With the 2013 Long Course Duathlon Nationals (AKA Mt. Rainier Duathlon) coming up next weekend, I spent some time riding and running the courses yesterday to give you a sneak preview and some advice on how to approach the course.
I’ll start by saying that there is a lot about this course that I like and I think that everyone should find something that they like about it. The course offers a great deal of variety, but is not highly technical. The hill climbing on the bike will favor strong riders, but there is enough other terrain to help even that out a bit as well. In short, I think this is a fair race course and should be good for well rounded athletes.
Run Course 1: At just over five miles (5.12), this course isn’t quite a 10K but is long enough that it should slow down the sprinters a bit. Looking at this on the map, I thought that it would be totally flat, but the race organizers managed to find the one hill in this part of town to incorporate into the course. The hill starts after a hard left turn right at the 3 mile mark and climbs quickly up a rolling set of inclines. The hill is short but steep and I think this is going to separate the girls from the women so to speak. If anyone has gone out too fast, they will pay for it here. There is a nice recovery coming back down the other side of the hill and then the course flattens back out in the last mile.
My advice as always is to pace yourself wisely in the first run. Your running pace should be a pace (effort level) that you can keep up for the entire duathlon — not just for that first run. Most people go out way to fast in the first run. Remember that you have a lot of riding to do after you transition, so take it easy. Work your way up the hill and then use the down hill to recover and get yourself set for the transition as you come back to the start/finish area.
Bike Course: The meat of this race is going to be on the bike. At 28.88 miles this feels quite short for a “long course” race, however, the hilly terrain makes it challenging and it will feel longer. I think the way to mentally approach this course is to divide the laps into three segments: 1) the first portion of the race until you hit the bottom of the climb (0-6 miles), 2) the climb (miles 6-8), and 3) the recovery and descent (miles 8-14). You’ll do two laps of the course.
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