First, the logistics stuff. Dual transitions is already an extra layer of coordination. They had buses to take everyone from T2/finish to the swim start and T1 in the morning starting at 4:45am. I got on an early bus but apparently there were still plenty of people waiting to load up at T2/finish at 6:30 - the Pros were supposed to start at 6:30. I guess it all worked out but caused some anxiety. I've done one other race with double transitions (RI 70.3) and they required everyone to have their bike-run transition set up the evening before the race and no access on race morning. The only thing to do race morning was get on a bus and get to the start. Then, T1 bags with our wetsuits didn't show up at the finish until something like 1pm - everyone was out of T1 by probably 9am. One of the volunteers said it was traffic. Williamsburg does have a lot of traffic in the summer but we're talking 5 miles so they clearly didn't start loading up everything for transport as soon as they could have.
Now for the mistakes. #1 - Not enough safety personnel on the swim. One of the athletes I coach actually had to help 2 people out on the swim course because she saw they waving their arms for help but there wasn't anyone around to see them. No doubt the difficult swim (see below) got them panicking in the first place but you need to have enough kayaks, paddleboards, and boats to keep an eye on the entire course or someone is going to die out there. #2 - there was absolutely no water or fluids of any kind available at the expo - not even a vendor selling drinks. At the very least have some big water coolers for people to fill a bottle from. #3 - One aid station ran out of ice very early in the race. I was running top 10 overall amateur and they were already out of ice by the time I got there (the Oly distance race has gone through previously. They seemed to take care of it because they had ice again on my next lap through. Still, sufficient stocking of aid stations for a hot and humid day is race management 101. Even the pros were grumbling about waiting around for their bags. #4 - post-race food was average at best - pasta, meatballs, and salad. Nothing wrong with it but I expected better. I also heard there was no food for the Oly athletes when they finished for a good while. They also had absolutely no drinks with the food. At least throw out some kiddie pools with ice and soda like every other race.
And the last point is a combination race management and logistics. The swim was in a tidal river. The current flows both directions depending on the state of the tide. They had us swim the long side of the course (probably close to 3/4 mile) into the tidal flow and it was moving pretty good. Check the swim times - SLOW. A slow swim isn't necessarily an issue but from what I hear there were a lot of athletes pulled from the water who simply couldn't make any progress against the current after turning the first buoy. For a company that bills their events as a little more on the family friendly side, they should have ensured the swim went WITH the current. How many spouses and kids ended up with a loved one DNF'ing 15min into their day? Tides aren't a mystery and it's not black magic like weather forecasting. There are tide tables that tell you exactly when high, low, and slack tide is well into the future. The swim start and finish were within 50m of each other. They could have easily reversed the direction race morning if necessary but it shouldn't have even come to that.
So I wrote this post not to bitch but to offer up constructive criticism. I've never managed a race before and there's plenty I don't know about doing it. So maybe there are valid reasons or challenges for some of these things but I heard similar issues from multiple people so I know it's not just my impression. This race is local to me so I want it to continue and improve in the future. There are a lot of things Rev3 did well and I enjoyed the event overall despite having a bit of a melt down on the run (my issue to deal with). If they focus on the handful of issues I'm sure they'll have a kick-ass event next year.