2016 USAT Age Group Triathlon National Championship
Saturday, August 13, 2016, 7:30am (first wave)
(Sprint-distance on Sunday, August 14th, 7:30 first-wave)
Carter Lake Park, Omaha, NE
The event's official webpage can be found HERE.
This review is for the Olympic Distance held on Saturday. For information about the sprint distance triathlon (held on Sunday), see the sprint event's official webpage HERE.
I sorta have bad luck (thus far) when it comes to USAT Championship races. At the 2015 Du Nationals, a bike mech issue added 12min to the bike leg, and nausea slowed my run. At the '16 Du Nationals, my watch crapped out and my legs seized up mid-run-2. Just a matter of days ago, at the Midwest Regionals, I missed the turn for Olympic course on the bike, and did the sprint course as well, adding nearly 15k to the bike leg. So, really, I'm oh-for-three.
Needless to say, I'm ready for a redemption on the national level. Omaha, site for the 2016 Age Group Triathlon Nationals, is actually my birth city, and the race itself is on roads I've raced before. Perhaps that helps? We'll will soon see.
Race Expo & Packet Pick-Up
Thursday, August 11, 2-6pm &
Friday, August 12, 10am-6pm,
Levi-Carter Park, Omaha, NE (race venue)
(late packet pick-up for sprint-distance athletes only will also be
available on Saturday, from 2-6pm, also at the race venue)
USAT's official schedule is a fantastic resource. A nice little perk: both Olympic and Sprint events are on the same webpage. Definitely keep this bookmarked on your computer/phone and check back often. It'll be a saving-grace.
On the schedule includes race expo and packet pick-ups, which, oh by-the-way, is NOT olympic-specific (sprint-distance athletes will use the same expo). The expo extends to Sunday, day of the sprint-distance race, but there will be no packet pick-up at that time. Packets must be received at least the day prior to race day. Bring a photo ID and your USAT membership card for pick-up, and you cannot pick up others' packets.
The expo tent (where pick-up will be) will be located just to the west of transition. The USAT's website has a great map of the venue layout, including parking area. Check it out...
Race Day Parking
It's always tough to know what to expect with parking, but you'll note on the venue map above whereabouts the parking area will be. I would LIKE to assume they'll have a decent number of volunteers directing traffic. They have noted that the above parking area should be accessed using the following road. Just continue east on Grand/Carter Ave from 13th.
If you want to check out their own parking map, similar to the venue map posted above, USAT has a nifty courses webpage (with the bike, swim, and run routes, too) you can check out.
There are shuttles available to transition from a couple of hotels in downtown Omaha. Information is forthcoming via email from USAT.
First, the basics...
A dock will be set up in the middle of Carter Lake. This is the start. From what I understand, you will not jump from the dock on start, rather start from in the water, which eases the intimidation factor a little bit (for me at least, if no one else). OF NOTE, the opposite side of the dock from the start area includes a warm-up area (SWEET).
For those that want extra practice prior to race day, there will be allocated practice swim times:
*Friday, August 12th, 11am-1pm, Carter Lake (open to both Olympic and Sprint athletes)
*Saturday, August 12th, 2:30-4pm, Carter Lake (open to ONLY Sprint athletes)
No word on if you'll be able to practice on the actual 1500m (or 500m, as it were) course, or otherwise, but presumably the answer would be "yes" since the buoys will be out there and set up anyways.
Anyways, the race course itself is a single-loop, horseshoe-style swim. Not really that tough, navigation-wise, though traffic will likely be an issue (esp. within the first 300m, or nearly the entire leg for Sprint athletes).
There is about a 250m run up from the swim exit to transition, and swimmers appear to enter in to transition from the southwestern-most corner, according to official USAT maps.
Here's the what it looks like, buoy locations and everything... (red line = bike course, blue line = run course, teal = swim course)
The bike is a simple out-and-back from the northeastern corner of transition out on to 12th St. A left on to Abbott Drive turns in to the Arthur C Storz Expressway. A right on to 16th St, followed by a quick left on to John J Pershing Drive, and you're on the main stretch -- keep on this road all the way north to the turn-around. The first few turns are within the first 5k of the 40k route, so remember on the return that the last 5k will be technical-ish.
A mile after turning on to John J. Pershing gives a little uptick in the road, but not enough to be considered a significant climb. And though there are a few rollers as you head north, the only real climb comes 7.5mi in to the bike, right at the Ponca Road intersection (hence the name). At over a half mile and up 5.8% average grade, it's not terrifically steep, but it will present a touch of challenge.
However, the real challenge comes when climbing the hill from the north slope: Starting at 15.3mi in to the bike, it's not the grade that is punishing so much as the length, at nearly a mile and half. Southbound Ponca Hill is divided in half by a quarter-mile flat, although even that in spots marks it as more of a false flat.
Tired cyclists will find comfort in the fact that the 10k run leg is flat, with an average gradient of under 1% for the whole course. No significant climbs to speak of. In fact, the halfway turn-around even presents with its own nifty little gimmick: A lap around the new CenturyLink Stadium, home of the college world series (you can even look for yourself on the big screen). No real turns to speak of (other than the run-in to the stadium). Finish is west of transition. Easy-peasy (HA-HA).
Check back post-race for a link to results, photos, and also for an on-bike video produced by yours-truly.
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