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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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)
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)
FINAL RESULT – 6TH OVERALL/4TH ELITE (2:57:25)
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.
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.
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.
Until next time…keep Du’ing it!