Du It For You

Duathlon training and racing: stories, advice, and views from the top

Category: USA Triathlon

Guest Post: Duathlete Proposes Solution to Long Course Diet

Duathlete and coach Luis Lora, who lives and trains in Winter Park, Florida, composed a reply to MultiRace race director Andre Quirino’s response to Lora’s original letter, published in USAT Magazine and on Du It For You, about MultiRace’s decision to shorten the USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championship, held in Miami this year.

You can read the original letter about the switch here, and the follow up here. USAT reps reached out to Quirino, who sent them the same response he sent to Lora (thanks copy-and-paste!) All this took place 3-4 weeks ago. To date, the race course remains its shortened self, and the duathlon community has heard nothing official from either USAT or MultiRace.

The frustration stems from a) a race director’s decision to shorten a ITU world-qualifying long-course event, seemingly without exhausting all other options and b) do it without first conducting a proper marketing survey geared toward duathlon participants and c) do it without effectively communicating the change to athletes.

In the letter below, which Lora sent to Quirino on August 1, Lora proposes a solution. He also provides further comments. Duathletes: What would you like to see happen? Post your comments here. The USAT Duathlon Committee and USAT will see them. I’ll make sure of it! — Du It For You.

<<Good Afternoon Andre,

I want to thank you first and foremost for taking the time out to read and provide a response to my letter. I also appreciate your diligence in answering the various points in my letter.

In regards to the Zoo access, as you mentioned, my comparison was just that. A simple comparison. As you explained, the logistics between the two scenarios are very different and even in the aforementioned 5K, there is ¾ of a mile run through the parking lot to ensure the full 5K distance since there are some areas that the event cannot enter. So I completely understand not having full access to the Zoo and the well-being of the animals being their top priority.

The comparison was provided to illustrate how from the outside, without detailed explanation, it can be interpreted as a lack of desire to push through obstacles. This could have been remedied with clear and detailed communication as you eluded to toward the end of your response, and I appreciate you acknowledging that.

Despite the obstacle with the zoo, it seems there is plenty of road available to provide a longer distance on the first run (even if it ended up being two loops).

The road inside the park, but not inside the zoo, that ends on one side at SW 124th Ave and Talbot Rd on the other end could provide a simple out and back addition to create a longer run. It also has a path that’s not in the zoo that runs parallel to it for a major part of the road.

Now, I am not going to pretend I am a race director and know the ins and outs of picking, establishing and designing a run course–that is your expertise. Nor do I intend to tell you how to do your job, so I hope that my comments do not come across that way. Again, from the outside, it just doesn’t seem that all options were exhausted.

I agree that 100% consensus is impossible. There are too many variables and too many different opinions. The question that still stands is do you really feel or think you got the general consensus of the participating duathletes?

I would argue that you have not. I am familiar with the survey you referenced. USAT and the race directors they partner with are very consistent in obtaining feedback after their major events. It’s an important part of continuing to provide a product that athletes want to attend, which is great. That survey was an overall survey for the race.

In my letter I eluded to a survey, which again has minimal to almost zero cost, specifically about the proposed change to the duathlon. You mentioned that it took monthsof considering the information to get to the ultimate decision, which means there was ample time to inquire further with the athletes that spent the time and money to participate in the actual event.

In regards to athlete feedback and considering the race conditions to ensure the event is neither too hard nor too easy, it still appears to me to be a miss.

After writing and sharing my letter, I have yet to encounter an athlete that truly thinks shortening the first run to 2 miles was the best thing for the sport of duathlon. The letter I wrote has been shared and viewed by over 200 people and none have disagreed with it, several have shared it and commented that they agree that a National Championship event shouldn’t have been altered that way.

I understand you might have received some feedback on the long first run, but no one, not just MultiRace, investigated further with the collective of duathlon participants. You would have found different results had it been investigated with a specific follow-up survey.

Additionally, if the course conditions in Miami are just too hard to have such a long event, why are we not seeing a reduction in length for the long-course triathlon?

MultiRace put on for several years one of my favorite duathlons in Cocoa Beach, so I know that your organization puts on quality events and can be inclusive of all the different races.

My frustration isn’t directed at you as a person and race director or even solely at MultiRace for that matter. A National Championship race is a joint venture between several parties. The true frustration comes in because none of the multiple parties involved either individually, or collectively, thought to investigate further, communicate broadly and effectively, or treat this National Championship event with the same high reverence and respect that us duathletes treat itwith as we train and prepare for it.

Again Andre, I want to thank you for taking out the time to respond, as I know you are very busy running an organization. Thank you for engaging me in this conversation.>>

Guest Post: MiamiMan Race Director Responds re: Long Course Duathlon

Duathlete Luis Lora’s guest post about MultiRace’s decision to shorten the USAT Duathlon Long Course National Championship course caused a stir! The USAT Duathlon Committee reported to me that it has followed the issue closely ever since Lora originally submitted his letter to USAT Magazine. In recent weeks, the Committee and USAT have taken action.

According to Committee Co-Chair Dave Lasorsa, USAT National Events Coordinator Cody Crowther contacted Miami Man race director Andre Quirino of MultiRace. After speaking with Luis and getting more information, Cody asked Andre for reasoning behind the decision.

Below is Andre’s response to his company’s decision to shorten the long course nationals from a 10K first run to a 3.2K first run. I’m also including a copy of the letter MultiRace sent to its athletes after the race.

Let’s continue a healthy discussion! Post your thoughts in the comments below. I’d like to believe stronger communication between athletes, USAT and its race director partners leads to higher-quality events we’re all excited to participate in. Duathlon is a wonderfully challenging sport with an intimate community that I for one would like to see grow. Let’s work together to make that happen. — Du It For You

Hi Cody,

I am in receipt of your recent (USAT Magazine) letter to the editor and I would like to personally address the various points you mentioned.

First, I would like to convey that I always encourage feedback from all our participants. Whether it is good, bad, or otherwise, direct feedback helps MultiRace (and USAT) improve the events and grow the sport and its various athletic disciplines.  While I completely understand your feelings of frustration in this matter based on the points you brought up, I hope that a deeper understating of the overall picture will abate your perception.

The ”generic response” you allude to is in fact quite accurate even if it is light in details. The truth of the matter is that the combined issues of both logistics and athlete feedback necessitated the change in distance.

While your example of a small/local 5K gaining early access to Sea World seems like a logical comparison, it is in fact quite a different situation at Zoo Miami. It is true that early access to Zoo Miami can be gained by small/local 5K’s and conventional wisdom would ask why can’t MultiRace/USAT with its National Championship event gain access?

Those events that gain early access to Zoo Miami are entering via the public accessible paths that are closed during the early hours, however, the Miami Man Duathlon course would require entering via the restricted (non-public) areas that run adjacent or near the animal paddock sleeping areas at a time where any disturbance is to be kept at a minimum.  Also, zoo staff & keepers are actively working in this area in the morning preparing/feeding the animals and with the many other tasks required before the zoo opens to visitors.  This is a Zoo Miami decision but it is quite understandable when looked at from their perspective of controlling and minimizing stress to the animals.

Further, it is always difficult in deciding when the physical challenges of a particular race are too high or too low for the intended participant target group.  You mentioned the heat of our Florida weather and the ‘sauna’ it created last year with the strong morning rain.  This is just one of the many aspects that have to be considered, however, it is simply impossible to have 100% participant consensus on such matters.

I will concur that we could have done a better job with the public announcement of the course change.  In hind-sight, a direct email to those already registered would seem to have been appropriate.  This has been noted and I thankyou for mentioning it… this is an example of participant feedback helping us improve the quality of our events going forward.

In regard to your point of a ‘questionnaire’, a post-race survey was sent out to all race-day participants.  Below is a copy of said survey with the original email date of November 26th.  It is through the survey responses (in addition to direct participant feedback) that we formulate our action points for the following year’s event.  We took several months in considering the racer feedback, the logistical issues with Zoo Miami, the current course and its alternatives to arrive at (in conjunction with USAT) at the best possible solution.  Obviously, as I stated earlier, it is impossible the achieve 100% consensus, but we endeavor as much as is possible to do so.

On a personal note, I would also like to emphatically state that ALL our participants, whether triathletes, duathetes, aquabikers, or aquathletes, have an equal level of attention and my upmost & sincerest effort is made to ensure that no one is left to feel marginalized.  I hope I was able to shed a bit more light on this situation and as always, please feel free to contact me with your comments, questions, or concerns.

Regards,

COPY OF SURVEY:

Dear Athlete,

 

On behalf of everyone at MultiRace, I would like to thank you for participating in the 2018 Mack Cycle Miami Man Half Iron & International Triathlon – USA Triathlon Multisport National Championships. I know the windy and rainy conditions were challenging for most, but we were fortunate we were able to see the sun shining by the end of the day. We sincerely hope you enjoyed your race.

 

In an attempt to continue to produce the very best events, we ask for your feedback, both positive and negative. MultiRace strives to improve your race experience at each and every event and have found that some of the best ideas/suggestions come from you, the participants. Please send me all your feedback and/or suggestions and we will try to incorporate these ideas into next year’s race!

 

We are extremely excited to host the 2019 USA Triathlon Multisport National Championships Festival at Miami Man on November 9-10th, which will include the Long Course Triathlon, the Long Course Duathlon, Long Course Aquabike, International Triathlon, International Aquabike and International Aquathlon. Be a part of history and add this “must do” event to your 2019 race schedule.

 

 

For more information: Click here Registration is now open!

 

Finally, please take a few minutes to fill out the USA Triathlon survey by clicking HERE

 

Thanks again, and we look forward to seeing you next year at Miami Man. Best wishes for a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!

 

 

Sincerely,

 

Andre Quirino

USA Triathlon Race Director

www.multirace.com

 

 

 

Guest Post: USAT Duathlon Nationals: How Long Is Too Long?

USAT and MultiRace, the host race director for the USAT Long Course Duathlon Nationals, in Miami, unexpectedly made a long-course race shorter. Here, duathlete and coach Luis Lora shares his view on the change. 

Although Luis explains it more eloquently, my thought is this: athletes, why in the world are you complaining that a long-course national championship is too friggin’ long? Suck it up Buttercup! This race qualifies you for the toughest duathlon in the world. If you’re complaining now, you’ll be crying in Zofingen!  — Du It For You

Duathlon

Photo courtesy of Luis Lora

A Step Back for Duathlon
(my letter to the USAT Magazine Editor)

Luis Lora

As you may or may not have heard, the 2019 USAT Duathlon Long Course National Championship event has had a major change to its race distance. The 2018 edition of the event featured a 10K run, 56mi bike and a 13mi run.

Through a June 26th Instagram post by MultiRace it became public knowledge that the race would now have a 3.2K first run instead of 10K. This decision has taken the development and growth of Duathlon several steps backwards, and I’ll explain why.

First, we must attempt to understand the reason how or why this happened. Several frustrated athletes reached out USAT events in an attempt to gain an understanding of what happened, and this generic response is what they all received:

“In conjunction with feedback from the race director in Miami, we both decided it was best to shorten the first run course due to some logistical issues with the park and campground that it runs through. Additionally, many athletes provided feedback last year that they thought the first run was too long for this event”

The first part of that refers to logistical issues. What those are, we do not know from this initial email. Only after further inquiring beyond the initial response, if you have the time and patience to do so, is it relayed that there is no access to the zoo at race start.

For those that completed the event in 2018, that would explain the different 1st and 2nd run courses. A note on the 2018 first run: it was not the best. There were at least four 180-degree turns combined with paths that were narrow, which forced the top 20 athletes to race single file for the majority of that first run.

The 2018 first run certainly left much to desire and needed improvement, but not in regards to distance. The logistics of access to the Miami Zoo certainly presents an obstacle, but at the same time I’m wondering how my local running store can get access to SeaWorld’s staff, parking lot and park before hours for us to run a 5K Fun Run. Again, that’s a small local running shop, with much less influence than USAT or MultiRace, gaining access to SeaWorld, a much larger corporation than the Miami Zoo, for a fun run 5K, a much less prestigious occasion than a national championship event.

The second part of the generic response eludes to a first run too long for a long-course duathlon race. To clarify, this National Championship race qualifies an athlete for a Team USA slot to race in the 10K, 150K, 30K World Championship event. How does a 10k, 90K, 21K long-course race still seem too long? More importantly, would we be having this conversation if a few athletes complained that the 1.2mi swim or the 56mi bike or any other part of a long-course triathlon championship race was too long? Highly doubtful.

What are you telling us, USAT?

These initial points aside, the way this was handled, communicated and the message it sends is what truly makes it detrimental to the development of Duathlon.

We are told, only upon having to inquire, that participant feedback conveyed the first run was too long.

There were 111 athletes that made it to the start line for last year’s event. How difficult would it have been to reach out via email to those 111 participants to have them fill out a short survey with 3-4 specific questions around how they would feel about a shortened run at the 2019 event?

It seems like something that could have been easily done. Furthermore, was the USAT Duathlon Committee consulted regarding this change for their input? If so, where was the outreach from them, even simply through the group FB page to gain a wider range of feedback around a shortened run?

We were never made aware that this was an issue that needed some attention. The way this portrays to the duathlete is that when any slight hiccup in event planning presents itself, the easiest thing to do is to simply make the duathlon event less of a “hassle or burden” on race directors.

Fast-forward to the decision being made. How do you decide to relay this message to athletes that are quite possible halfway through the year training specifically for this race and the specific race distance? Surely an email would be sent from the USAT governing body or the USAT Events team. Non-existent. Well then surely MultiRace would make a big announcement through email and let us know as previous participants in both an effort to get us to re-register in 2019 and to inform us. NADA. A short Instagram post is all we got.

What does this mean for duathlon?

So what does this mean to Duathlon? I’m not 100% sure, but it says a lot of things. It says that after making the right decision and taking a National Championship event that was much shorter and making it a true long-course worthy distance, we’ve taken 3 steps back.

It says, “A Duathlon National Championship isn’t the same as a Triathlon National championship, what were you thinking.” It says, “Duathlete, you are not strong enough to race at this distance.” It says, “Duathlete, you can’t compete at the world level anyway, so why try to prepare you for success there.” The lack of desire and effort to push through boundaries and obstacles so we can get into the zoo or find a suitable way to run a 10K first leg says “Duathlete, your $350 registration dollars isn’t worth the same $350 registration dollars the triathlete pays.”

Listen, that race last year was brutal. For the first two hours I was right where I wanted to be and ready to earn a top spot in the last two and a half hours of the race. Unfortunately, a mechanical/equipment issue with my bike turned those aspirations of a top finish to pure survival mode.

Add in the heat that is present in Miami year-round and the morning rain that created almost a sauna effect in the mid to late morning made it even harder. I crossed that finish line in the top 20, nowhere near as high as I wanted, but felt good about what I gave out there on that course.

Since that day, I’ve been thinking about what redemption would look like at that distance, on that course. USA Triathlon & Multirace, you have taken that opportunity away from me and many, many other athletes like me…

Throwback Saturday: ITU Duathlon World Championships, Pontevedra, 2014

In honor of the ITU Multisport World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain, this weekend, I thought I’d post my race report from the ITU Duathlon World Championships in 2014 – also in Pontevedra. I’ll always remember the smell of cigarette smoke and grilled meat as we ran through the cobbled streets of that lovely city. I spent an extra four days in Galicia and loved every minute. I kept a travel journal, and this post is one entry of several. Note: when I talk about my travel/camping kitchen, I’m referring to the single burner I brought so I could make coffee and hot cereal in my hotel room. I’m strictly gluten-free (gluten sensitivity, Celiac gene and all, and didn’t want to risk GI Hell around a big race.) Best of luck to everyone competing today and this weekend–run-bike-run swift!

Pontevedra 2014 ITU Duathlon World Championship

Galicia, Day Four: Race Day.

I woke up with a jolt at 7:55 a.m. I’m so used to racing at 8, that waking up at 8 feels like I’m oversleeping and late for something. I quickly fired up my electric burner to boil water for coffee and start eating.

I ate what felt like my usual size dinner last night, but was hungry when I went to bed and hungry in the morning. Partly due to nerves and partly because I had four hours until race time, I ate a little more than usual, but not too much.

Thanks to my hotel camping configuration, I learned that canned organic sweet potatoes, pureed, no extra sugar, makes a good pre-race meal option. I ate part of the can last night with my dinner and took the rest with me to race headquarters so that I could have a snack in a couple of hours.

Surprisingly, I easily found parking on the opposite side of the river, about a ten-minute walk from the Sport Performance Center. The infield of a track served as the transition area and the run course took us along one of the straights for each loop.

It was about 9:30 by the time I got to the race site and the sprint race (5k-20k-2.5k) was well underway. I found the bag-drop building (amazingly efficient) and the entrance to the transition area, which I was not allowed to enter until 11 a.m.

I had some time to kill. Most of those 90 minutes were spent chatting with a few familiar faces: woman from the Santa Barbara area, last name Ray, who was on my flight into Vigo; a man from Oregon that stood in front of me in line at the bike check-in; other random USA people.

They opened up transition a few minutes before 11 a.m. and a throng of athletes made their way to set up their spots. The race organizers gave us buckets that looked like small laundry baskets for our stuff. All items had to stay in the bucket.

Turns out my NorCal ally, Cassie, was my transition neighbor, which was a nice surprise. Both jittery, we warmed up together along part of the run course, following the rear ends of a pack of men from France.

ITU Duathlon World Championship 2014

From L to R: Cassie, Martha (from Cleveland) and me

At about noon, all the standard-distance athletes assembled for the cattle call. There were six waves: three male, three female, from youngest to oldest. We were in the last wave, women 40-plus, which started (we thought) at 12:24, but actually started at 12:30. Those 30 minutes in the holding area had to be the most nerve-wracking. With each sound of the horn the nervous stomach lurched one more time.

We’re Off!

With lots of “good luck,” “have fun,” “kick butt,” and other well wishes, we were off! Around the curve of the track, running clockwise, out the main gate, a hard right, over the timing matt, another hard right, a sharp U-Turn and almost immediately up the first and only real substantial hill.

As expected, our group took off like a rocket. The women I planned to keep in contact with drifted ahead. For past two to three weeks, my running has been minimal thanks to a fussy posterior tibialis tendon. My usual 10k pace felt much harder than it should after a restful taper week.

The first 2.5k loop felt long, and we had to do this four times! Wandering through narrow city streets—cobblestone, asphalt and cement—smells of seafood and cigarette smoke wafting through the air, past an ancient church and any number of bars and restaurants, I eventually found a good rhythm. It seemed as though women were passing me left and right. We also had men from other waves passing us left and right. The 10k alone felt like enough. But there was oh so much more to go!

Transition went as smoothly as it could for someone who is not very fluid in such things. A long run in grass to the bike mount area just outside of the track and away we go!

Immediately I heard an incessant click-click-click with every wheel revolution. Oh crap, what now? My bike computer sensor was hitting a spoke. An attempt to lean over while riding to adjust proved difficult and dangerous. After a few miles, it annoyed me enough so that I leaned over and gave it a good swat and it slid to some spot I couldn’t see. I wouldn’t know how fast I was going, but I wouldn’t hear the click-click. [Editor’s note: this was a couple years before I invested in PowerTap pedals!]

The bike course was glorious. For those familiar with the East Bay, imagine 40k of Bear Creek Road: enough uphill on the way out to allow me to pass a lot of women, and long descents on the way back that were steep enough to go fast, but not so fast that my bike blew around in the wind.

The second loop was more of the same. On the 1.5-mile climb near the beginning of the loop, a group of women were bunched up. I was working my way up to pass them when a race official rode by and decided to hover around for a while. I knew he was watching for drafting. I was passing as fast as I could on a hill – geez! The presence of the race official apparently lit a fire in my rear because I found another gear and left the bunched up group behind.

A hard left turn took us onto a road parallel to the river that was lined with spectators. Cool. The dismount happened and off I went to hang up the bike and run some more.

The second run is always the killer and can make or break a race. Sometimes it feels bearable, sometimes it feels like your legs will fall off. Today it seemed bearable, but by no means easy.

I reminded myself that this is only a 5k. Only two loops this time. Piece of cake. Just stay strong and don’t be a wimp. At the first water stop (they handed out little plastic bottles with the lids still on), I dumped more water on my head and down my back and got to it. My pace was decent, I think, and I passed a fair amount of people, both women and men from earlier waves.

The crowd support was phenomenal. For both runs, the streets of Pontevedra were lined with people, including friends of athletes, sprint racers and a lot of locals.

Along the course, I heard “Go Johnson!,” “Go USA!” and “Go Chica!” Near the end of the last run I also heard “Animal!” from a man with a Spanish accent. For some reason, this odd cheer gave me a boost! I focused more closely on catching the person ahead of me, and then the next one, and the next one. I couldn’t wait to get on the track for the final 200 meters. I know what I’m supposed to do on the track: run HARD!

The end result: 2:34:41 good for 12thin my age group (out of 29) and second American in my age group.

I’m happy with my result. Could I have run a faster 10k if I hadn’t had to back off for a minor injury? Maybe. But would my bike split have been as fast if I hadn’t gotten in some really intense workouts in those same two weeks? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, I placed much higher than last year’s Worlds in Ottawa (19 out of 26), my first world championship. And I love saying that I’m something in the world.

Exclusive: Q&A with USA Triathlon Duathlon Committee

Duathlon is the second-most populous sport governed by USA Triathlon (USAT). Yet, we represent less than 10% of its membership. Of USAT’s nearly 500,000 members, somewhere between 21,000 and 36,00 compete in duathlon.

In 2000, the USAT Board of Directors realized our small-but-passionate group of run-bike-run athletes warranted a Duathlon committee. For nearly 20 years, a revolving group of committed volunteers has worked hard on our behalf to support and grow the sport.

Duathlon Committee Cochair Dave Lasorsa agreed to answer a few questions about the Duathlon Committee, how it functions and its plans for 2019 and beyond. Lasorsa addresses many of the concerns I’ve heard in Duathlon Town Halls, on social media and in “real life” conversations. It’s worth the read.

I welcome your comments below. If you have questions, please also respond in the comments section. I’ll “du” my best to get them answered.

DuItForYou: The USAT site mentions the duathlon committee refined its mission in 2008. What is that mission?
DL: Starting in 2008, the Duathlon Committee began the creation of a Duathlon Master Plan. The mission of the Duathlon Committee is best described by the opening paragraph of the plan:

“The USA Triathlon Duathlon Committee was formed in an effort to grow the sport of Duathlon throughout the United States. Led by Committee Chair Tonya Armstrong (now co-chaired with Dave Lasorsa) and assisted by USAT staff liaison Tim Yount, the Committee works to implement best practices for the sport, innovates new and creative ideas to reach a wider audience, and is a voice for Duathletes nationwide.”

The plan is constantly being revised and in fact we are currently in the process of modifying the Mission Statement. One key point is that the Committee provides recommendations to USAT but is not involved in its decision-making.

How are committee chairs and committee members selected?
We currently have 14 members of the Committee, plus Tim Yount, acting as our liaison with USAT and Keri Serota, serving as the USAT National Board liaison. Members are chosen by invite from current members and from those who have approached USAT, asking to volunteer.

All members go through a series of interview questions, with USAT having the final decision on acceptance. Since the Committee serves as a voice for athletes nationwide, we strive to have representation from every USAT Region. Tonya Armstrong and Dave Lasorsa are the current Co-Chairs, although tasks are usually divided up into Sub Committees, each with their own lead.

How often does the committee meet?
We teleconference at least once per quarter with the entire Committee, although some of the more challenging tasks (such as choosing Duathletes of the Year) require weekly, sometimes daily conversations within the Subcommittees. Emailing and calls between members are done as the need arises, although rarely a week goes by without some topic being discussed.

Our most important event is the annual meeting held at Nationals, usually the day before racing. Here we set the priorities for the year and finalize topics for the Town Hall Meeting, held the last day of racing. Finally, quarterly reporting is done to keep all members and the USAT informed on the progress of our Action Items (see below).

What do you talk about?
The Committee responds to requests by USAT, as well as athletes, so the topics can vary. In the past we have worked on the Duathlon Series, distribution of duathlon grants, a sounding board for National Championship site selection and the recommendations for Duathletes of the Year (DOY). The DOY selection is particularly long, tedious work and the subcommittee responsible for this spent days (and many nights) combing through hundreds of well qualified athletes to narrow down the list to what we felt were the best of each category.

In the past we have set priorities for the Committee to strive for in the coming year. This year we formalized the process with the identification of Action Items—those areas where we felt we could best put our resources into helping grow the sport. These items currently are the backbone of our discussions.

What is the committee’s plan to grow the sport?
At the end of 2017 we identified the following goals or “Action Items” to pursue for 2018 and 2019:

  • Du50. Based on the success of the Tri60 program, we are engaged with USAT on expanding the number of venues to offer a Du50 program. We hope this will work well for those fitness centers and Ys that may not have access to a pool, but that can host an indoor Du50 (30-minute bike/20 minute run). We have a goal of 8-10 events in 2019 (although the organizational goal is five events).
  • Social Media. We are creating a Facebook page specifically for Duathlon, “All things Duathlon” and hope to launch it in the coming months. We intend this to be a place where athletes can discuss such topics as upcoming races, training tips, nutrition, and engage in constructive conversation on the status of the sport.
  • Duathlon E-Flyer. This will be an online advertisement for Race Directors. We hope it will be something that duathlon race directors can place on their sites and even consider placing in packets if budgets support it.
  • Kid’s Events at Nationals. In the past we have encouraged Race Directors to add more youth and novice races into their events, as well a relay division, to drive interest by creating a more family-friendly atmosphere and hopefully attract more athletes into the sport. We are setting an example by adding a youth fun run to Nationals at Greenville, to be held Friday April 11th.
  • Great Grandmaster Category for Duathlete of the Year. The number of older athletes in this sport is increasing. For 2018 and beyond, we are recognizing this this by adding a category in the DOY award for females 65+ and males 70+.

The Subcommittee Leads for each of these Action Items submit quarterly reporting on the status of progress. In 2019 we will evaluate these and decide what new Action Items to undertake.

Duathlon is the second-largest sport under USAT’s umbrella. How has participation changed over the past few years? I’m encouraged that the nationals in Greenville, SC this year had record participation. But I’ve also heard reports of a gradual, slow decline.
Duathlon saw tremendous growth in the late 80s and early 90s with the Coors Light Series and up to 2004 with the Dannon Duathlon Series. These races attracted thousands of athletes.

Yes, the sport did show decline in numbers after those years, with the rise of other endurance and multisport events. In 2008, USA Triathlon sanctioned 400 duathlons in 48 states. In the years that followed, USAT sanctioned 441 events in 2009 and 475 events in 2010. Since 2011 the number of events sanctioned by USAT held steady between 610 and 660 events, although 2017 did see an anomaly with only 541 events.

Since 2012, the number of athletes competing in duathlon has fluctuated between 21,000 and 36,000 per year. Nearly a decade ago, the 2009 and 2010 Nationals in Richmond had 1700 and 1805 athletes while last year’s Nationals had great attendance with 990 athletes. Finally, the Team USA at World Championships is typically one of the largest of all countries. We are encouraged by this participation and hope, with well-planned and ideally-located races, we can attract those kind of numbers in the future.

What are the Duathlon Committee’s short and long term goals?
The overall long-term goal remains to grow the sport. To meet this, the Master Plan identifies the following:

  • Support more duathlon events nationwide by encouraging Race Directors to piggyback with existing events.
  • Increase the number of athletes that participate in duathlon through strategic positioning of the sport at running and cycling events (expos, registration booth, packet pickup, etc.).
  • Create new education platforms to train existing race directors and triathletes on the sport of duathlon.
  • Promote the sport of duathlon to single sport specialists (Triathletes, Cyclists, Runners).
  • Create alliances and fruitful collaborations with community organizations (i.e. local sporting organizations, health centers, recreation facilities, YMCA, therapy groups, hospitals).
  • Look at different race formats to keep the sport fresh (i.e. Formula-1).
  • Create high-end deliverables for USAT development staff to secure corporate partnerships/sponsorships.
  • Look at Collegiate Duathlon options as extensions for growing the sport.
  • Create duathlon high school clubs similar to existing High School triathlon programs (of which 130 exist).
  • Encourage Team in Training (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) models that exist for running/cycling and related disciplines as arms of recruitment.

There’s a “chicken and the egg” issue in duathlon. People interested in getting into duathlon have a hard time doing so because there are very few races compared to triathlon. Race directors don’t put on duathlons—and don’t often include them as a choice in triathlon events—because of low participation. How do we stop spinning in circles here?
While triathlons are still the dominant multisport race, we are seeing more Race Directors hold “Festival Events” where a variety of multiport options are offered, such as Aquathons, Aquabikes, Novice, as well as sprint, standard and long distance triathlons and duathlons.

Individually, Committee members have reached out to Race Directors in their regions, encouraging them to add more duathlons to their triathlon events. I think you will see more of these combination events, since the cost is relatively small to add a duathlon to a triathlon.

One of the positions that we take with Race Directors is that the time to do a 1.5km swim is nearly equal to a 5km run. Essentially that means you can do both at nearly the same time if you want to reduce the footprint and save time…so that athletes then enter the same bike and run courses with more ease. Many have done this successfully. We just need to do a better job of explaining how those that do this, having done so with great success.

Finally, the addition of the draft-legal sprint category to Nationals and World’s opens up duathlons to a new type of racing, attracting a wider audience.

What is being done to encourage more elites to compete in duathlon?
The Duathlon Committee has not historically spent much time on elite athlete recruitment although doing so would present some challenges for us because the ROI is probably too small. We are charged with the task of growing the sport and leveraging the contacts and resources that we have.

With that said, if we were to help USAT in this capacity, our focus would be on the creation of a recruitment and talent identification plan similar to USAT’s current Collegiate Recruitment Program that Barb Lindquist has successfully created and developed. You should note that the Powerman Series will return to the U.S. in 2019, with several races on the calendar, and a healthy purse. Powerman Zofingen still remains the premier long-course World Championships. In 2018, the U.S.’s Albert Harrison placed 6thin the elites for this race.

Why doesn’t USAT promote duathlon in its marketing efforts? Can something be done to change that? For example, I see consistent social media posts mentioning triathlon and triathlon only. I see many articles on the USAT site related to triathlon training. Duathlon? Rarely. If they have an interest in growing duathlon, wouldn’t it make sense to give it some attention? Ditto to poor Aquabike and Aquathon.
There is a very delicate balance with USAT between what drives their bottom line and ways that duathlon can help create supplemental/incremental revenue for USAT. We won’t change the model, which supports what 95% of USAT constituents support, but we can certainly create some very positive and forward-thinking additions to what they are doing to drive more business.

As noted previously, the Committee recognizes this as a major issue and is trying to expand the sport’s exposure by creating a Duathlon-specific Facebook page. In the past we have created USAT flyers focusing on Nationals, and provided these in RD goodie bags. This year we have created a Duathlon “E-Flyer”, which can be used for any RD employing an online goodie bag, and/or use with advertisements.

We are also going to be having discussions this next year with USAT on how they can create additional soft goods with duathlon as the leading brand, produce additional giveaway items for members like stickers, and support duathlons with soft good purchase options through USAT partners (signage for example).

Part of the issue is finding people who can contribute good duathlon-specific articles to USAT Magazine, Triathlete [Ahem: Here’s an oldie but goodie from yours truly. — Ed.] and local race publications. Maybe this is a good “Action Item” the Committee can take up in 2019?

“I feel the strongest asset we have is the dedicated athletes who show up to their local races, support their Race Directors, and encourage them to continue.” — Dave Lasorsa

What can we, as duathletes, do to help keep the sport strong?
I feel the strongest asset we have is the dedicated athletes who show up to their local races, support their Race Directors, and encourage them to continue. Reach out to your local fitness center, parks and recreation department, hospital, YMCA, Chamber of Commerce, high school, etc. about hosting a duathlon. Many of these local organizations are looking for events to dovetail in with a community event (i.e.,  4th of July and Memorial Day celebrations), and want to attract people to stay for a weekend, adding to hotels and local retailers.

Additionally, if every duathlete promised to bring one new athlete to an event in 2019, that would double the duathlon population in one year. Imagine how fast that would grow the sport.

One area of additional focus might be to build on those duathlon markets that are currently drawing well for us. If we did that with a laser focus, these markets could essentially drive the sport for us, and would support our initiatives of strategically growing the sport both in athlete participation and event numbers.

Imagine what the Race Director response would be for those races where participation increases double digits? It would be hard to NOT move on the idea of a duathlon as part of the growth continuum. Key will be for this slow build to gain momentum, which we know is not always seen as a viable option for Race Directors who are trying to build their businesses.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Duathlon remains an active, popular sport. Whether it’s a triathlete seeking early and late-season racing, a novice trying to break into multisport, or a serious competitor competing at Nationals and Worlds, the sport is available anyplace with a road (no water needed) and in many areas of the country, year-round.

Duathlon is a great multisport for people who are not as competitive swimming or just don’t like to swim. The Duathlon Committee is an all-volunteer organization that feels it can contribute to keeping this sport strong. Most importantly we have the full support of the USAT National office staff. They allow us to integrate our desires with their day-to-day operations.

Thank you for the opportunity to answer some of these questions and I hope to see you at the next race!

Dave Lasorsa
Co-Chair, Duathlon Committee

…USAT Chief Operating Officer Tim Yount contributed to this report.

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