Editorial Race Report: A Humbling Day in Frankenmuth – Powerman Michigan

The following series of editorial race reports follow our editor, Jesse Bauer, on his adventures across North America this past August/September. During this time, he raced the Canadian Championships/Worlds test event at Challenge Penticton, the Canadian Draft Legal Championships in Edmonton, the draft legal qualifier at the Esprit Triathlon in Montreal, and Powerman Michigan, a long course race in Frankenmuth, Michigan. This series is intended to share his race experiences as well as general race information about some key and/or new races on the Canadian duathlon calendar for 2017. The reports will be in reverse chronological order, but also increasing in relevance to 2017 race calendars for Canadian duathletes.

Little Bavaria
Have you ever wanted to race in Little Bavaria?

The first race in the series is Powerman Michigan, an attempt to bring the wildly popular Powerman events of Europe to North America. The events on tap featured a 6mi/40mi/6mi Powerman distance race and a 3mi/20mi/3mi sprint distance event. The races were contested on a multi-loop course through the beautiful Bavarian resort town of Frankenmuth, with Powerman athletes completing four 1.5 mile run laps, half on grass and half on road, four exposed and flat 10 mile bike laps through the countryside, then another four 1.5 mile run laps identical to the first. Sprint distance athletes did two of each lap. Despite the flat nature of the course, the wind and the terrain made for a difficult day on the course.

Transition Zone
Pro-looking transition zone for athletes, headlined by Ironman legend Chris Legh’s slick Trek

I came in knowing that I would be underprepared for this race, with my training more pointed towards draft legal sprint and standard distance racing. My solo time trial work has been intentionally minimized to focus on the more technical and strategic nature of draft legal. Couple that with adding an additional 25k of time-trialling followed by a full 10km of running would be a challenge.

Milling Around
Tons of athletes milling around waiting for the race start on a chilly morning

After getting the go-ahead to join the elite wave based on my results of the season (racing such names as Chris Legh, Daniel Bretscher and Colin Riley, not to mention Peter Ellis and Mark Weghurst chasing from the AG wave behind), I decided to make the trip east and give it a go. My dad surprised me by catching a last minute flight to cheer me on, and we drove down with my friend from my Windsor days Brad Reiter, who would race (and win) the sprint distance race. And at least the weather on race day promised to be nice.

Elite Start
Off the line with some elite company. My shoe of choice: Skechers GORun4 for the extra cushion!
First Turn
Turning off of the “cross country style” section of the run course, ~800m of groomed grass running before hitting the tarmac

Standing on the line was a little daunting, but the nice thing about long course racing that I learned immediately is that there really isn’t a made dash off the line like shorter races. I had planned to run the first run relatively conservatively (~3:35/km), and a blistering start was not part of the plan. We ran together for the first 800m on grass before everyone split up, with Legh and Riley going up the road, and Bretscher staying back with me. I wouldn’t see Chris and Colin the rest of the day except on overlapping sections of the course. I stuck to my plan, and was very happy with my metronomic ability to run between 3:32 and 3:38 on each kilometre, even with over 3km of the run twisting and turning upon itself on grass with several off-camber sections. It was off to the bike course…

FIRST RUN (6MI/9.65KM) – 34:40 (3:35/KM)

Tarmac Lap Finish
The final 2/3 of each run lap was on tarmac (except for a short stretch on wood through the historic Frankenmuth Covered Bridge)

I was a little dismayed to discover my powermeter had fallen asleep, since I was planning to pace my ride to around 210W and see what that netted me. I was also interested in having the data to analyze after the race for later long course attempts. Recognizing a lost cause, I went forward on heart rate and perceived effort. Sometime in there Daniel Bretscher blew past me like I was a doddering pedestrian, never to be seen again.

Leaving T1
The abundance of signage, not to mention great volunteers, lent a very “pro” feel to the event

Starting off there was little wind, but with each successive lap the wind got steadily stronger. Each lap started with a long straight eastbound run on chippy pavement to a loop that ended up back at the main road for a longer westbound run back to the turnaround loop. The wind was coming from the southeast, so most of the exposed lap was into a cross-headwind, with an opportunity to get some time back on the long tailwind run-in back to the race site.

Bike Turnaround
The turn around for each of the four bike laps was a wide loop in the parking lot that hosted transition, with an aid station for full Powerman athletes

I focused my efforts on keeping a steady pace on the first two thirds of each lap and getting my heart rate down and some fluids and nutrition in on the tailwind section, while getting some time back. I ended up averaging a pretty consistent ~8:00 for each 5k segment, getting closer to 7:00 on the segments that included the tailwind. I was quite happy with this effort, though the distance and my lack of long time trial training took its toll after about the 40km mark (the longest I had previously gone for a TT). After that point, the wind took its toll and my legs began to tire rapidly.

BIKE (40.8MI/65.6KM) – 1:43:58 (37.8KPH)

Dismount
Another shot of the wide turnaround loop. The whole ~65km course featured exactly ZERO 180 degree turnarounds. It was glorious.

Despite my struggles on the latter half of the bike, I started the second run in good spirits. I had always known the second run was going to hurt…I just didn’t know how much. Luckily, the multi-loop format of the run course was my saving grace here, as it made it easy to break the run into smaller chunks. I broke it up into laps, and further broke it down to grass and road sections.

Chris Legh was already starting his 2nd lap when I left transition, but my major concern was my own race. I felt truly awful at the start of the run, and my 4:00+/km pace proved that. As each section went on, I was able to work into the run, eventually getting my pace closer to my target of 3:45/km. I ended up being very happy with my effort on the second run, as I really had no expectations going in.

SECOND RUN (6MI/9.65KM) – 37:52 (3:55/KM)

Death
Contemplating just rolling over and passing out. Luckily there was tons of Gatorade Endurance formula (if you’re into that sort of stuff). Also pickles.

FINAL RESULT – 6TH OVERALL/4TH ELITE (2:57:25)

THE VERDICT
I really enjoyed this race. The course didn’t present too many obvious difficulties, but the cross country style first 800m of each run lap as well as the inherent challenges of questionable pavement and wind on any Midwest bike course presented their own challenges. It was fast but certainly not a walk in the park.

Looking out
Another shot looking out from transition. The organizers went for a big race feel despite the small crowd, and I would say they nailed it.

Considering the race was relatively small (~150 people across the two distances), I was pleasantly surprised at the big race feeling and organization of the event. The multiple lap format, constant upbeat music and excellent announcing made it a fantastic spectator course, and Frankenmuth is a fun (if not a tad quirky) resort destination to take your family. The finisher’s medal was a carving of the state of Michigan on a Powerman branded lanyard, and we walked away with armfuls of swag at package pick-up. Even the race numbers were pretty cool, with a custom background of the historic Covered Bridge that athletes run through every lap.

Elites
Probably the most star-struck I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve read about these dudes on Slowtwitch! From left: Colin Riley, Daniel Bretscher, Chris Legh and some weirdo from Edmonton

I would recommend Powerman Michigan to any athlete based in Eastern Canada looking for a getaway race to cap off the season, or who wants to mix it up with some incredibly friendly pros. And of course to elites who meet the tough standards (16:30 5km/34:00 10km/26mph bike split in a multisport event) looking for a paycheque at the end off the season without that wet stuff.

Awards
Pro tip: they don’t let you keep the big cheques. Bummer. Although that would have been hard to explain at the border…
Eerie 1
Eerie nightime transition shots, part 1
Eerie 2
Eerie nightime transition shots, part 2
Eerie 3
Eerie nightime transition shots, part 3

Until next time…keep Du’ing it!

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Some Frequently Asked Questions About The 2017 World Multisport Championship Festival In Penticton

We’ve been on a little “offseason” hiatus for the last little while, but don’t fret! We’ve just been planning out the next year on Canadian Duathlon Central.

Ever since the rash of September qualifying races for the World Multisport Festival in Penticton next August, we’ve been getting all sorts of different questions about Worlds. At the time these questions were asked a lot was still up in the air, so we’ve waited until more information came to light before putting anything in writing. At this point, enough has come out for a post, not to mention the deadline for automatic qualifier registration is this Saturday October 15, so…enjoy!

1. I heard the World Sprint Duathlon Championships is now draft legal. What does this mean? Have there been any draft legal races in Canada this year? How did they go?

Draft legal racing essentially means that the rules governing keeping a minimum distance between you and the bikes in front of and behind you, not to mention when passing, are eliminated. Think about the Olympic triathlon rather than Kona. There have been several age group draft legal races in Canada this year, including four duathlons that were also qualifiers for Penticton. You can read our reports for the well-attended ones here (Edmonton) and here (Montreal). We will also have a special feature on race dynamics coming out shortly (we didn’t forget!), highlighting some fascinating age group races from Edmonton and Montreal.

Draft Legal Dynamics
Draft legal action in Montreal (http://www.zoomphoto.ca/viewphoto/19913-110-27917646/1/)

Draft legal racing was generally well received with many athletes crossing the finish line with wide, enthusiastic eyes, though there have been several concerns raised by athletes. These included the challenge of learning a new format, lack of races, added steps of finding a cycling club to train, learn and race with, the inherent safety concerns associated with pack-riding, and the cost of buying a road bike if an athlete does not already own one.

2. Wait…what do you mean buying a new bike? I understand the other challenges, but why do I need a new bike? Can’t I ride my triathlon bike for draft legal races?

No, you cannot…unless your existing bike is a standard road bike already. This infographic from Triathlon Canada sums up the equipment rules for draft legal racing pretty succinctly. If you have a standard road bike with clip-on aerobars, then it is an easy fix (just take off those aerobars and that disc wheel). If you only own a full time trial bike (as is the case with many athletes), you will unfortunately have to find some way of getting a standard road bike before you try draft legal racing. That said, a road bike is a great training resource for triathletes if it fits your budget! As a side note, at this time disc brakes are not allowed in ITU competition or for World Championship qualification purposes.

Road Bike
Road bikes are fun!

3. Okay, I’m in…I’ll be looking for road bike deals so I can try this out. Is it possible to race both events at the Worlds in Penticton?

Yes. There was a new draft of the tentative event schedule released recently that makes this possible. The sprint distance race is on Saturday, August 19, while the standard distance race is 48 hours later on Monday, August 21. This satisfies the ITU’s requirement for 36 hours between races where one is of standard distance or longer. So duathletes can have the best of both worlds and race both a draft legal sprint distance and a standard distance event! The easiest path to doing so is having automatically qualified for both events during 2016, though there are other ways.

4. How necessary is it to have two bikes for the two races? Can I make do with only having a road bike?

Of course! If all you have is a road bike, you are going to be just fine. Just slap some clip-on aerobars on that thing and maybe think about a Wheelbuilder Aerojacket disc cover to go with your race wheels (if you have some). As mentioned earlier, if your only bike is a TT bike then you will need a road bike to race the sprint. That leaves the case where you have both bikes; what should you do?

Sweet venue for a TT bike!
Sweet venue for a TT bike (Photo credit: ITU Multisport World Championships)!

Our advice: if you have podium aspirations then bring your TT bike. The bike course is likely to be incredibly flat and fast, with the potential for wind as well. Also, you’re going to have cars passing you on one side the whole way, creating a slipstream effect. The lower and more aerodynamic you can get, the better. A road bike with clip-ons and every other aerodynamic aid you can think of is still going to be just a compromise.

5. Say I did not qualify for both events in Penticton, as I had only planned on competing in one event…what other options do I have for racing both events?

Unfortunately, qualifiers did not exist in all provinces or regions for each of the events. Fear not! Triathlon Canada has two more phases of registration for athletes to take advantage of, so if you raced at a Triathlon Canada Qualifying Series duathlon but didn’t automatically qualify, then you are eligible during stage two for any spots that are available, based on the priority of the event you raced. This is open from October 15 to 31. However, a quick perusal of the results from the sprint qualifiers reveals that (a) the number of athletes who did not auto qualify is in the single digits and (b) there are quite a few of the 25 qualifying spots allotted to Canada as a host nation that are going to go unclaimed in stage 2.

The next step is open registration. This basically means that after stage 2 is closed, a whole bunch of spots are going to be up for grabs on a first come, first serve basis, especially for the sprint duathlon (fewer spots will likely survive rolldown in the standard). This is mostly good news for those people who wanted to race both events yet only qualified for one. Pretty much the only pitfalls that we can see are that (a) if you did not race a Triathlon Canada Qualifying Series event but you had one in your province, an additional $150 charge is incurred and (b) you must have raced in at least one event of equal or greater distance in the previous calendar year, meaning that you sprint athletes who did not do a standard distance in 2016 are out of luck, unfortunately.

Challenge Penticton Hill
All registered? Good…now start hill training!

So how do you register for both events? Simple…just hop on the link that was sent in your auto qualifier email (or that will be posted on Triathlon Canada’s website for Stage 2 qualifiers), and complete the first registration as presented. When you get to the confirmation screen, put your code into the promo code space, and a discount will be applied to your cart save for $150. For the second registration, there is a question that asks if you have already registered for an event in Penticton. Choose “YES” and an additional discount will apply, leaving you with around $30 to pay for the second registration. Of note, this is for automatic qualifiers only.

We hope this helps! Don’t forget, the automatic qualifier deadline is tomorrow! So if you automatically qualified, make sure you get on to register before your spot rolls down! If you have any other questions, please feel free to connect with us on Facebook (Canadian Duathlon Enthusiasts), Twitter (@du_enthusiasts) or email (duathloncentral@gmail.com). Until next time…keep Du’ing it!