of the male elites had terrible rides in comparison to some of the packs of age-groupers. Because this was a huge race, but not a pro race, the male elite guys got to race like they were pros and we all learned the hard way (myself included) just how much harder it is when you don't get to pass 800 cyclists over the duration of the ride. I have never raced Door County but I feel it is very similar.


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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [Thomas Gerlach] [ In reply to ]
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[/quote]
You have to understand too that as pros we can't slip stream so the benefit we are purely getting is basically the mass of people breaking the wind in our general area. As a age-grouper you are allowed to bike up to someone in the draft and sling shot around.[/quote]

I would say there are massive caveats here and it as all assuming you have more than a handful of people to even pass. Take Oceanside 70.3 for example or any race with a rolling start, if you are at the front of the AG race and are good on the bike, it is not long before you are in the middle of nowhere by yourself for a long time. I'd take riding in a pro pack for 56 miles over that any day.

But yeah, if I come out of T1 behind 2000 people would I save some energy? Of course. Would I be that much faster than riding in a pro pack? I don't know - I would probably be white-knuckling it the whole time.

As for the elite AG question, we just had the Boulder Peak make its return to Boulder and it was a lot of fun. We had an elite AG wave start behind the women pros and I would bet I went faster in that wave than if I started in my typical AG wave because I was pushing myself against some very fast guys and chasing and being chased. That counts for something in motivation.

Also I would say forget about potential awards or recognition and put yourself up against the best field you can if it's available (but don't ask me about the "if you qualify for your pro card you should take it" thing - that's a separate issue...I think).
Last edited by: GLindy: Jul 11, 17 14:14
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [GLindy] [ In reply to ]
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GLindy wrote:
Also I would say forget about potential awards or recognition and put yourself up against the best field you can if it's available .

This... And you get to swim in clear water, ride on empty roads, finish the race, grab your stuff and go.

I've never been to a race where the extended time between finishing and awards was worth the age group award.

Rarely is the overall win award worth the wait....

All that exclude races like American Z. or Delta Lake where you get free liquor post race....
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [GLindy] [ In reply to ]
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GLindy wrote:

I would say there are massive caveats here and it as all assuming you have more than a handful of people to even pass. Take Oceanside 70.3 for example or any race with a rolling start, if you are at the front of the AG race and are good on the bike, it is not long before you are in the middle of nowhere by yourself for a long time. I'd take riding in a pro pack for 56 miles over that any day.

Most people that grow up thru the sport say that until they actually get there. 99% of the time they are not going to make the pro swim pack, then when they do they are going to be the last man to make the group and are going to be stretched and gassed. But the group doesn't wait for you coming out of T2, so you have to redline it some. Then everyone bikes like bonkers for the first 15 mins. If you are lucky to make it that far, you have an official by your side for nearly the rest of the race. You can't let more than 12 meters open up because then someone can slot in, but you can't be closer than 12 either. It no longer becomes a bike race, it becomes a game of mental energy balancing the distance. Can it be faster, sometimes, it sure goes by fast when you are constantly trying to keep yourself at 12 meters, but it can also rip your legs to shreds and make you run like gumby.

Believe me, in the pro field, I would much rather blow right by the guys and continue on my own, but the reality is that is not an option and thus I am regulated to that spot in the group.

Again it is really circumstantial. It is easy to look back and say I should have raced out of xyz but hindsight is always 20-20. But you make some great points. You really have to assess if you want to do a TT and race against yourself, or have that real race feel where you are jockeying with your competitors. No right answer, both are different experiences on the same day.


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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [TennesseeJed] [ In reply to ]
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ericmulk wrote:

Personally, if you don't think you're going to make top 3 OA, then I'd say go in your AG wave so that you're eligible for awards. Doing a fast time may not feel all that satisfying if you sit through the awards and see guys who went slower getting awards.

x2. I'm the same AG as you. Did my first race in the Open/Elite wave back in a sprint race back June. There was only one other male and me in the open wave. I led the swim--he hung on my feet. Led on the bike and was slowed up by confused drivers as the police vehicle led the way. Ended up getting run down about 1 mile from the finish line. 2 other guys in the AG waves ended up a bit faster than me, so I fell out of overall and was the only one left in the open division. It was lame. They even forgot to call the open division (me) up for awards. I don't care, but it wasted about 2hours of my time waiting for a generic plaque. Meanwhile, the 30-34 AG winner was 4mins slower.

As TG eluded, if its a looped course, you're not going to have an open bike bath anyways. Race your AG, follow the rules and get the benefits that come within the rules, and try to win some hardware.

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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [way2sloow] [ In reply to ]
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Go Elite. If you're looking for a good race. The people up front will push you and you won't realize the extra effort you're putting in until you see the results. I've been doing open/elite wave at a local sprint series for 3 years now and keeps getting faster. It doesn't get as hot in this wave, less crowded, and better competition.
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [way2sloow] [ In reply to ]
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I have had the chance to sign up for elite and always found it weird to proclaim yourself as elite. Most sports have some sort of criteria to move up a level - cycling, sailing, swim teams, etc. In Tri, you just check a box in the entry form and voila! you are elite. I guess it's just me but it seems as though there should be something that makes you elite, some sort of standards that you have met. I raced AG because of that and started with the AG'ers while the elites went off the front. It didn't bother me although this past weekend, the guys on the podium told me they were mad I didn't race elite. Would I have been faster in elite? I don't know, pretty small race it may have made a little difference. The 3rd OA guy was 4 seconds faster than me so it would have come down to a sprint, who knows who would have won. I don't mind there being an elite wave, just find it odd there isn't criteria for it other than your own mind.
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [TennesseeJed] [ In reply to ]
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The clincher for me is that your other option is being in the 3rd last wave... go with the elite wave
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [TennesseeJed] [ In reply to ]
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My advice is don't overthink it. Race elite. Race AG. It ultimately won't affect you that much.

Sounds like you haven't raced a ton. And sounds like you are faster than slower. So if you plan to race more in the future...get ready to always have to pass people (i.e. get over "getting annoyed"). In triathlons of any size, you always have to deal with stuff. Just part of the game. So embrace it, hammer, and let the chips fall where they may.
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [GoJohnnyGo] [ In reply to ]
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GoJohnnyGo wrote:
The clincher for me is that your other option is being in the 3rd last wave... go with the elite wave

This! I just raced a duathlon today that put us on the bike mid-pack for sprint, oly and try-a-tri triathlons running concurrently. I didn't feel safe on the road. People riding 3 abreast, not all the way to the right (large shoulder even!), passing by going fully into the middle of the car lane.
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [TennesseeJed] [ In reply to ]
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You could get in Elite wave because of what it implies. Are you winning your age group? Do you commonly place top 5 overall amateur?
Is it an experience that you are competing against other elite amateurs and can really see what you can do?
Sure you may have a cleaner course. But it's also not uncommon to win a race from the 7th wave.
But if you value above all. Racing! Pushing your limits. Then Go in the field with like minded individuals.
Just my 2 cents.

Jim Hallberg
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [TennesseeJed] [ In reply to ]
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So - how did it go?

Started triathlons to get girls, and continued to be better than people.
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Re: Racing in Elite Wave vs. Age Group Wave [GLindy] [ In reply to ]
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GLindy wrote:
As for the elite AG question, we just had the Boulder Peak make its return to Boulder and it was a lot of fun. We had an elite AG wave start behind the women pros and I would bet I went faster in that wave than if I started in my typical AG wave because I was pushing myself against some very fast guys and chasing and being chased. That counts for something in motivation.

it would appear as though the top 3 AG'ers, however, did NOT race in the Elite wave according to the results?

That being said, I would always choose to race where I felt I belonged. If I'm trying to place in the overall rankings I'm going to choose an "elite" wave rather than my AG wave.
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