I've not entered Nations or the DC Tri before because of concerns about swimming in the Potomac - especially with the current swim course. I would say that this wasn't a close call for the race organizers. Good for them for announcing this as soon as they did, so people could adjust expectations.
Yes, really bummed about the swim - after all that training.
Understand and agree for all the safety concerns - but I am still bummed.
Oh well, now on to Giant Acorn for my first real Oly/Int'l Tri.
I am also kind of sad that the swim got cancel. But why they did it so early 3 days in advance. May be wait till Saturday and make the call as the rain is suppose to stop today. In 2009 rain a lot the week before the ITU race and the swim happened. The other thing is why not make it a DU ?? they need more road permits to run let say 1 mile out and back just wondering
I'll still show up, but some people are posting on the Facebook page that they will now skip the race. I think it'll still be a large field, but it could be smaller than last year.
I wouldn't complain too much if everyone in my AG decided to drop out. No, not really. I'd still like to see where I measure up against the competition, and whether I've improved over last year.
I saw this posted by someone on the Nation's FB page which is why they prob went on an canceled the swim:
According to WTOP: "Heavy rains have resulted in the D.C. sewer system overflowing into local waterways including the Potomac. D.C. Water engineers estimate about 250 million gallons of sewer overflow including raw sewage have been released into local waterways this week. "
As for not making it an actual duathalon this is the explanation they gave:
All, please understand that the city is having a number of events surrounding 9/11. Getting permits from the federal government along with the local government is a challenge very few city races have and the last minute nature of a request to add a run earlier than expected is near impossible. Given the location of DC it is an accomplishment to even have a Tri here and we are grateful to be among the few events allowed to happen on this memorable weekend! Great questions though and glad we can at least make the non-runners happy :). Please know we would love to make it a true run-bike-run Du since all of us staff are athletes and enjoy a challenge as much as you. Finally, biking and running is still an accomplishment much of this nation hopefully will tri one day (no irony intended)!
I figured it had to do with the sewage. That happens during every heavy rainstorm. The old storm sewer system can't handle that much rain. After a certain amount of rain, the water in the storm sewers mixes with the untreated sewage. Then the mixture winds up in the river.
The Post had an illustration a few years ago. The storm sewer channels are very shallow. They are located near the sewer pipes. It doesn't take much for the rainwater to flow out of those narrow channels and mix with the contents of the sewer system.
Triathletes have strong immune systems, don't they? Well, maybe not that strong.
well its strange since most of the races run by the race org that does the nations tri, usually has a no swim contingency plan of replacing it with a run, they did this in the early days for the nations tri/ and the nyc tri on occassions, funny they didnt' have it in place this year, oh well.
yeap all this rain too much in the days before a race will overflow stuff into the river, i think it normally happens at all the major cities, nyc, dc and la when this happens in the past, it happens, blame mother nature not the race organization.
but i do have to admit, with the new style TT start with 15 people starting at a time to run to the bikes they should call it a "LE MANS START" instead now. and that is cool!!!
Any other weekend and they probably would have been able to do a true DU, but not on 9/11 weekend in DC. The park rangers, DC police, and a few federal agencies probably have their hands full with all of the ceremonies that are going on. I'm pretty they weren't in the mood to allow alterations to the permit.
I think that the Nations folks probably have a du plan in place, but the Feds probably would have none of that. I know from my experience with PeasantMan and dealing with VA park rangers and the Sandy Point rangers that the language of the permit are pretty specific. Any modifications to that gets a scorn eye. I am pretty sure that the RD didn't want to push the issue too hard. It's just not worth it. The one thing that you absolutely do not want to do is sour the relationship that you have with the permit agencies or police. It would make planning for subsequent years much more difficult.
Some things to put in perspective:
- There is a combined storm/sanitary sewer overflow pipe a few hundred meters from the swim course turnaround. Any significant rainfall results in these types of pipes overflowing into the Potomac (and directly into the path of swimmers) for three days afterward (acc. to DC Water).
- The law excepting DC Tri and Nation's from the swimming ban requires water testing at least 48 hours in advance of the race -- there's no way testing on Friday would be in compliance.
- At Little Falls (by Chain Bridge Road), water flow rates are at 55,000 cubic feet per second. If you don't know what that means, the mean is 2,200. If you don't know what that means, watch how fast the debris is moving downstream, and imagine a panicked athlete during their first open-water swim.
- Water levels aren't expected to drop significantly until Sunday afternoon at the earliest.
- The city's going to be a mess on Sunday anyway, so the prospect of any diverted emergency resources for errant swimmers was probably something that the city wants to avoid at all costs.
- With this many athletes, converting to a Run-bike-run would be madness, given course constraints.
- Be prepared for the possibility of a run course change if Hains Point is still flooded on Sunday.
Cutting the swim is Pretty disappointing after training, renting a wetsuit, and paying for all that pool time. Any chance they are refunding because it isn't what we all paid for? It isn't like this is the first time sewage overflowed into the river. Happens every time it rains moderately in DC. Event planners should have a contingency plan.
Does anyone know of any triathlons in the area this weekend? Im probably going to pull out of the nations. I took a look at the transition area and it is going to be a muddy mess on Sunday. Huge bummer.
absolutely no chance of a refund, the waiver you sign when you sign up for the races state that the rd can change anything with the course for safety and even cancel the race and no refunds if due to mother nature, etc.
you have about 100% chance that the fiedl will be a mess by sunday but hey that makes it a muddy buddy race.
again the "le mans start" is awesome have fun with it!!!
What about Hains Point? If water levels remain high through Sunday, it's possible that the road could be partially flooded. If that's the case, then we might get to swim after all -- while wearing running shoes.
This is what the race director posted on slowtwitch
This is Chuck Brodsky the race organizer. That was a good question about Haines Point becoming flooded. We're on it and have designed a backup run route that keeps us out of Hanies Point but does allow us to run down 17th St in front of the WWII Memorial which has NEVER before been allowed to happen. The backup run is likely going to be a two loop run to make up the whole 10k. If we get to that point of having to change the run we are prepared and it will appear seamless to the athlete. Updated course maps will be made and distributed. Updated turn by turn instruction will be updated and posted on the Athlete Services Page and in direct email communications. Rest assured we are watching every facet of the event and constantly trying to stay ahead of the "what if" cuve. And always in the back of our minds is how can provide the bests athlete experience possible no matter what the conditions we face.
Right now the water is as bad as I've seen it in the six years I made it my business to watch that river. The discharge rate is normally 2,250 cubic meters per minute. Right now it is 127,000 cubic meters per second. That's an exponential increase in water volume which creates floods, currents, back currents and other conditions that are unsafe. Keep the feedback, questions, comments and concerns coming. Its the only way we know whats on you mind and provides and outstanding outlet to communicate. I can also always be reached at chuck@wseminc,com or 202 257-3473
As far as the swim question is concerned, below is what the race director had to say on slowtwitch. I'm not sure what other contingency plans folks expect from the RD. It's not like we have another body of water next to the Potomac that can be used. Even if we did, the debris and runoff would still exist ... not like the rain from Hurricane Lee only cast its ugly head over the Potomac and no other body of waters in the vacinity.
June through November is hurricane season in the DC area. It's been like that for a couple of hundreds of thousands of years. Let's face it, our sport takes place, for the most part, outdoors. Mother nature happens when it's outdoors. That's part of the fun and the challenge.
It's not like we had to spend a couple thousand of dollars to go to Germany and do an Ironman only to see constant rain showers for 13 straight hours with 20+ mph wind and 50 degrees air temp. Now, that ... would be crazy.
Good question you asked about the swim. What most athletes never see, much like Disney or Cirque doesn't want participants to see, is the time and effort it takes to produce and create the experience so that on event day it looks magical in how it appeared. Truth be told that the week or more before the event teams of professionals are lining up equipment, staff and planning for the intricate installation of the infrastructure that makes the race look as it just happens. Behind the scenes and starting 4 or 5 days before the event our staff, contractors and team members need to be on the river, laying lanelines, setting no wake buoys, building the swim dock and bringing the sections together.
So for us a race organizers not only do we have to worry about atlete safety but we have a whole cadre of staff, contractors, police, kayaks, volunteers and canoeists who's safety is equally paramount. These folks need access to the river to plan, install and build all the infrastructure that makes the swim happen. This year it is simply not possible to place those folks and those assets in the water due to the current conditions in the river. It is one of the hardest calls for a race director to make but through the lens of athlete safety its crystal clear. On an average day the water flows through the swim route at 2,000 cubic meters of water per second. Today the flow is 127,000 cubic meters of water per second. The sheer volume of water creates currrents, floods and hazards which must be respected.
Tuan is right - we race outside. Everyone knows that when they sign up for a race, something might happen on the race course that causes the RD to change something. As much as triathlon is about swimming, biking and running, it's about figuring out how to overcome obstacles and tackle challenges that are put before you. It's quite possible that the bike course or run course will be changed sometime between now and Sunday at 7am. So what? So you'll bike and run on whatever course that you're given, and it will be fine.
I've worked with this race staff for several years now and I am again this year. I can tell you that they are doing absolutely everything they possibly can to make this event one that all the athletes will enjoy but more importantly one that is safe. It's going to be wet, transition is going to be incredibly muddy, the course is going to be different and the start is going to be something you aren't used to. But you are a triathlete, and everyone who signed up for this race will be able to handle all of the challenges that are put in front of them. Because that's what we do.
While I'm at it - please don't forget to thank the volunteers this weekend. They'll be standing around in the rain a lot longer than you guys are and there are no medals at the end. Just terrible orange t-shirts.
Represent DC Tri well this weekend everyone! Keep a good sense of humor and a smile on your face, and you might just have fun out there in the rain and mud!
I know there can be changes. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to scout out the course by seeking out last-minute info. That's not a complaint. That's a normal part of race preparation, whether or not there is bad weather.
I don't care if they change the course. I just want to know about any changes before hand. With last-minute preparations, maybe a turn doesn't get marked properly. Or a volunteer doesn't remember the new route. Or something else. I probably won't be thinking about the course too much while I'm running, but I might keep a mental note about a particular detour.
It's not just the swim cancellation. All of this rain in general is a downer. I'll be glad to see it go away. Once I get on the bike, I'll find my motivation again. (I think.)
Tuan - Does this mean you won't be handing out the complimentary DC Tri pool noodles at the expo this year. I would be really disappointed. - Maureen
(Really - does the pool noodle thing ever get old.)
Hugh Harris has confiscated all of my swim noodles ... something about not while on his watch :)