You’ve recovered from your final “A-goal” triathlon or duathlon. You’re looking forward to a lengthy off-season where you can let go of “training” mode. You may even use your gym membership.
If you love to race, it won’t take long before the urge to compete returns. Instead of waiting until spring to shake off the cobwebs, incorporate a fall duathlon or two.
Because it is the off-season, take the pressure off yourself. Don’t focus on a PR or a certain place in your age group. Frame any off-season races as hard training days or as time to sharpen skills. Focus on improving your transition time. Improve your cornering and descending skills. Practice good running form. When the New Year hits (and it will be here before you know it!) you’ll be prepared for an even better 2019.
Fall is an ideal time for duathlon. It’s too cold to swim anyway, so why not run-bike-run? You may find, like I do, that you love the relative simplicity and challenge that duathlon brings.
Fall duathlons from coast to coast
You can find duathlons almost anywhere you can find triathlons. Some cold-weather states (Minnesota comes to mind) have even more robust duathlon scenes because, well, swimming is cold most of the year.
How do you find a fall duathlon? Search USA Triathlon‘s website for a list of sanctioned races. TriFind also has a good race calendar that lets you search by sport, state and date.
Here’s a sampling of good stuff I found:
• On the west coast, you’ve got the Catalina Island Duathlon and the Marin County Sprint or Olympic Du on November 3. Note: Prepare to shell out a whopping $155 for the Marin County sprint du or $250 for the Olympic distance. Ridiculous. On second thought, skip this.
For SF Bay Area folks, my first and only choice for an early 2019 race is Du 3 Bears on Jan. 26. Choose from a short or long course or a relay. It’s managed by Wolf Pack Events, veteran duathlete Wolf Hillesheim’s company, which hosts duathlons and runs throughout the year.
• Florida, which has lots of warm water, likes duathlon too. There’s the Bill Bone sprint du on Nov. 4, in Lake Worth, and the Half-Iron Duathlon in Miami—aka the USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championship—Nov. 11. Clermont has a sprint duathlon series that runs through November.
• Louisiana: Check out the River Roux Duathlon in New Roads, Nov. 10. Or, the Dust-buster Duathlon on Jan. 6 in Shreveport.
• If you live near Navasota, Texas, check out the Dirt in Your Shoe Du on Dec. 8. It’s short, but it has a great name!
This is just a quick scan of races across the U.S. What are your favorite fall races? Tell us in the comments below!
One thing I noticed when perusing the results (particularly in my age group): the times appear to be faster this year than last. Is the new bike course faster than the old? If anyone has insights, please share!
Here’s the profile of the 2018 bike loop, which athletes complete three times:
A view from the top
In his inaugural Zofingen race, dominant U.S. athlete Albert Harrison finished sixth in the elite men’s race with a blazing-fast 6:25:52.
He published one of the few race reports I could find, and it’s a thorough one. He starts with the training, shares his goals and continues with his thoughts on the race and USA Triathlon’s lack of support for its duathletes.
He was on TV too. A lot.
Most inspirational athlete
One of the most inspiring tidbits I found came from the Twittersphere. Blind athlete Fernando Raino didn’t just finish Powerman Zofingen. He finished strong.
WBU 1st Vicepresident #FernandoRiaño wins World Championship after a hard race held in Zofingen, Switzerland- 2018 Zofingen ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships- he’s won 3Triathlon World Cups, 1Triathlon World Championship& national titles @attitudefr_gopic.twitter.com/YCZx9a4jQ9
Photo by Ozzymate [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
Michael McCormack, a former professional Ironman champion who won Ironman Canada in 1991 and 1995 and broke the course record, once told me Powerman Zofingen was the hardest race he had ever done.
Considering McCormack trained with and raced against some of the best in the world in both triathlon and duathlon, that’s a statement not taken lightly. His words echo the sentiments of most athletes that complete this grueling race. It doesn’t seem so bad on paper, but executing is a different story.
What is Powerman Zofingen?
Thanks for asking! Launched in 1989, Powerman Zofingen is the longest championship duathlon. It’s also the most prestigious, as many call it the “Kona of Duathlon.” It’s one of the few duathlons that attract spectators. I’d say it’s one of the most competitive, and it is, but everyone from front to back suffers in equal measures. It’s the ITU Long Distance World Duathlon Championships as well as the International Powerman Association duathlon final.
The event consists of a 10K run-150K bike-30K run. Much of the runs traverse up and down through forests, while the bike goes up and up and up (and down) through hills, valleys and villages.
Here’s what I know about the course, until they changed it for 2018:
The first 10K starts with a steep 1.5K climb (about 8% grade) and continues up and down gravel trails. You do one 5K loop twice.
The bike consisted (until this year) of three 50K loops. Each loop has/had three solid climbs ranging from 5 to 3K-ish, which grades up to 10 to 15% on the Bodenburg ascent, as well as sweeping descents and a flat stretch. After 93 miles of riding, you get to “du” a 30K run.
For the final run, once out of transition you head(ed) up a long climb and then run up or down to complete three or four loops, depending on the year (the course has been tinkered with through the years).
Powerman Zofingen: a few historical tidbits
• In 1989, its inaugural year, the event was still called a biathlon. Yet, it was a three-legged sport: a 1.5K run, 150K bike, 30K run. In 1990, banana-hammock-wearing American Kenny Sousa won the men’s race.
Kenny Souza in 1993. Hope he wore more clothes in Switzerland. It can get chilly in September!
• In 1993, the prize money in Zofingen totaled $200,000—more than Ironman Hawaii.
• In 2000, attendance started to fall in Zofingen and at other duathlons worldwide. Why? Triathlon became an Olympic sport, which means the major players started swimming, biking and running for what became the more lucrative sport. [Biting my tongue here]
• On the 25thanniversary, in 2014, combined Powerman Zofingen events attracted 1,480 participants. (That includes PowerKids, charity and long and short distances)
• In 2018, nearly 700 athletes will line up for this incredible race (that’s not including PowerKids and charity, only long and short). About 383 athletes will do the full long-course event, according to today’s start list.
The 2018 bike course is still 150K, but traverses through different villages and takes athletes over one of the hills in a different direction. It still has a comparable overall elevation profile—from a little over 1800 meters of climbing to a little under1800, depending on who you talk to.
The new course also features about 300 meters of cobblestone. The race directors promote this as a perk (oh yay! Like riding Paris Roubaix!). I see it as a potential tire-puncture risk. The descents are either technical or sweeping, depending on who you ask.
4 years ago I first toed the line at the long-distance duathlon world championships in Zofingen. I didn’t know what to expect from the race, but I did know that I love cycling and running, which seemed good enough reason to have a go! 😆
Since the… https://t.co/t7WG90M8ISpic.twitter.com/EbYXwFnXKj
Best of luck to all the Powerman and ITU competitors. By the time this posts, I hope you are all sleeping soundly and wake up early in the morning feeling fantastic and ready for the path ahead. I’m cheering for you all!
CODA: Powerman Zofingen will be missing a bright light this year: professional triathlete/duathlete Alistair Eeckman. He died when a bus collided with him while he was on a training ride in Austria. He had just finished sixth in Powerman Austria and was gearing up for Zofingen. He is deeply missed.
Racing a duathlon in another country is a great way to explore someplace new—as a tourist as well as a runner and cyclist. If you like to keep your vacations active, plan one around an international duathlon. You’ll challenge yourself on a new course, as well as enjoy some “active recovery” experiencing local culture and cuisine.
Whether you’re looking for a long-course duathlon with a competitive field, a short, flat course to test your speed, or something hilly and scenic, somewhere in the world you’ll find a duathlon for you.
For a break from the norm, plan your next vacation around one of these 10 duathlons and duathlon series.
Considered the world’s largest duathlon, the London Duathlonattracts more than 2,000 athletes each year. Choose from its standard distance (10K-44K-5K), go long with the ultra du (20K-77K-10K) or du something shorter with the Half Duathlon or Relay.
Expect some climbing on both the run and bike courses, all held within Richmond Park in southwest London. September 16, 2018. @londonduathlon
As if climbing Box Hill five times isn’t tough enough, you get to “du” it in November.
The longest-running, most arduous UK duathlon, Winter Ballbusterlives up to its name with a hilly 8-mile, 24-mile, 8-mile course.
Set in the Box Hill National Trust Site, in Surry, about 19 miles outside of London, the event challenges newcomers and professionals alike. “To finish the race entitles you to hold your head high,” writes Matt Baird for 220Triathlon. November 3, 2018.
Storm the Castle Duathlon
Set in Ludlow, Shropshire (that’s in England) Storm the Castlefinishes inside Ludlow Castle. Pretty cool, eh?
The 10K-33K-5K course offers plenty of climbing along the way. Why visit Ludlow? This tour guidesays it’s a beautiful foodie town with a rich history. April 2019.
Some of the most competitive and best-known duathlons fall under the Powermanumbrella. Du one for fun or to compete against the best in the world.
Powerman Int’l has its own rankings system, which gives you another way to qualify for the ITU Long-Distance World Duathlon Championship in Zofingen, Switzerland. Powerman also hosts the European Championships.
You can find Powermans in Germany, Denmark, Austria, Brazil, Panama and the Philippines, among other countries, including this one. Distances vary from 10K-60K-10K to 5K-30K-5K. Year-round.
Krusnoman Long Distance Duathlon
Got your sights set on a trip to Prague? Plan it around the Krusnoman Duathlon, a long, mountainous 5K-80K-15K about 80 kilometers outside of the Czech Republic’s capital city. You can experience leg- and lung-searing joy of 2,200 meters of climbing and then hobble around Prague’s Old Town Square. May 12, 2018. @Krusnoman
Duathlons aren’t limited to North America and Europe. Uganda, Africa, hosts the Kyaninga Duathlon—part of a weeklong adventure that includes a boat safari, trekking with chimpanzees and a race. Along the 4.5K-16.5K-4.5K course, you’ll ride through Ugandan villages and run in the foothills of the UNESCO Rwenzori Mountains. Before and after, you’ll stay in Kyaninga Lodge in Fort Portal. I just found out about this race and I am intrigued! May 19, 2018.
I know I already talked about the Powerman series, but Zofingenis iconic enough to get a spot all its own. Considered the duathlon equivalent of the Ironman World Championships, Powerman Zofingen is considered the most prestigious and toughest duathlon in the world. It’s also the ITU Long Course World Championship.
The course starts with a hilly 10K forested run, followed by a 150K bike and a 30K run. Both hilly. If you search around, you can find numerous race reports that describe just how hilly and how long this race is. My eyes are burning from a day at the computer, so I’ll let you tackle the almighty Google. September 1-2, 2018.@PM_Zofingen
If you don’t feel like riding around in circles, visit NI Duathlonfor a list of duathlons throughout the region. @niduathlon
Here’s another race series around a track. The VeloPark Duathlon series takes place on a closed-road circuit around the 2012 Olympic Velodrome. These low cost events take place all year, so you can easily fit one into your London vacation. @Velopark_Dua
I’m getting a little heavy on the UK events, but since this one says it was voted “Best UK Duathlon” in 2016, I’ll give it a mention.Held along Stokes Bay, in Gosport, and the Lee-on-the-Solent sea front, Bayside Duathlonincludes both a sprint (5K-20K-5K) and a super-sprint (2.5K-10K-2.5K), both flat.
Gosport is a port town with 24 miles of waterfront, beaches and watersports. It also looks like you’re pretty close to South Downs Natural Park. November 4.@BaysideDuathlon
Know of any other great international races? Let us know in the comments below!
Originally posted on alistaireeckmantriathlete:
The Long-Distance Duathlon World Championships was unique course and the toughest race I’ve ever done. It was not just the distance that made this race tough, but also the terrain. The race started with a 10km (6.2mi) run, then 150km (92mi) bike, and finished with a 30km (18.6mi) run. The race…
I’m back home from the Duathlon National Championships and have a full day of work behind me. My head is no longer pounding, but I’m still a little stiff-legged after Saturday’s race and Sunday’s 8-plus hour drive from Bend, Oregon to Oakland, California.
All in all, USAT put on a fantastic event for us duathletes. During the rules briefing the day before the race, many athletes (especially the sprint competitors) were concerned about potentially crowded conditions at the beginning of the run and on the bike. The first run started in a narrow chute (kinda like cattle), and took two immediate hard rights onto a narrow bike path.The bike course went out and back (times two for the standard distance) on a road that was mostly moderately uphill on the way out, downhill on the way back. We only had one side of the road to do all of this, which made those screaming descents seem pretty sketchy.
I can only speak for the standard distance, but neither of these course curiosities presented a serious issue in my race (Women 17-49). It was crowded through the bike path, but nothing worse than any other large race. It forced me to not go out too fast, which is easy to do in these events.
The bike course was fine. The fields broke up pretty fast thanks to the long climb, and there was enough room for people to fly down the hill at 40+ mph while others stayed to the right and either hammered the downhill or clung for dear life, depending on his or her comfort level.
Both the bike and run course had hills to contend with, but nothing compared to what I’m used to in the East Bay hills! The 40K bike course had a little under 1600 feet of climbing; the 10K run, about 430 feet; the 5K run, about 210. We felt every inch of hill on that second run, that’s for sure! At the crest of one of the climbs, on the second run, I saw the photographer snapping away. “How mean!” I said, smiling. A little joke took my mind off the pain. He laughed…after he took God knows about many shots of me and the other athletes when they look like death warmed over.
The transitions were short (no running 400 meters with the bike, no mud, no grass) and straightforward. The volunteer support was excellent. The course marshall at the bike turnaround had a booming voice that she used very well to tell us to either turn around or head left to transition. I heard that a few others missed the turnaround altogether and kept right on going! But they didn’t get far.
Crowd support was pretty good too. I saw a couple friends cheering us on, which was much appreciated, and Elvis gave words of encouragement at multiple spots on the course.
The sea of bikes.
My race was not my best, but I met my very revised goal: finish without embarrassing myself. I also managed a miracle. Because of an injury this spring that derailed my running, I told myself if I finished in the top ten of my age group it would be a miracle. I finished 8th. Viola! Friends of mine had great days, podium days, while others had worse experiences than mine — a dropped chain, cramps, nausea.
The awards ceremony. Sorry I was too lazy (or tired) to take podium pictures.
Bend made a great host for the Du Nats this year. And lucky us, we get to go back in 2017!
PS, if you decide to compete in next year’s nationals, consider staying at Shilo Inn. The rooms are large (I had a kitchen!), reasonably priced (before all the prices go up in advance of the race), and the staff is super nice. They serve a pretty good free breakfast too…I discovered…the morning I drove home.
Did you race in Bend this past weekend? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!