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Why aren't tri's more proportional?



 
 
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  #1  
Old July 3rd 03, 12:06 PM
topdog
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Default Why aren't tri's more proportional?

I was going to ask this before, and then I saw the following quote
today -

(snip)
I just wish there would be some longer
distance non-drafting events that had fairer swim lengths. (Change of
topicg!?) The ITU long distance races are closer to the Olympic
Distance proportions than IM distance proportions are but these races
are few. Would be good to see more middle distance races with
proportionately longer swims (like Muskoka) otherwise the strong
swimmers will continue to gravitate towards draft-legal events where
the swim (sometimes) can have more impact.
(snip)

I've long thought that tris heavily favor the run - proportionally,
the longest leg is almost always the run. Consider the last few tris
we had in our town -
1. 200 yd swim, 6 mi bike, 5k run
2. 1/2 mi swi, 18 mi bike, 6.8 mi run
I mean, these are hardly proportional! Yet, they seem to fit the
"average" race out there.
If you want another way to view it, consider that in olympic distance,
most of the swimmers finish within 10 min of the fastest one, yet the
time gap between the runners will be MUCH greater. And sorry, 18mi
bike doesn't even BEGIN to compare to a 6.8 mi run!
Personally, as a strong swimmer\cyclist and (at best) average runner,
this is frustrating as heck, and causes me to pick my races very
carefully.

Why is this? I guess there are several reasons -
1. Most triathletes have a running background. To them, it may seem
proportional, since they view a 10k the same way I view a 50mi ride -
no big deal.
2. Most tris seem to be wedded to the IM proportions, but don't factor
in the change in difficulty. Swimming in a lake is nowhere NEAR as
challenging as swimming in the Hawaiian surf, and your all-too-usual
flat bicycle course is a joke compared to the Hawaiian one.
I understand that Kansas isn't going to have much in the way of hills,
but then why be so strictly proportional most\all of the time? Why not
make the distance more relative to the difficulty?
I think it then comes down to the next one -
3. Since most triathletes are good runners and not great swimmers,
they favor the courses that emphasize their skills. As a result, they
gravitate to the events that have proportionally longer runs, and
event planners respond accordingly when they plan their course.

It's funny to see people complain that draft-legal events are bad
because they favor the strong runners when most non-draft events do
the same thing!

OK, fire away!
  #2  
Old July 3rd 03, 06:52 PM
Ray Plotecia
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Posts: n/a
Default Why aren't tri's more proportional?

We went around and around with this in the early 80s. The argument was
called "parity" The sport "evolved" to its distances. International was
mostly based on existing swim bike run distances. USTS series established
that into our sport. Ironman was based upon existing races in Hawaii.
Fletch Hanks in Oxford did an "equilateral" race that had a 5 mi swim 60 mi
bike and 20 mile run. Molina won it, but not too many wanted to swim that
far in cold water. I didn't. There have been experiments but we've settled
into what we have.

Ray


"topdog" wrote in message
m...
I was going to ask this before, and then I saw the following quote
today -

(snip)
I just wish there would be some longer
distance non-drafting events that had fairer swim lengths. (Change of
topicg!?) The ITU long distance races are closer to the Olympic
Distance proportions than IM distance proportions are but these races
are few. Would be good to see more middle distance races with
proportionately longer swims (like Muskoka) otherwise the strong
swimmers will continue to gravitate towards draft-legal events where
the swim (sometimes) can have more impact.
(snip)

I've long thought that tris heavily favor the run - proportionally,
the longest leg is almost always the run. Consider the last few tris
we had in our town -
1. 200 yd swim, 6 mi bike, 5k run
2. 1/2 mi swi, 18 mi bike, 6.8 mi run
I mean, these are hardly proportional! Yet, they seem to fit the
"average" race out there.
If you want another way to view it, consider that in olympic distance,
most of the swimmers finish within 10 min of the fastest one, yet the
time gap between the runners will be MUCH greater. And sorry, 18mi
bike doesn't even BEGIN to compare to a 6.8 mi run!
Personally, as a strong swimmer\cyclist and (at best) average runner,
this is frustrating as heck, and causes me to pick my races very
carefully.

Why is this? I guess there are several reasons -
1. Most triathletes have a running background. To them, it may seem
proportional, since they view a 10k the same way I view a 50mi ride -
no big deal.
2. Most tris seem to be wedded to the IM proportions, but don't factor
in the change in difficulty. Swimming in a lake is nowhere NEAR as
challenging as swimming in the Hawaiian surf, and your all-too-usual
flat bicycle course is a joke compared to the Hawaiian one.
I understand that Kansas isn't going to have much in the way of hills,
but then why be so strictly proportional most\all of the time? Why not
make the distance more relative to the difficulty?
I think it then comes down to the next one -
3. Since most triathletes are good runners and not great swimmers,
they favor the courses that emphasize their skills. As a result, they
gravitate to the events that have proportionally longer runs, and
event planners respond accordingly when they plan their course.

It's funny to see people complain that draft-legal events are bad
because they favor the strong runners when most non-draft events do
the same thing!

OK, fire away!



  #3  
Old July 3rd 03, 07:21 PM
hug
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Posts: n/a
Default Why aren't tri's more proportional?

"Ray Plotecia" wrote in message ...
We went around and around with this in the early 80s. The argument was
called "parity" The sport "evolved" to its distances. International was
mostly based on existing swim bike run distances. USTS series established
that into our sport. Ironman was based upon existing races in Hawaii.
Fletch Hanks in Oxford did an "equilateral" race that had a 5 mi swim 60 mi
bike and 20 mile run. Molina won it, but not too many wanted to swim that
far in cold water. I didn't.


Well I wouldn't be interested in a 5mile swim/60 mile bike/ 20 mile
run either - all are too long for my liking. Cut all legs in half and
I would CERTAINLY be interested! (And it STILL wouldn't be fair to
the swimmers...but definitely headed in the right direction!)

There have been experiments but we've settled
into what we have.


And some people (perhaps the swimmers) will never be happy just
settling I guess. I think it is a good thing for a sport to evolve
and try different formats. Super sprints are a blast. I think that
race in Ohio - Triple T??? sounds like a lot of fun - stage race with
a prologue, team time trials, individual time trials, different
distances. I don't think settling into one mold is necessarily a good
thing.

-hug
  #4  
Old July 3rd 03, 07:24 PM
topdog
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Posts: n/a
Default Why aren't tri's more proportional?

"Ray Plotecia" wrote in message ...
We went around and around with this in the early 80s. The argument was
called "parity" The sport "evolved" to its distances. International was
mostly based on existing swim bike run distances. USTS series established
that into our sport. Ironman was based upon existing races in Hawaii.
Fletch Hanks in Oxford did an "equilateral" race that had a 5 mi swim 60 mi
bike and 20 mile run. Molina won it, but not too many wanted to swim that
far in cold water. I didn't. There have been experiments but we've settled
into what we have.

Ray


I have no problems with the IM proportional distances, provided that
you maintain the IM difficulty with it. While a bike leg might provide
parity in steep terrain, it certainly wouldn't on a flat course, which
all too many races have. The same is true of swimming - an ocean swim
in Hawaii is incredibly more difficult than one in an inland lake of
the same distance - very little current and waves. Therefore, if we
decrease the course difficulty, the distances should increase to
provide a little more parity. As it is now, most of the time we have a
showcase for the best runners. If you are really strong on two legs,
you will do well - provided that one of those is running. If you're
strong on the swim and bike but just average on running, most of the
time you will never challenge.
  #5  
Old July 3rd 03, 07:36 PM
James Goddard
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Posts: n/a
Default Why aren't tri's more proportional?

"topdog" wrote in message
om...
While a bike leg might provide
parity in steep terrain, it certainly wouldn't on a flat course, which
all too many races have.


This is a common misconception. There are 2 distinct disavantages to flat
courses. One they often have wind. IM FL for example almost always has a
pretty stiff wind. I always prefer hills to wind, it's a psycological thing
about being able to see the hill as well as feel it. The other problem is
that on a flat course you are constantly using the same muscles in the same
way. The affect this has is always underestimated. It's the same for the
run, I always find a hilly marathon to be much easier than a flat one.




  #6  
Old July 3rd 03, 10:48 PM
BillX
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Default Why aren't tri's more proportional?

The problem I see with longer swims is that the "mid-pack" athletes are
doomed to slapping it out with others in their age group while the fastest
swimmers are relatively non-interfered. In my last race 50% of my age
group was within 1 minute of my time and I had to slap it out with them over
the entire distance. I'm against drafting but going off on the last swim
wave and being trapped inside a cluster of swimmers is worse than dealing
with disproportionate swim-bike-run distances.

"James Goddard" wrote in message
...
"topdog" wrote in message
om...
While a bike leg might provide
parity in steep terrain, it certainly wouldn't on a flat course, which
all too many races have.


This is a common misconception. There are 2 distinct disavantages to flat
courses. One they often have wind. IM FL for example almost always has a
pretty stiff wind. I always prefer hills to wind, it's a psycological

thing
about being able to see the hill as well as feel it. The other problem is
that on a flat course you are constantly using the same muscles in the

same
way. The affect this has is always underestimated. It's the same for the
run, I always find a hilly marathon to be much easier than a flat one.






  #7  
Old July 3rd 03, 11:54 PM
James Goddard
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Posts: n/a
Default Why aren't tri's more proportional?

"BillX" wrote in message
...
The problem I see with longer swims is that the "mid-pack" athletes are
doomed to slapping it out with others in their age group while the fastest
swimmers are relatively non-interfered. In my last race 50% of my age
group was within 1 minute of my time and I had to slap it out with them

over
the entire distance. I'm against drafting but going off on the last swim
wave and being trapped inside a cluster of swimmers is worse than dealing
with disproportionate swim-bike-run distances.


Go do Mrs. T's sometime. You'll never complain about another race being too
crowded again


  #8  
Old July 4th 03, 12:54 AM
topdog
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Default Why aren't tri's more proportional?


Well actually, an 18 mile bike is pretty close to being proportional
to a 6.8 mile run timewise for someone who is equally strong in the
bike and run. However, the swim is certainly short-changed in that
race if you are looking at the completion time of each leg. A strong
swimmer could do a half mile swim in 9 or 10 minutes, a top cyclist
would probably do 18 miles in under 45 mins and a top runner would be
able to do 6.8 miles in under 40 mins. So the bike is actually
favored a bit in this scenerio.


There's much more involved than actual time in the leg. Cycling is low
impact, and is going to require less energy over the same time period
as running. With cycling, you have help; with running, you must solely
bear and move the weight.
Another way to look at it - while a top cyclist might be able to do
the 18 mi in 45 min, a merely decent one would pull in not too far
behind him. OTOH, a decent runner would likely take a good 15 min
longer on the run.
Lastly, an 18 mi ride is usually considered beginner distance, while
6.8 mi on a run is definitely NOT.

I think it then comes down to the next one -
3. Since most triathletes are good runners and not great swimmers,
they favor the courses that emphasize their skills. As a result, they
gravitate to the events that have proportionally longer runs, and
event planners respond accordingly when they plan their course.


Most of the local races in NJ/PA/DE have swims of 1/4-1/2 mile, bikes
of 13-15 and runs of 5k-5 miles. Once a race director for one of the
races that has a 1/4 mile swim asked why I never do his race. I told
him it wasn't worth it for a 1/4 mile swim - if he upped it to a 1/2
mile I would be there. He said a 1/2 mile is too long for most folks,
he likes to have all levels from beginners to fast races (offers prize
money to top 3). Well then, maybe have a beginner's division where it
is a 1/4m swim (wetsuit allowed even if above 78) and then have a more
fair non-beginner's race with a longer swim. Mountain bike races have
novice races that are shorter than the sport races which are shorter
than the expert races. Tri could do the same if they are afraid of
losing beginners b/c they are afraid the swim is too daunting for
them. Triathlon has become so much more popular that most races sell
out ahead of time anyhow. Maybe it is time to start making the swim a
bit longer. Even IM races sell out immediately and Team in Training
gets beginners ready for 1/2 IM races, so the average Joe CAN swim 1.2
miles, IF he trains for the swim. (Why should anyone expect to be
able to do a triathlon without training anyhow!) Why not have a fairer
race - like a 1.5k swim, 15k-20k bike and 5k run?


I could handle that. Personally, I think you may be overdoing the swim
and underdoing the bike; however, the proportions are not what's
important - the question is, is the run overemphasized, and I think we
both feel that it is.
If nothing else, give us a bit more VARIETY, rather than just a
handful of races with longer swim\bike legs.
BTW, as a part time swim coach, I can attest to your point about swim
training - the biggest mistake I see is people not training properly
for the swim. OF COURSE you're going to die on a 1.2 mi swim if you're
hardly training, doing short distances, or doing the distance over
with a lot of breaks. No one would think of training for a 1/2 IM run
by just doing 2 mi once a week, yet I commonly see the equivalent of
that in the swim leg. To be fair, part of it is that running\biking
one can do almost anywhere, anytime, while swimming requires both a
pool and a time where there's an open lane (a lake works in the
summer, providing there's not a lot of power boating. This is still a
lot harder to do than the other legs.) Still, IMHO the sport shouldn't
make concessions because of lack of training, whatever the reason.

Happily, I have found a fairly proportional tri for my next targeted
race - 1/2 mi swim, 18 mi bike, 5k run. Sadly, this is the only one
like this I've seen all year!
  #9  
Old July 4th 03, 12:59 AM
topdog
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Default Why aren't tri's more proportional?

"James Goddard" wrote in message ...
"topdog" wrote in message
om...
While a bike leg might provide
parity in steep terrain, it certainly wouldn't on a flat course, which
all too many races have.


This is a common misconception. There are 2 distinct disavantages to flat
courses. One they often have wind. IM FL for example almost always has a
pretty stiff wind. I always prefer hills to wind, it's a psycological thing
about being able to see the hill as well as feel it. The other problem is
that on a flat course you are constantly using the same muscles in the same
way. The affect this has is always underestimated. It's the same for the
run, I always find a hilly marathon to be much easier than a flat one.


Wind is a sword that cuts both ways. If the course is a loop, you are
likely going to spend as much time with it behind you as you do with
it in your face.
Besides, it's usually the hills that separate the men from the boys
(just an expression, ladies! G). Take the Tour - the flat stages
always have a bunch finish, whereas the mountain stages break apart
the pack and the riders stagger in with some incredible time
differences. Personally, I know many riders that can go all day long
in the flats, windy or not (my wife is one of them), but put them on a
hilly course and what was a simple distance becomes a real trial to
finish.
  #10  
Old July 4th 03, 01:05 AM
James Goddard
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Posts: n/a
Default Why aren't tri's more proportional?

"topdog" wrote in message
om...
Wind is a sword that cuts both ways. If the course is a loop, you are
likely going to spend as much time with it behind you as you do with
it in your face.


Not quite. Even in a loop you spend more time with a headwind than a
tailwind if the wind remains constant. The rub is you go slower with the
headwind and therefore spend more time in it.


 




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