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IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?!
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Last year this forum was buzzing about the draft packs in IMTX 2018. According to Daniel Clarke's video, It appears the problem was solved, or at least greatly mitigated in 2019 with a slower rolling start at the swim and draft penalties actively being enforced.

Video: https://triathlonmagazine.ca/...-ironman-texas-2019/

Was this truly the case? I know for me, after seeing the drafting coverage I was sour'd on the idea of ever racing IMTX. The same with IMFL. I'm just not a fan of participating in races that have a reputation for drafting.
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [BT_DreamChaser] [ In reply to ]
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Then you won't be racing most WTC races.

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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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desert dude wrote:
Then you won't be racing most WTC races.

I've done my fair share of WTC races and in the past decade plus and only seen a draft pack, as shown in Texas, once.
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [BT_DreamChaser] [ In reply to ]
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I wasn't there last year but this year seemed really reasonable to me. I was towards the front in the 4:4x:xx area. There were relatively legal pacing lines with 12m spacing and I saw no packs of riders blatantly drafting. As per usual there's always a 'clinger' that will suck a wheel around the 3-8m distance but those are "1 offs" in every race. From my vantage point the race was clean. And importantly the distance was a legit 112 miles unlike the 108-109 distance last year. Glenn Bohannon's group did a great job.
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [rockchalk] [ In reply to ]
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rockchalk wrote:
I wasn't there last year but this year seemed really reasonable to me. I was towards the front in the 4:4x:xx area. There were relatively legal pacing lines with 12m spacing and I saw no packs of riders blatantly drafting. As per usual there's always a 'clinger' that will suck a wheel around the 3-8m distance but those are "1 offs" in every race. From my vantage point the race was clean. And importantly the distance was a legit 112 miles unlike the 108-109 distance last year. Glenn Bohannon's group did a great job.

Good to hear!
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [BT_DreamChaser] [ In reply to ]
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I raced this year. I personally didn't see any huge packs like 2018, but there were definitely some smaller packs. I got swallowed up by a group of about 15 fairly early on the Hardy Toll road, and I hung back to let them blow by me. When I passed the first penalty tent, the entire group was in there. Every penalty tent I passed had people in it, and I saw marshals out on the course quite a bit. I think the fact that they were so visible and they were nailing people may have deterred more people.
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [IronScholar] [ In reply to ]
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This is great to hear. After last year's fiasco I never wanted to come back. But if they were able to legitimately police the course and actually keep the packs from forming, then maybe I'll take another crack at it.

My time from last year, staying out of the packs, would have gotten me a KQ this year. But last year I was 40th in AG.

Looks like overall the times are much more in line with "reality" (vs everyone who pack-rode themselves to a time they couldn't otherwise hope to attain)
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [IronScholar] [ In reply to ]
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In that video, were those "speed limited" zones or something?
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [g_lev] [ In reply to ]
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g_lev wrote:
My time from last year, staying out of the packs, would have gotten me a KQ this year. But last year I was 40th in AG.

Last year was a shorter course and I'm guessing much better wind conditions. Not downplaying your abilities, just saying there were other factors in play.
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [wcb] [ In reply to ]
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wcb wrote:
g_lev wrote:
My time from last year, staying out of the packs, would have gotten me a KQ this year. But last year I was 40th in AG.


Last year was a shorter course and I'm guessing much better wind conditions. Not downplaying your abilities, just saying there were other factors in play.

Of course, you can't compare the two exactly due to all sorts of factors. But the difference in AG placement for that time between this year and last year (40th vs 8th) is pretty staggering.
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [BT_DreamChaser] [ In reply to ]
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BT_DreamChaser wrote:
desert dude wrote:
Then you won't be racing most WTC races.

I've done my fair share of WTC races and in the past decade plus and only seen a draft pack, as shown in Texas, once.

Which WTC races have you done that you HAVEN'T seen a draft pack?

Also, where are you in said races meaning fop mop bop?

I'm genuinely curious. I haven't been in a single wtc race that hasn't had huge draft packs. It's a big part of why I try to support smaller independent races. I love the show WTC puts on so it's be neat to do a race without drafting
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [BT_DreamChaser] [ In reply to ]
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I raced IMTX in 2018 and again this year. From what I saw, the drafting problem was sufficiently addressed. I personally saw 8 blue card penalties given by marshals, and each time I passed the penalty tents they were full of people. As others said, I saw some drafting, but not huge packs.

I saw marshals all over the course, and I thought the Hardy Toll Road was well marked by cones to separate the lane for vehicles, northbound and southbound.

Overall, I was impressed with the outcome vs 2018, and I'll definitely be back. Hopefully a bit less wind next year :-)
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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davejustdave wrote:
BT_DreamChaser wrote:
desert dude wrote:
Then you won't be racing most WTC races.


I've done my fair share of WTC races and in the past decade plus and only seen a draft pack, as shown in Texas, once.


Which WTC races have you done that you HAVEN'T seen a draft pack?

Also, where are you in said races meaning fop mop bop?

I'm genuinely curious. I haven't been in a single wtc race that hasn't had huge draft packs. It's a big part of why I try to support smaller independent races. I love the show WTC puts on so it's be neat to do a race without drafting

In fairness most of my WTC race experience is in the northeast quadrant where the terrain is hillier, which obviously tends to work against draft packs. Of the 3X I've done Lake Placid 140.6 -- once I saw a draft pack on the out & back next to the river. It was actually quite funny cause there was a guy in the middle of the pack wearing a Yellow jersey and I yelled at them, "This isn't the Tour de France!" It did make a strong impression on me cause I'd never seen a draft pack like that before; and quite honestly, I've thankfully never seen one since.

Of the three flat WTC events I've done, 1X IMLOU, 3X @ Eagleman 70.3, 1 X AC 70.3 I've honestly never seen a draft pack! Yes, I've seen the occasional two to three-man wheel suckers flyby; but never a draft pack. 2X at Tremblant 140.6 I honestly saw zero drafting at all. I've also raced Ironman 1 X Poconos, 2X Rhode Island, 1X Syracuse and saw zero drafting -- and sadly all these races are no defunct. I've raced Quassy 70.3 4X (now Ironman Connecticut) and there was never a sniff of drafting, and I suspect that won't change under WTC due to the hilly nature for the course.

I'm an average MOP cyclist. My Bike times for a full IM range from 6:00 to 6:20 / 70.3 times range from 2:40 to 3:10.
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [RangersBouncy] [ In reply to ]
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RangersBouncy wrote:
I raced IMTX in 2018 and again this year. From what I saw, the drafting problem was sufficiently addressed. I personally saw 8 blue card penalties given by marshals, and each time I passed the penalty tents they were full of people. As others said, I saw some drafting, but not huge packs.

I saw marshals all over the course, and I thought the Hardy Toll Road was well marked by cones to separate the lane for vehicles, northbound and southbound.

Overall, I was impressed with the outcome vs 2018, and I'll definitely be back. Hopefully a bit less wind next year :-)

All this positive feedback puts IMTX back on my list of potential future WTC races. Thanks for sharing your experience.
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [BT_DreamChaser] [ In reply to ]
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I spent a few hours spectating on the Hardy in both 2018 and 2019.

People need to remember that the crapshow last year was a direct result of the Prince of Bahrain's entourage -- the cops pulled all motos from the course. It wasn't like Ironman just decided not to have any marshals show up that day. That said, it was both frustrating and terrifying to watch, knowing how dangerous those situations can be anyway, but especially on concrete. One woman fractured her skull. We'd all obviously like to see a clean, fair race, especially for those chasing KQs.

I was curious to see how IMTX would handle it this year and was happy that they came out in full force. I've never seen so many marshals in any triathlon, whether racing or spectating (we're talking dozens of races). I stood in the same spot for about 3 hours this time. The front of the race looked perfectly clean! I didn't even see a one-off drafter up front (not to say that didn't happen; just not where I could see).

I did see a few small "packs" -- all mid-packers, maybe 6-7 athletes total per group. Honestly, as is the case when I usually see slower "draft packs," they seemed to be formed by one person on the left not actually passing but incidentally blocking the people behind from passing. And then those people being frustrated as they wait to pass, but not maintaining the proper distance in the meantime... You know how it goes. I think a lot of it comes from ignorance and inexperience, although again to IMTX's credit, they seemed to really hammer home the drafting rules during the athlete briefings. Anyway, these are exactly the kinds of groups that become problematic/dangerous for the fast kids who are on loop 2. Luckily I saw motos talking to two of these groups so I imagine they had those fairly under control as well.

TLDR: I've raced IMTX twice on the old courses and last year had me questioning whether I'd feel safe/fair enough doing it with the Hardy now. This year gave the green light.
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [g_lev] [ In reply to ]
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wcb wrote:
g_lev wrote:
My time from last year, staying out of the packs, would have gotten me a KQ this year. But last year I was 40th in AG.


Last year was a shorter course and I'm guessing much better wind conditions. Not downplaying your abilities, just saying there were other factors in play.

Last year had ideal wind and better conditions overall, plus a shorter bike course.

To give you an idea of the effect of the different conditions from 2018 to 2019 (plus the correct bike mileage), look at Reid Foster's results. He raced a perfectly clean race both years (not only did it "look" clean from the side of the Hardy, but he had the fastest AG bike split both times and stats say there was no one to draft off of). Last year's bike = 4:20, this year's bike = 4:35. Overall time ~20 minutes slower in 2019 vs. 2018. He's on the pointy end and really rough math says conditions were about 4% slower. Obviously N=1, but adding 4% to 2018 times should give a basic idea of where it'd compare in 2019. (*Clearly talking about clean races here.)

Anecdotally, the "pointy end" seemed less stacked from the sidelines than in previous years. I think a lot of the fast kids were watching to see if it'd be a safe and fair race before putting all their KQ eggs in the Texas basket again. So that could play into the finish placement disparities you are seeing as well.
Last edited by: dAsh.: May 1, 19 13:07
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [davejustdave] [ In reply to ]
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davejustdave wrote:
BT_DreamChaser wrote:
desert dude wrote:
Then you won't be racing most WTC races.


I've done my fair share of WTC races and in the past decade plus and only seen a draft pack, as shown in Texas, once.


Which WTC races have you done that you HAVEN'T seen a draft pack?

Also, where are you in said races meaning fop mop bop?

I'm genuinely curious. I haven't been in a single wtc race that hasn't had huge draft packs. It's a big part of why I try to support smaller independent races. I love the show WTC puts on so it's be neat to do a race without drafting

what's your definition of huge? I saw the videos from last year's IM TX and I've never seen draft packs that large. I've typically seen them in the under 10 person range. Mostly 5ish people.
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [BT_DreamChaser] [ In reply to ]
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I was right at 6 hours on Saturday and only saw a few small 4-6 person packs. They weren't wheel to wheel either like the video from 2018. They were spaced out at least 3-4 meters and I think some of them just got caught going slightly faster speed to the person in front of them but couldn't pass because even faster riders were passing the whole group. Every penalty tent I saw had at least 2 people in them and I saw a marshal about every 10 miles. The techs also looked like marshals so I'm sure some of them deterred riders drafting since I saw a lot of them going up and down hardy toll road.
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [rockchalk] [ In reply to ]
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rockchalk wrote:
I wasn't there last year but this year seemed really reasonable to me. I was towards the front in the 4:4x:xx area. There were relatively legal pacing lines with 12m spacing and I saw no packs of riders blatantly drafting. As per usual there's always a 'clinger' that will suck a wheel around the 3-8m distance but those are "1 offs" in every race. From my vantage point the race was clean. And importantly the distance was a legit 112 miles unlike the 108-109 distance last year. Glenn Bohannon's group did a great job.

I rode a shade under 5 hours in the female pro field (after an utterly abysmal swim that erased any head start we got), and my husband rode 4:46-we both agreed with this. I had to do some sitting up and soft pedalling at times to drop back as pace lines passed me, but they were legal lines, not groups. I did see a couple of rogue wheelsuckers, but there were only a handful here and there who were pretty blatant. On the southbound trip out, I saw someone latched on get carded shortly after him and his unwitting ride went past me, and there was an official with the group ahead of me for quite some time, which was reassuring. There was a fairly sizable crowd at the first penalty tent, which was good to see, and helped break things up further.

Second lap was a little sketchy at times trying to navigate, especially at aide stations, although I actually felt like people were being better than usual at keeping right-most issues were just with anticipating when someone was going to move over to make a pass in front of me. I was also a little concerned with the pro vs amateur slipstreaming rules-having to move left before entering a draft zone meant that I was spending most of that lap towards the left of the lane, making it harder to get around me, so apologies if I caused anyone problems there. But, overall, after having heard stories of last year, I was expecting the worst, and found things pretty clean. Sure, I had times where I had to put in hard surges to pass a few people at once, and other times where I had to just be patient and slow down to drop back after being passed, but I felt like it was entirely possible to ride legally, and others were respecting that. Kudos to the race organizers for recognizing the problem, and taking steps to adequately address it.
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [jlh1750] [ In reply to ]
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I rode a shade under 5 hours in the female pro field (after an utterly abysmal swim that erased any head start we got), and my husband rode 4:46-//

SO who has to wash the dishes until the next husband and wife dual?? I had some lifeguard friends who were married that would only race in a local 2 mile swim every year, loser did the dishes for the entire year!!! I'll assume since you are pro and your husband an AG'er, that you might be pretty close?? And good to hear that people were able to race clean, if they wanted to of course...
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [monty] [ In reply to ]
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monty wrote:
I rode a shade under 5 hours in the female pro field (after an utterly abysmal swim that erased any head start we got), and my husband rode 4:46-//

SO who has to wash the dishes until the next husband and wife dual?? I had some lifeguard friends who were married that would only race in a local 2 mile swim every year, loser did the dishes for the entire year!!! I'll assume since you are pro and your husband an AG'er, that you might be pretty close?? And good to hear that people were able to race clean, if they wanted to of course...

Ha!!! It's always a rivalry, with a fair amount of trash talking, in this household. Sadly, he got me by 8min this time around, although at least that meant I still got to pass him back at mile 20 of the run. He's now trying to dodge my urging for a rematch in Tremblant. I think he has done more dishes than me since we got home, though...better not let him see this. Complicating factor here is that I did write his training plan. ;)
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [RangersBouncy] [ In reply to ]
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They also made it abundantly clear to stay off the shoulders in the briefings, turns out that was their plan for mitigating the drafting was to reserve those lanes for the officials. I got boxed in by a 10-15 rider peloton that went 3-wide so I sat up to drop back a little ways. Minutes later a moto came by and I saw them all in the tent at the turn at the bottom of the course.
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [IronScholar] [ In reply to ]
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What the marshals did in first part of race was awesome! I was hanging back from a group of maybe 12-15 guys. A marshal rolled up next to me and I pointed at the group (which at that point was a mix or legal and very not legal riding), he gave me a thumbs up.... speed ahead and started handing out cards!!! he stuck with the group till first penalty tent when 7-8 people in that group pulled in. Once he handed out the cards everyone spaced out legally as the official just kept going up and down the group. Mile 60-80 I did see smaller groups forming, but it was also a super congested race at that point. I had been super worried about the race being like last year since I mostly just hope for a good bike and to hang on for the run.

I agree with the officials being super visible out on the course just kept drafting down.

___________ https://www.instagram.com/toothengineer/ https://www.strava.com/dashboard https://slfmotion.com

2019: IMTX, Rookie, 70.3 Worlds, Lifetime Oly
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [BT_DreamChaser] [ In reply to ]
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There were definitely some folks working together, especially on lap 1. By lap two things had spaced out considerably and I saw 5-6 people in the penalty at the turnaround. The marshals were definitely out there, I personally saw them probably 8-10 times. While Texas is relatively flat, the overpasses did a fairly good job of breaking people up if they weren't intentionally drafting.

Team Zoot 2019
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Re: IMTX 2019 - Drafting Problem Solved?! [mickison] [ In reply to ]
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mickison wrote:
davejustdave wrote:
BT_DreamChaser wrote:
desert dude wrote:
Then you won't be racing most WTC races.


I've done my fair share of WTC races and in the past decade plus and only seen a draft pack, as shown in Texas, once.


Which WTC races have you done that you HAVEN'T seen a draft pack?

Also, where are you in said races meaning fop mop bop?

I'm genuinely curious. I haven't been in a single wtc race that hasn't had huge draft packs. It's a big part of why I try to support smaller independent races. I love the show WTC puts on so it's be neat to do a race without drafting

what's your definition of huge? I saw the videos from last year's IM TX and I've never seen draft packs that large. I've typically seen them in the under 10 person range. Mostly 5ish people.

Good point as its relative... so for my definition of huge? To me, over 30 is huge. Even at/near the front of WTC races I've done or volunteered at I've routinely seen packs as big or bigger.

But, in fairness, all the races I've been in or volunteered at were eithier relatively flat or the hills were in the latter portion of the bike.

I think hills early or throughout do a lot to break up packs.
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