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Anyone else in for this race? What is your plan for refueling with your race crew?
Anyone race it in 2017? Any tips?
There is also a cool video documentary that was put together on last years race: https://vimeo.com/261046226
I'm in. I did Norseman 2016 so my wife and I have our system down.
Do you plan to have 1 or 2 people supporting you? Just have your support leap-frog ahead of you by about 30 minutes (say 10 miles)...(BTW, first support is a fair bit out of town, I'd have to check but it might be on the order of 45-50km which might be the only time you'd want all 3 bottles unless it is a really hot day). If you take liquid nutrition, have your "liquid food" in one color bottle, and water in the the other. That way when you are biking up to your support person, you can hold up whatever color bottle you need and be seen at a distance. That way you can drop the bottle in front of your support and they can hand up the full one as you bike by. If you need more stuff, then just stop at the back of the car and load up...it only takes 15-20 seconds.
For the run, have them leap-frog ahead every 2-3 miles or whatever interval you like to see on a supported race. Every mile is hard, so practice a handoff every 20-30 run minutes.
I'd recommend you go out on a long weekend ride and practice 1-2x before the race to work out your system and calm everyone's nerves. Prepped food in the cooler, or easily mixed food at the ready is always helpful. Also, have your support practice putting the bike on the auto bike-rack/in the car at T2.
EDIT: if you get the timing right, have the crew mix up the liquid nutrition after you have a bottle handup but before they drive to the next stop. That will let you get a bit ahead of the support car. This is nice as it can limit the time you might be at the side of the road with a bike breakdown. Get a bit ahead (5-10 minutes), then the support car will drive by -- give a "thumbs up" if all is well, and if you don't show up within 15 minutes of the next handoff then the crew can decide that maybe you've had a bike breakdown and they can circle back on the route to find you and your mechanical issue.
Swim - nothing much different than your standard iron distance swim, apart maybe that it will be darker? Expect cold water as well, even if it's July. Many people were shivering after the swim last year. Don't run for nothing in T1 - the path was very slippery after 10 swimmers last year and many people slipped and crashed - that would be a very bad way to end the day... I'd recommend a complete clothes change both at T1 and T2, you got time. Girl that finished 3rd last year spent about 15min in T2 eating a pizza.
Bike - I rode 50/34 + 11/32 last year. 39/32 or 34/28 would probably work well depending on you strength as a cyclist. There are are four "bigger climbs" but it's not, say, the climb at 70.3 Worlds in Chattanooga. Right after the start is a medium length but not too abrupt climb, which you'll redo around 110k. 85k has a steeper but shorter climb, and the last climb at 179k is quite steep especially on tired legs, but not very long. Many walked it last year or snaked all the way to the top. Just leave some gas in the tank. My crew waited for me at every toilet stop (they are listed in the manual). I carried most of my food / drinks so I just waved if all was fine. Basically I refilled once around 60k because I had to stop to drop my long sleeves at that point, and another time around 100k because I used the toilet as well. I might have stopped a third time, unsure. TLDR: it has more than your average D+, but it's not really nasty long climbs, just an accumulation of rolling hills.
Run: Two pair of shoes, I'd recommend switching at 28k and not at T3. The 4k before T3 is nasty business. I'll have an Orange Mud vest all the time. Trekking poles useful but personal choice, not necessary. If you think you will run late, make sure you have batteries and extra frontal - the trail is very brutal if you run out of light. Bring a jacket as well, it is very cold near the top of the mountain.
Otherwise enjoy the views. It's a really nice place, and I recall one view when coming on the bike, around 35k, before reentering town where you see the lake on your left - beautiful.
If you have the stomach, ask your crew to have pocket change at T2 and get a hot dog or a cheeseburger :) I probably will!
Topo Athletic Canada Ambassador - MYCODE10GUILL
The swim was beautiful with the full moon setting on one side of the lake and sun rising on the other - so breathe on both sides! It was a little wavy for the first 2 k but calmed as one got closer to the beach.
Iâ€™m surprised lordhong downplays the bike and the multitude and magnitude of climbs. Perhaps he is much younger and has far more testosterone than I do. ( if he is male, he should!) I also did Chat 70.3 worlds and this event was much harder than that or anything else I have ever attempted.
I took more than 2.5 hours longer on the bike than I did at Tremblant IM with similar conditioning.
So for assisting, I had a large cooler in the vehicle as well as pretzels, gels, bananas etc. It was easy to receive and throw empty bottles to my team. I could have labelled my bottles better as my assistant had some trouble telling some of my mixes apart.
Plan a second cooler for the assistant- itâ€™s a really long day for them! Also needed a jacket when a cool thunderstorm came through and it was good to have.
I was prepped with more gels, fluids, food and clothing for the run. Be aware the final 8 k climb took some 2-3 hours and it was cool and dark. Plan for it. I retired before the shoe sucking mud part.
If you plan for a long day and you have trained, you will be rewarded with a spectacular event!
Post your race report please! Be safe! Have fun!
Swim was a bit of a mess. Very few buoys compared to a normal IM race and with the 430am start it was still dark out. For the first 25 minutes it was a traffic jam. Water was a bit chilly but thankfully not as cold as the year before. Fastest swim was 56 minutes from what I can see...my garmin recorded a bit over 4km.
Bike course was pretty difficult - since we were on our bikes by 6am it was still cold out (around 8 degrees c). By 10 however the temperature shot up and the sun was out in full force. I should have done more research but ended up riding it with a 90mm front and disc rear (my normal triathlon set up). Climbing on it was not fun. I got through most of the climbs but decided to drop out at KM 130. Highly recommend a road bike for this course.
I'm happy I dropped out when I did; looking now at the results I see that most people had to, more or less, walk the entire marathon (saw there were a few 20 hour finishes). If I pushed it until the end I know I would have burned all my matches and I want to be fresh and ready for IM Tremblant (A race this year).
My support crew was awesome however and I really enjoyed the race and scenery. Town is lovely and so are the people. The organizers do a great job for having so few volunteers.
All that meant cramps a plenty for me even pounding ridiculous amounts of fluids and salt, and I had to push the bike up probably the last 30 miles of hills. I'd done Celtman three weeks prior and those climbs were more long and draggy around 5%, these were a dozen or more over 10%, just not doable for me without seizing up/falling over. Made the very much lenient bike cutoff by 9 minutes, made the even more lenient T3 run cutoff by 2 minutes (had to do 21 miles in 5 hours, with last few on very technical (25min/mile) terrain). Got to do the mountain trail, finished on top second to last, after midnight, insanely long elapsed time of 20 hours+.
Amazing challenge, extreme race, probably the hardest thing I've ever done, but that's a direct result of preferring the cold (Celtman was great in that respect) and wilting in the heat. Was lucky enough to have an awesome complete stranger support me and we got along great, even though she probably had no idea what she was signing up for when volunteering.
12 hour drive back home Monday sucked though. It's a long way up there from VA.
We arrived in the area a few days earlier, staying in a lake home in Piopolis. You bike through / to that town twice on the bike course. I bike both north and south of that town to get a feel for the bike course, and we drove portions of the road run course as well. Lots and lots of steep punchy hills with plenty of climbs in excess of 10% grades.
Race day swim went fairly well. The start was a bit confusing right away as all competitors have on white strobe lights as do the kayakers and buoys. A group I was swimming with followed a kayak, who was trying to stay outside us. He kept moving rightish, the group veered with him following the strobe, and we had some extra yards working our way back to the turn buoy. As has happened most of the summer for me, after about 35 minutes I've been experiencing calf cramps on longer swims. And right on cue both lower legs cramped and I had to head to a kayak to work out the knots for a bit. My pace was good up to that point, and backed down for the remainder of the swim with only two more painful interludes. Even with the cramps I swam a 1:15 which was right in the range I expected.
I've been biking really well this year, with a bike camp in Brevard NC for the mountains, the American TTT and lots of hill work. I run a 52/36 chainring with 11/32 cassette on all my road bikes, and this worked well for most hills. Here, the hills and rollers are relentless. There are really only two flatter sections on the course (bottom of the lake early in the bike, and just before the final climb). Otherwise, you have to be patient and measured in your biking. Even with that, I still had a high VI, TSS of 330 and overdid it on the bike. The last climb is evil; only 10k to go and you have to go up and up with the steepest pitch right at transition. I had a 6:30 bike split, which put me near the top of my AG, but I knew I was in trouble.
The run isn't described properly for what it is. Right out of transition you have a steep 400' gravel climb up, then down, with most people not able to run down the loose gravel without falling. I and several others around me had to walk sideways to keep our footing at times on the first downhill. And that is within the first 2k of the "run".
There are four off-road sections, one long exposed run section and then some other portions. That first portion of the run got my attention but was able to settle into a steady yet slow place and finally found my legs around mile 6. There is a second off road section with is deep mowed hay and grass and mud and then some steeper pitches, but that went OK for me as well.
The final two off road sections was where I knew I was done. I was hoping in advance to get to this point in about 3 hours or so but was already an hour off pace, and had a stomach not wanting another gel or gatoraide so the food intake tapered as well. The four miles of offroad section 3 can be generously described as a bog with ankle deep mud sucking my shoes off several times (trail shoes with stiff soles and tight laces highly recommended). In these sections I think I recorded my first 30-minute mile. At T3 I changed shoes, picked up my son (as run crew), drank a V8 and knew it was a death march the remainder of the way. My son wanted to "run" and was ribbing me about the pace, but he piped down after about 45 minutes of bouldering and tree root tripping. I knew he got it that this was hard when we crested Mont St. Joseph, he looked across the valley and spotted Mont Megantic observatory and said, "Wait, we have to go THERE?".
I hiked the remainder of the way as the calf cramps and now really sore Achilles tendon on my right foot were letting me know they aren't happy. Also, you know how you feel trying to walk down stairs the day after an Ironman race?? How unhappy the quads are? They were letting me be very unhappy so I was climbing and descending gently. At this point you can hear the finish announcements from across the valley, and for 5-6km you think you are "just about there" but, no, not really. I finally finished the run in a 7:30, which is the first time a run time exceeded the bike time.
Total race time was 15:36 and I was glad to finish before sunset. I ended up 6 / 23 in my AG. And I think the median finish time was 17:00 or 17:30.
As usual with the Xtri races (I did Norseman in 2016 in horrendous weather -- it got down to 34 F degrees and rain on the bike) there is the Movable Circus feel to the race. Support teams keep leaping ahead of their racers, so you get to know several of the teams as you continually pass. And each team, and all the locals out supporting or cheering on the race, were fantastic. But this race is hard, real hard. And beautiful.
My bike was fine, finished with a controlled 6:23. The run was challenging the whole way, but the last 13k I was out of my element. It took me over 3 hours even though I still felt okay, well hydrated and nourished. If you are thinking of doing this race get to steep technical ski areas and train the climbs and descents. It is more rock climbing and scrambling than running. I'm already looking for poles.
Re; heat and sun, I wore arm sleeves the whole race. I'm surprised more don't wear them. I feel cooler with them on, no direct sun on the skin. And when you keep them wet on the run they feel awesome! I kept getting ice wrapped in a bandana that I tied around my neck each time I saw my crew on the run, felt great! I finished in 20th overall in13:54... Extreme indeed.
Congrats to everyone who toed the start line!
Swim went ok for me - I'm a terrible swimmer and it was my first 3.8km swim. I had planned a conservative 1:40 - like others I had a few problems with early buoys (the large ones were illuminated, but the small ones were not, and I had issues seeing them in the dark in the early part of the swim). 1:41, which, while slow, I was totally happy with.
I had done the bike as relay in 2017, so I know what to expect. I had planned 6:45 on the bike, about the same as last year but with better legs, I expected the effort to be slightly more conservative. However, there was definitely more wind than last year... Ended up around 6:55, which I was again fine. Or maybe it wasn't...
Coming out of T2, steep climb like mentioned but then legs were fine, which was what I hoped. Settled around 4:50/km and it felt great... until the hay / grass part. At that point I started alternating 900m/100m run/walk and maintained a decent pace, but food wasn't going in, and that hit me hard right before the last 13k, which was done mostly in power hiking mode with no running. Finished at 15:26 and since I had not set any total time target, I was happy. I might have pushed too much on the bike or early parts of the run, I'll never know and I don't really want to dwell on that, except maybe to solve the food not going issue. But heck, who ever heard of food not going in during an Ironman anyway ;)
Having my buddy (assistant), wife and daughters all day with me made it a great day anyway.
Topo Athletic Canada Ambassador - MYCODE10GUILL