A Double Header–Part 1

This week I raced in Las Vegas on Thursday at the Super Sprint Grand Prix, then again on Sunday at the Lifetime Fitness Tempe Triathlon. I was 6th place in Vegas and 4th in Tempe.

StoryMensSwim1The Super Sprint, which is broadcast by Universal Sports in October was different and fun. The race was held in the parking lot outside the Las Vegas Convention Center. The swim was in a 10 lane, 25 meter, portable pool, while the bike and run were on a criterium course that wound it sway around the parking lot. Each “hit”, as they call it in the Grand Prix world, was a 300 meter swim, a 7-lap 5 mile bike and a 3-lap 1.5 mile run. Since the pool could only accommodate 10 athletes at a time, there were three single “hit” qualifying heats in the morning where the top 3 athletes from each heat would return for finals.

I won my qualifying heat and progressed to finals.

At 9pm that night, under flood lights and in front of cameras and spectators we raced a two-hit final. This means that after the first hit we ripped off our running shoes, grabbed a pair of goggles and dove right back into the pool for a second round.

182-632x421In finals I had a terrible swim. The way the pool was designed it was really hard to execute a proper flipturn and after nearly missing the wall on the first two turns I found myself behind the wake of the men around me. I exited the water last, but transitioned quickly and found myself on the back of a train being pulled by Cameron Dye. We bridged up to the small breakaway and the group started the first run together. I took the lead after the first lap and pushed the pace into T3. Diving back in I felt the familiar pain of the Super Sprint Sink – where your legs fall to the bottom of the pool and you feel like you’ve forgotten how to swim. Lucky for me, the other 9 guys felt the same way and I came out of the water right in the middle of the pack.

This time Cameron let some other guys take turns pulling, but the group entered T5 together again. Pulling my feet out of my bike shoes I accidentally unclipped a shoe and with only a few meters left before dismount I had to clip back in and get my foot out. I slowed and went from the front of the pack to the back. Worse, when I got to my running shoes I found the insoles pulled out and I had to shove them back in before I could get my shoes on. I left transition last with a gap in front of me, and my shoes were still not on properly. The first lap I heel striked to try to get my feet to seat into the heal-cup properly and wished I had taken the extra half second to adjust before I started running. Still, I’d lost about 5 second in transition and the group was running harder than on the first hit. I fell to 8th place and was looking at a gap in front of me. The second lap I started moving toward the stragglers and entering the third lap, with 800 meters left, I decided an early kick 281-632x421was my only shot. I passed Tommy Zafares, I caught Cameron Dye and heading into the final turn I reached the shoulder of Luke Farkas. But my kick was in it’s twighlight and those guys were ready to respond. Luke left me in what felt like a drag race between a corvette and a a smart car. I leaned toward the finish but Cameron came back from behind and edged me out. I finished sixth, but the top 7 were only about 7 second apart.

I love the Super Sprint format. It’s exciting, the spectators are close enough to be part of the entire race, and the high pace leaves no room for error. It’s great to have enthusiastic race organizers pushing the envelope of triathlon as a spectator friendly sport.

Here’s a promo video from the event:

Published by Ben

Ben Collins Professional Triathlete

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