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Archive for August, 2011

70.3 European Championships

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

What’s an American doing racing European Champs?  Well, I’m over here in Europe for one.  And secondly, I needed a race.  An actual race race.  I even got a few days of rest leading in to this one…I didn’t have to ride my bike to it!  I had finally put in a good block of training, so it was time to see where that left me in the racing aspect.  So, it was off to Wiesbaden, Germany for the 70.3 European Championships race.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect other than a tough field.  All the hype leading in to the race was the fact that Michael Raelert had pulled out and was focusing on Vegas.  It still left no shortage of great athletes on the line.  And, a Saturday afternoon drive of part of the course also indicated that the strength of the field would be just one thing that made this race tough.  The bike was one of the tougher courses that I had seen…and this was from a car.  It was definitely worthy of a championship billing.  You had to not only be good a pedaling a bike…something most triathletes can do quite well…you also had to be good at handling a bike…something most triathletes are notoriously bad at.  Add to that the damp conditions that race morning brought, and it was again a championship worthy course.  For you U.S. folks, it was probably similar to the Wildflower bike course in terms of hills, but it had A LOT more turns and fast descents.

The swim was in a different location this year.  It was in  some sort of lake that appeared to be man made with a big crane in the middle and a ‘pipeline’ of some sort running from the crane to the shore.  How they fit 1.9km in that lake would have been a big question mark to most race directors.  Leave it to the Germans to figure it out.  The swim was out, right turn, u-turn, turn left around the crane, swim straight for a bit, get out and run about 10m, and then back in the water for 550m or so.  Did you get that?  Neither did most of us, but there were enough buoys that it was actually quite straightforward.  I had forgotten a bit about the race start intensity, but managed it ok.  My swim was about average.  I was solidly in the main pack until the 10m run across the land where my 1,2,3 and dive became a 1,2,3 and sink as the ground suddenly disappeared below me.  I was dead in the water, but recovered enough to grab back on the pack and exit in a good position.

Once again, nothing like a championship race to dust off the cobwebs.  The run out of the water saw me just about get dropped before the bike even started.  But, I had a decent transition…not ITU style but decent…and was on the bike at the tail end of the bunch.  I kept the pack to that oh so painful 10-20 second gap for about 15-20k and then I was in no man’s land.  I would stay here with 1s and 2s passing me until about 45k into the ride.  I settled down and quite worrying about that, and just started to ride the 2nd half of the ride well.  Slowly, I reeled in about 4-5 who had passed me and dropped 2 that I was riding with.  Richie Cunningham and Sebastian Kienle had crashed about 35k into the ride, and I had no idea where I was in the field as we came to the end of the ride.  I had no idea how much time I had lost, but I figured on probably 10 minutes.  A short glance at the splits showed about a 8 minute gap to Mathias Hecht who had one of the quickest rides.  And, most of that time was in the first 40k, so good and bad.  8 minutes is still a lot of time, but I minimized the damage late in the ride.

On the run, I just figured I’d run as well as I could for each of the 4 laps.  I picked off a 1 or 2 the first lap and saw a few more ahead as I started each lap.  It pretty much went this way until the end.  I passed Thomas “Hell on Wheels” Hellriegel with about 1.5k to go.  I crossed the line in 7th…breaking my 12th place streak in good fashion.

This blog will pretty much wrap up my 2011 European adventure.  It is back to the U.S. in just over a week.  My season is kind of just getting started, and the remainder is still a bit to be determined.  Next up though is the Rev3 Iron Distance race in Cedar Point, Ohio.  After that, I am not entirely sure, but I would like to also race the Rev3 Half-Rev in Anderson, S.C. and then hit a WTC 70.3 event as well as a possible later season WTC Ironman event.  I’d like to be on the start line in Kona in 2012, so I will likely be playing the points game a little bit with the other WTC Pros.

On Kona, KPR, and Whatnot

Monday, August 8th, 2011

I am racing this weekend at 70.3 European Champs.  Mainly so that I do a German triathlon and because I have finally strung together what I feel is a good block of training.  So, it will be my first race of the year pretty much.  And, I hear that German triathlons are pretty cool.  But, there will also be a few pros on the line who are trying to shore up their Ironman World Rankings and get one of the final 5 or 10 slots to Kona for the women and men, respectively.  Since the first cut of 25 women and 40 men has been made, there have been assorted posts and blogs giving commentary about the KPR and less so the 70.3PR system that determines which professionals race at the Ironman World Championships in Kona or the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas.  So, while in the past I might have posted this over at my BrandonMarsh.com blog, I thought I would post here as the audience is likely bigger…by 2 or 3 readers at least.

Last year we posted on the TBB forum that the KPR was a step in the right direction.  I still believe that.  And, when viewed overall, I think that it is close to being good.  So, my thoughts on the whole issue or at least part of the issue are below…again ‘my’ thoughts.

- I do not think that points should be carried over year to year like they are in the ITU rankings.  Kona effectively does this, or doing a race between September 1 and Kona effectively does this for those athletes not racing Kona.  Yeah, they get fewer points than a near bottom rung finish in Kona, but they should since the focus around that time of the year is the Championships.

- I think that pros should have to ‘validate’ their spots by doing an Ironman sometime after September 1 the year of Kona.  Yes, I think all pros, even the IM World Champ, should have to do this.  I say that because there is a bigger jump from 70.3 to IM than there is from 5150 to 70.3.  3 carefully selected and well placed 70.3 events ‘may’ get an athlete enough points to qualify for Kona.  The argument can be made the the best 70.3 athletes are the best IM athletes.  At times yes, at other times no.

- One change that I feel should be made is that an IM win should qualify you for Kona.  I think that some consideration should be given to rolling that spot down to 2nd, but no further.  If the winner or 2nd does not take it, then that spot is gone from that race.  Pretty plain and simple.  With the number of pros now, ‘most’ IM races have at least 1 or 2 athletes who are capable of top-10 or top-20 finishes in Kona.  The athletes that win an IM of any level are generally that type of athlete…generally.

- Another change that I feel should be made is for the athletes who want to race up and down.  By that I mean that if an athlete who is historically a 70.3 athlete wants to go to Kona, picks a few high point 70.3 races and limps across the line in an IM…they can qualify.  If an IM athlete wants to go to 70.3 worlds, it doesn’t matter how many IMs they do…they can’t count any of them for 70.3 qualifying.  Yes, IMs are higher points so cut the points earned in an IM by 1/2 or 1/3 to put it on par with a 70.3 of the same caliber.  Only count 2 of them.  So, to race down as it is now, an IM athlete will have to essentially fit 5 70.3 events into their schedule.  If both are considered ‘long course’ then there should be points counted up or down if that makes sense.

- Lastly, and these are just about everyone being ‘more pro’ and will likely be sorted by the time I am being a world class coach and racing the Leadville 100 MTB race…pay some money out for the points rankings.  Or at least provide some incentives for those in the top-10 or top-20 or for every pro who qualifies for Kona.  It can start as small as ‘here are some hotel rooms in Kona, let us know if you want one’.  Or, it can be as big as the ITU system where there is a season ending bonus pool based on rankings.  To go even further, a World Championship should pay at least to 20th spot.  All IM races should pay to 10th or possibly pay a certain %age of the field after the top-3 get paid.  That makes the payments for the top athletes on par between the men and women and rewards more athletes in a field that is deeper.  Make it more pro.

- Finally, to some degree I feel that we, as pros, have a responsibility to make the races more pro.  We need to take a page from the ITU and have mandatory meetings on a set day and time before all WTC branded events.  At ITU events, if you miss the meeting, there’s a penalty…I don’t know what it is, but there is one and it makes the athletes more accountable.  If you are on the start list, then you have to be at that meeting unless you have told the race directors prior to assigning numbers that you will NOT be racing.  A lot of athletes will disagree with this one, but it makes it more professional and it will make races more marketable for sponsors, for race directors, etc. if they know who will be there and who won’t.  I requested a start for IM Switzerland this year when Amy decided to go.  I didn’t even officially register, but I showed up on the start list even after I said I wouldn’t be there.  In this case, it’s the RDs responsibility as well.  I just think that there should be some accountability on the athletes’ part.

Again…’my’ thoughts and mine alone pretty much.