Is it just me, or is this new course a huge step backwards? I'm guessing that the National Park Service is to blame (they usually are), but maybe it is just a money thing. Two loops are obviously cheaper than one for the race promoter. And ten (yes, ten) 180 degree turns on the course will sure be interesting.
Their FAQs indicate there will be designated "no passing zones" on the bike course, that should be real interesting.
"Designed by triathletes..." Which ones? I guess it's starting to look more like an ITU course. I'm not a fan of the new course.
I'm not too good with math but that's 7-8 "u-turns", killing my already pedestrian avg. mph. I agree, very much like ITU.
Madone or P3, which bike to use...
This really pisses me off. The old one-loop bike course was crowded enough, but now a 2 loop course with no passing zones and 10 U-turns? Its awfully convenient that they announce this change AFTER they take entry fees from 95% of the race's max capacity. I've already paid for this race, but no chance I show up to do it.
This "race" has become more about the experience and not about racing. Like Wes said, it was already super crowded, but now with two loops it will be ridiculous. They are not interested in people who are looking to actually race. Instead the focus is now on getting people to try the sport.
Also agree that it is pretty bad that they didn't announce the change until most people had already paid for the race. I know our club is supposed to be ambassadors for this race, but ...
I too was a little disappointed at first, but hey that's life. I'm just happy that we have the opportunity to do a race right in our own backyard and that Events DC is willing to put it on. This race inherently has logistical challenges given the fact that there are more agencies involved than one can count on both hands (and probably both feet too).
I'm willing to bet that while Events DC had input to the course, I can't imagine they had the final say in the route. I'm also willing to bet that the timing was out of their hands.
In any event, this is by no means official, but I believe the exact route will look similar to the link below based on the cue sheet list on the site. The confusing part is the 395 HOV lane, I can't imagine they'll have us using the same one in both directions, but who knows, it's not clear in the map on their site. Corrections welcomed.
I'm one of the triathletes that provided input for the bike course. There were others involved from DC Tri, as well as from another local team that is heavily involved in racing and volunteering for Nation's. (Early Disclaimer: I have not yet read the press release)
First, many of you don't know me (Wes does, and Brady sometimes thinks I'm Wes ;-), but I've been heavily involved in DC Tri for a long time. My first year of racing triathlon coincided with the first Nation's Tri (or du, as it turned out) and I"ve been involved as a racer, volunteer and race ambassador each subsequent year. I was also president of the club in 2008 when DC Tri became the official volunteer organization.
With that introduction in mind, you are free to take my response here at whatever face value you feel is appropriate. But for those that do know me, I think you know that, while I do have a bias for Nation's Tri and its race experience, first and foremost I am extremely dedicated to the club and the friendships that I've been lucky to form through DC Tri.
To get back to the race course. I've driven the entire course, I've ridden the rideable parts (i.e., not I-395) and I've studied the course map (admittedly, the map image online is difficult to decipher). Many of the turns on the map look absolutely horrible on paper. But in reality, much of the course is very navigable.
As an athlete, I had come to hate the portion of the bike course that travels on Canal Rd. It is simply too tight for that many athletes going in both directions and it was dangerous. The new course is two loops. BUT, the roads are much more wide open. The portions of the course that are going to be no passing are located on some of the trickier areas of the course where, frankly, most athletes wouldn't need to be told not to pass. But for each of the technical turns, you are immediately returned to a wide open road where you can make up some speed that was lost on the turn.
My personal impression after driving the course for the first time was that there where many more long stretches of road where I could ride in the aero bars and build up speed than it appeared on the printed map.
I would have to sit down while looking at Google Earth to explain any individual route issues so I can't address everything here. But I've tried to address the main questions. If I missed anything, you can feel free to message me with further questions. Or post here and I'll try to answer.
Keep in mind that there will never be as many racers at Nation's as there were at its peak year. It's my opinion that race crowding isn't going to be an issue on this course. I've also been told that the swim start will be delayed slightly so as to limit the flow of athletes on to the bike course. There has been a lot of thought put into this and many people have been consulted to deliver the best and most sustainable course that Washington, DC, can offer. Riding on I-395 is going to be pretty awesome on the way back to town AND we get to do it twice. If you are already signed up for the race, I would encourage you to do it. If you don't actually like it, then at least you didn't totally waste your entry fee. Then you can commiserate, positively or negatively, with a full opinion of the course for next year.
I'm with Travis on this one. I'll say, I have no dog in this fight - no affiliation to Events DC, did not give input for the course, and have no bias towards this race one way or another. Over my 8 years of racing, I've come to realize these things happen... swims get cancelled, bike courses altered, bad weather rolls in, or maybe even a fire up stream the night before causes you to enter T1 covered in soot and unrecognizable. You name it, it's probably happened.
Sure, the logistics for Nation's aren't optimal, but the convenience sure is. I know I've said many times that I wasn't going to race Nation's again because of the inherent logistical issues; however, in the end I realize that the higher cost to do a race (that is closed to traffic), just 3 miles from my house, is worth it to me.
What's the worst that can happen, you show up and don't have fun? I doubt it.
As for the course, I know that most (if not all) U-turns are either "left-left" turns or U-turns from a two-lane onto a two-lane, not a one-lane to one-lane. The old-old course made that "sharp" right turn coming out of Whitehurst onto Rock Creek, which is on the new course, and I remember it being very manageable. As Travis mentioned, studying the course a little closer, there are more continuous stretches than it appears on the map, especially when you picture the area as if you were driving the course.
My one gripe is that they (Events DC) needs to get the detailed maymyrun.com "Bike Map Pedometer" updated on nationstri.com.
@Travis - I took matters into my owns hands... are my unofficial cue mapping skills as accurate as I think they are?!?!?
Travis, thanks for sharing your insights.
It may help to post on the Nation's Tri Facebook page too. There are a few angry people on that page. (They are sort of going after one of the Brand Ambassadors who spoke up about the course change.) I think the information here would be useful, even if it doesn't completely change their minds. At least it might calm them down a little.
Good idea... Thanks!