Duathlon Worlds Gyor, Hungary -
Previwing the Course! Well, the weather in Gyor remains great and looks to stay this way into the weekend of racing! Temps in the upper 50s in the morning, climbing into the mid-70s by early afternoon, with gentle breezes - perfect for a fast course! Thursday about 15 of us from Team USA tried to jog the run course, but found that to be a daunting task, as we are quickly figuring out that road signs in Gyor are a rarity! Another problem we had is that the map showed a big sweeping left bend about 1/2 mi into the first run - something we could not find right away even though it was staring right at us in the form of an off-ramp from the nearby highway (and yes, the traffic was coming at us, so we did not even consider it an option). Friday we got to ride the bike course under the supervison of a police escort. The ride was more like a huge MS ride, with 900 cyclists following a police car at 10 mph while he lead us around the 14k course. As for the couse, it is very flat, and has numerous technical corners including five 180 degree turns for every lap (and we do 3 laps). Two of the U-turns require us to take a left from the main road, ride about 100 yds and do a U-turn back to the main road - somewhere the course designer is laughing at us! If you are traveling to a new race, it is so important to take the extra time to preview the course as it will save you many headaches come race day. I can not even begin to tell you how many stories I've heard of athletes missing turns in races. In fact I saw it happen just a few weeks ago at a duathlon near NYC. I was behind a guy who made not one, not two, but three wrong turns on the bike course which cost him a top 2 finish. This especially holds true for smaller races, where you might not have a group of equally paced athletes to follow on the bike or run. Same goes for checking out the transition area. Which way will you be entering from the swim or in my case, the first run. Where will you exit with your bike? And then, where will you re-enter with your bike and head out on the final run. All stuff you need to know. If you do have time, I find it very useful to bike or drive the bike course. See where the turns are, look for landmarks to help you. How is the road - any large potholes you need to be aware of? How about the hills. One race promoters idea of 'rolling hills' may not be your own and if that is the case, do you have the proper gearing? The right wheels? The course here in Gyor is flat save 2 bridges we ride over, but it does have five 180 degree turns on every lap! That is a lot of slowing down, turning and re-accelerating, and coupled with many right or left turns, I am seeing quite a few road bikes here (which tend to corner better than a triathlon bike). With very little to separate the riders (such as a nice climb), it is clear the course will be packed, and it will be hard for the pure cyclists like myself to really get going and get advantage on the runners. So it looks like a runners' race, and I am going to have to turn in an impressive opening 10k to stay competitive! My next post will be Race Day Prep and how things go for me and Team USA come Sunday!
Mikael Hanson, Cadence Cycling & Multisport, Director NYC