Login required to started new threads

Login required to post replies

Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland
Quote | Reply
well, i did a race.

honest!

yesterday i drove just 45 minutes down the road to stansstad, switzerland, to do an event that had been on my radar for a while, pre-COVID, but that became one of the only options around as races started getting cancelled.

the idea of the helveticman is that it's an 'extreme tri' in the style of norseman etc., but over the half distance. i'm really drawn to this sort of racing - small fields, adventurous courses, something a bit more wild - but my life these days definitely doesn't allow for IM training. and anyway, i figured this course would provide a near enough challenge:





swim:
race day conditions were perfect: warm and still with a bit of cloud. the water was just a little chilly, but comfortable. my only goal for the swim was to get out of the water having spent a minimum of energy. that strategy worked: my swim training has been really meagre, but i have a lot of open-water background and just found some good feet. the minute i stepped back onshore my calf cramped - i thought, "this is going to be a long day," but in the end it turned out that constant twinges and niggles were just the norm in this race.

bike:
after T1 we rode for a few hundred meters before we were straight up a 14% grade. the first climb of the day was a bit of an appetizer, and it was nice to not feel gassed from the swim. we then rolled a bit before the 2nd climb of the day, when things started to bite a little. it was getting hot, the descent was fast and twisty, but i was still in good spirits. before the race i'd installed a huge new cassette on my bike, and was glad for it - having a 30 back there was a relief and i wasn't too proud to use it. just about everyone was on an aero road bike, and i didn't envy the guys climbing and descending on big aero sleds with bullhorns and bar-end shifters. i was on my ancient cervelo soloist (aluminum), which turned no heads but was reliable as ever.
the final climb of the day was bonkers, crossing covered bridges, winding up tiny farmer's roads, and eventually passing by the cable car stations to move beyond the tree line. i did start to hit a low around 70k or so, but some gels and patience took care of that.

run:
after a quick-ish transition i headed out for the run and my troubles began. not speaking the dialect and not running with a mapping GPS meant that i followed along when the volunteers said, "that way!" it turns out they sent me to do the 2nd loop first, and the 1st loop second. (the run is a sort of figure-8 with the start/finish in the middle.) i had started wondering why the aid stations weren't matching up with my cue sheet, and where all the good runners i'd seen in my first hour had disappeared to. it's too bad, as i'd held my own with those guys. the course was great - way up on an alpine meadow around some lakes, up and down some rocky, technical singletrack and cruisy, grassy trails.
almost immediately on the run my belly felt off - kind of bloated, vaguely nauseous. i was running fine but not feeling particularly thirsty or hungry, which is ominous. probably a result of having a few kilos of maurten drink and gel congealed in my gut. so i switched over to trusty old coke (don't we all?) and chugged along, but didn't get any better. approaching the finish from the wrong direction, another helpful volunteer thought i was a BOPer and sent me out for another loop. my watch said i'd nearly done the full half already - maybe i just needed to do a little out and back or something? i run-walked along for a while - suffering, at this point - before checking notes with a fellow athlete and realizing i'd been sent wrong. i turned around and ran back, having covered something like 24k by the end. i was . . . spent. it turns out a few of the athletes i'd been leading on the run were in the same boat, but being local they'd cleared things up at the finish turn off. argh . . . german lessons!


overall, a great day, though i really wished i could've tested myself against the field better on the run. i'm 40 now and did my first olympic tri when i was 15. in that time i've done a lot: coach, race director, long-course, short-course, winter, summer, indoor, outdoor, du, aquathlon, draft-legal, off-road . . . you name it. i've been a national champ and dead effing last. but lately it's been really hard to find the sense of adventure that made me fall in love with tri in the first place. well, this brought it back. low frills, great camaraderie, and a sense of "is this crazy?" that lasted all day. the course was stunningly beautiful all day, and athletes were cool.

this race was definitely what i needed, and at the risk going to far, maybe it's what triathlon needs too. it will really suck if events go under because of COVID. on the other hand, maybe this is an opportunity to rediscover the joy of multisport in a different way.

either way, this one was an epic.

____________________________________
https://lshtm.academia.edu/MikeCallaghan

http://howtobeswiss.blogspot.ch/
Last edited by: iron_mike: Sep 6, 20 12:13
Quote Reply
Re: Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland [iron_mike] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
This is a great report and I really like the idea on super tough half ironman diatance races. I was looking at Alpe d'Huez tri before all these restrictions kicked in
Quote Reply
Re: Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
Very cool race report — thanks! It sounds like an event worth doing in 2021 or 22.
Having lived in the general region, I can well imagine that conversing in one of the dialects would have been challenging. But (High) German would have been of limited help. As you certainly already know, even if you know German, you still to learn the local version 😃
I’ll definitely have to check this one out.
Quote Reply
Re: Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland [iron_mike] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
Great report, I also did Helveticman on Saturday, I entered at the last minute following the abandonment of Challenge Davos the previous weekend. What a complete contrast the weather was, pefect for running the event. Dianna and Peter put on a superb event, as you say, low key, relaxed, and pretty well organised.... At least I managed to go the right way on the run after a young girl who was marshalling called me back to run the correct first loop.

Things that I loved:
Run and swim bags and all the event stuff being sent to me in the mail so that I could short myself out in the comfort of my home
Being able to turn up at 0600 on the morning, rack bike and get ready
Beautiful swim, couldn't have asked for a nicer swim course
I love riding up mountains, so was in my element on this bike course. The climb from Stockalp to Melchsee Frutt, 900m gain over 7.9km, avg gradient 11.4% was a tough one, but I loved it
Dianna and Peter are both very experienced Ultra Runners, and love tough off road courses, so I knew that the run would be challenging.... and I was not disappointed. It takes a lot to reduce me to walking on a run, but there were 3 places where the gradient was so steep that it was faster walking than try to jog. I have never completed a Half Marathon at 2200m before and have never run a half marathon directly off the back of an 1100m climb - was a bit of a learning experience to say the least, but pleased with my run time of 2h5m (off road with 840m elevation)


Could have been better?
Very little. The first climb, I blindly followed the bikes ahead, and ignored the route loaded into my Garmin. When it said do a U turn, I should have followed this instruction rather than riding an extra km to the end of the road..... and then have to repass loads of people who I already passed on the climb. I think that a bike chalk road marking saying turn here could have helped


Earlier this summer I did Triverest (Also organised by Dianna and Peter), It is without any doubt the best event I have ever done. Helveticman is now my second favourite event. Triverest is not something to be undertaken lightly, while Helveticman is a fantastic way to spend a Saturday, and then get on with the rest of the weekend (OK I know that I am a little bit fitter than average)

Given the Corona Virus situation, this may be the future of triathlons, small, well organised, low key events. For an experienced triathlete, Helveticman and Triverest are better in almost every respect than an IM or IM70.3
Quote Reply
Re: Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland [Flemish Arrow] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
Flemish Arrow wrote:
Very cool race report — thanks! It sounds like an event worth doing in 2021 or 22.
Having lived in the general region, I can well imagine that conversing in one of the dialects would have been challenging. But (High) German would have been of limited help. As you certainly already know, even if you know German, you still to learn the local version 😃
I’ll definitely have to check this one out.


yeah, it's a dilemma. on the one hand, it's our responsibility as athletes to know the course and follow it. on the other hand, aren't we supposed to obey the race staff when they direct us? and after you've been on the move for 6 hours and are accordingly knackered, following directions in your 5th language is a bit tough . .

____________________________________
https://lshtm.academia.edu/MikeCallaghan

http://howtobeswiss.blogspot.ch/
Quote Reply
Re: Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland [mattsurf] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
agree with a lot of what you've said. the first climb up to burgenstock i also got a bit turned around with a group of other riders. similarly on the run, of course - where was that young girl when I needed her?! i also missed one turn early on in the bike, but spotted it quickly. all in the bike stuff only cost me a couple of minutes, which is tolerable in a long day. the run mistakes probably cost me 20+ minutes, because by that point my pace was awful.

i ride with an old garmin edge 500 and run with an old vivoactive 1. both give me distance/time but don't do mapping. i actually busted out my phone during the run and couldn't get a signal! so i'd probably suggest that for Helveticman a GPS is mandatory unless you're local and know the course well.

i also agree about recovery. i think the half distance is perfect for this - you can race hard and still feel like a human being the next day. i was supporting my wife at the Tagi tri on sunday and actually wish i'd registered for the sprint - i definitely could have jumped in. ironman/marathon is a great challenge, but the last 10k of the run just ruins people.

if this is the medium-term future of triathlon, i'm happy.

____________________________________
https://lshtm.academia.edu/MikeCallaghan

http://howtobeswiss.blogspot.ch/
Quote Reply
Re: Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland [iron_mike] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
iron_mike wrote:

i ride with an old garmin edge 500 and run with an old vivoactive 1. both give me distance/time but don't do mapping. i actually busted out my phone during the run and couldn't get a signal! so i'd probably suggest that for Helveticman a GPS is mandatory unless you're local and know the course well.

Dianna and Peter are primarily ultra runners, and I think that their mindset is a little different to typical IM triathletes, it's alot more about self supporting and self navigation (It also adds to the enjoyment). Luckily when I did Triverest, my sherpa was a very experienced ultra runner, who did a brilliant job of navigating the run.... even though it was supposed to have been marked, there is no way I would have managed to find my way solo. So to some extent I knew what to expect with Helveticman, and to be fair it was marked reasonably well. On the bike I would say that a decent GPS is essential, on the run it wasn't necessary so long as you get onto the correct first loop, I was also lucky that I was running with a couple of other people. The Aid stations were pretty well distributed, as I was relatively near the front, they were also well stocked

After the race I decided to cycle back to Stansstad, I was a little surprised that people were still riding up the final climb at 3:30pm - I guess they missed the run cutoff.
Quote Reply
Re: Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland [mattsurf] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
Congrats....did I read 840m of vertical on the run while doing it at 2200m above msl on technical offroad and you still pulled off a 2:05
Quote Reply
Re: Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
devashish_paul wrote:
Congrats....did I read 840m of vertical on the run while doing it at 2200m above msl on technical offroad and you still pulled off a 2:05

Yes, and had a tumble
Quote Reply
Re: Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland [mattsurf] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
mattsurf wrote:
devashish_paul wrote:
Congrats....did I read 840m of vertical on the run while doing it at 2200m above msl on technical offroad and you still pulled off a 2:05


Yes, and had a tumble

How technical are the downhills (and how steep)? I do a 220m vertical in a 6 km run and it just feels like always up or down steep stuff. Doing that ~4x at 2200m seems unfathomable (plus you broke 6 min per km pace)
Quote Reply
Re: Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland [devashish_paul] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
there was one segment of trail that had a rope bolted into the wall to help you up. as it turned out it wasn't at all necessary, but it looked really badass! that was on an out-and-back section, and the on the way down that hill i flew, and made some nice time. there was one long lonely climb that was sort of hands-on-knees walking, for me, and would've been a bit rough to descend.
otherwise not really technical. more just slow in some parts - muddy, rutted, a bit of hopscotch that is slightly more demanding on tired legs (and tired brains).

____________________________________
https://lshtm.academia.edu/MikeCallaghan

http://howtobeswiss.blogspot.ch/
Quote Reply
Re: Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland [iron_mike] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
First downhill was pretty short, very steep, but on a good gravel surface. Then there was a long grueling climb (220m in 1.3km), I had 2 guys ahead of me, I closed up on them pretty well by keeping running, but for the final 25% resorted to a power walk. and passed one of the guys. Then there was a rocky narrow path, mainly downhill, but not steep, Needed to pay real attention to finding a clear route. I was stuck behind the other guy for quite a bit as no way I could get passed. Then there was a series of steps (well logs actually) on a steep winding descent. The next 8km was on very well maintained gravel tracks, with a few sections of tarmac before turning down a long steep hill, which descended 200m over 1.4km, the surface was good and no turns, however, there was a rope at one point (not really necessary). At the bottom was the turn around, and climbed back up (more power walking). I had a fall just here, 2 Mountain bikes were behind me, being dicks, and some walkers and runners coming towards me, I didn't watch my footing and took a fall, grazed my knee, hands, forehead and cheek, luckily nothing serious, but made me look pretty banged up. The final climb was only 40m but almost a scramble in some places. The final 3km were downhill, with some uneven / rocky surfaces
Quote Reply
Re: Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland [iron_mike] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
Ironically, your report seems to be in Arial

Good job!


"Isn't RandMart the old punk rock dude who had the crazy ex? Then this post checks out"

Stop-Think-Consider-Do
Quote Reply
Re: Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland [RandMart] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
i think the swiss are OK with this as long as there are no serifs. bust out some times roman and you're likely to get yourself into a fight.

____________________________________
https://lshtm.academia.edu/MikeCallaghan

http://howtobeswiss.blogspot.ch/
Quote Reply
Re: Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland [iron_mike] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
iron_mike wrote:
i think the swiss are OK with this as long as there are no serifs. bust out some times roman and you're likely to get yourself into a fight.


They got some QA issues then, cuz I see some feet on there




Could be worse, MUCH worse

"Isn't RandMart the old punk rock dude who had the crazy ex? Then this post checks out"

Stop-Think-Consider-Do
Quote Reply
Re: Race Report: Helveticman half, Switzerland [RandMart] [ In reply to ]
Quote | Reply
Nooooo!!!

____________________________________
https://lshtm.academia.edu/MikeCallaghan

http://howtobeswiss.blogspot.ch/
Quote Reply