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RTC Sprint Race Strategy

RTC Sprint Race Strategy
April 17, 2017 Michael Harlow

The RTC Sprint Triathlon is one of the most unique and fun race formats you will do.  It begins with an open water pool swim, moving to a flat bike, and finishes with a 2-lap run in front of tons of spectators.  Endorphin Fitness will be out in storm with tons of athletes racing – it will be an awesome day.

WARM UP – Warming up before a sprint triathlon is key, especially one that involves a fast swim start.  Here is what we suggest:

    • 5:30am: Set up transition
    • 5:45am: Dynamic stretches followed by 10 min jog finishing with 3 x 50 yd strides
    • 6:00am: 15 min bike including 3 min at race pace at 10 min
    • 6:15am: Put bike back in transition and make sure everything is set
    • 6:30am: 10 min swim with 4 x 25 at race pace with 25 easy between each
    • 6:45am: Line up at start – stay loose by doing arm/leg strings and light stretching.

ZONES – Show up Saturday ready to challenge your perceived limitations.  The mind can do amazing things when put to the challenge.  My wish for all of you is that you find your breaking point in this race – that you walk the line between holding a certain pace and faltering.  Be willing to risk it and I promise you will be amazed. A sprint should be done in high zone 4 with the goal of really pushing yourself right under your breaking point.  This should put you at your zone 4 meter swim pace (the back and forth swim slows you slightly) and at or slightly faster (0-5 sec/mile) than zone 4 run pace according to your zones.


the swim is a back-and-forth open water swim around buoys but in a 50 meter pool.  Think snake swim without the lane lines.  Ten athletes will be called into the water at a time and take their position behind a start noodle.  You will want to lay horizontal in the water with your head in relaxed as you come into the start.  Make sure you are at the front of your group at the start.  When the gun goes off, get out hard and try to get to that first buoy in front.  Getting to that first buoy in front is key.  As you approach the buoy, you can make the turn really tight to it and almost go under it.  Find your rhythm on the way back and settle into your stroke.  If you are not in the front, DRAFT by locking onto someone’s shoulder (preferred) or feet.  As you start the final 50, increase your kick to get blood carrying oxygen to your legs for the run to transition and bike. Try to get to the front of anyone who you are with so you can control the pace as you exit the pool and run to transition as it is a tight passageway to start.

TRANSITION 1 – Know the flow of transition including where your bike is and move through it as quickly as possible. Transitions should not be ignored as you can save a lot of time here with just a little practice.  Remember that the less complicated set up the better.

the bike course is fairly fast. Your goal should be to take the intensity to a level where you can hear yourself breathing and sustain it.  Remember, challenge yourself.  You should be in zone 4 heart rate or wattage (if you have a power meter).  The course starts by taking a road out to the main road.  You will go down a short downhill into a right turn onto Iron Bridge Rd.  You will be on this road for just under 4 miles and the wind should be at your back.  Stay down and push this section. You will then make a right on White Pine going alongside the Chesterfield Airport before making a right on Belmont and then another right on Cogbill.  Everything up to this point is pretty flat to slightly rolling – nothing too bad in here.  Focus on hitting your goal intensity and staying aero.  After the right on Cogbill, you will encounter the biggest hill on the course but it is only a 70 foot climb so really nothing too much to worry about.  Try to stay aero going over this hill, but if you are feeling a little tight, this may be a good place to pop out of the saddle and stretch out by standing.  After that hill, it is slightly downhill all the way home.  When you make the left on Ironbridge, you will be about 1 mile from transition.  The final left onto Ridgedale has a small hill which is a good place to stand and stretch for the run followed by your signal to get out of your shoes and ready to run.

You should seek to consume 12-18 ounces of sports drink (on tabs with 24 ounces per hour).  Try to consume this evenly throughout the bike after the first 5 minutes and tapering off in the final 5 minutes so you do not experience any sloshing during the run.  This can be achieved by simply taking a few sips throughout the bike.

TRANSITION 2 is a pretty simple in-and-out!  Make sure you have some sort of speed lace system on your shoes so you don’t have to tie them as well as a race belt for your race number so you can put this on while running, and you are good to go.  Exiting transition, you will make a u-turn, run alongside the pool, and then head out onto your first of 2 loops.

the run course starts out flat for 3/4 mile with a slight short downhill in there around 0.4.  After this downhill, you will encircle a gated field.  After completing this loop, you will make a left and start going uphill slightly building incline through mile 1.1.  Again, this hill is not too bad but does take some effort to maintain pace.  After this, you will have a flat lollipop section and then return to this same spot before taking a left turn and running down a fairly steep downhill.  After your first loop, you will make a left here and run to where you started your first loop.  If done with your second loop, you will forego this left turn and continue straight downhill to the finish line.  Your goal is to finish with nothing in the tank…empty it here on this downhill!  I created a map gps profile at https://ridewithgps.com/routes/13252878 which I encourage you to take a look at – please note that the course is 3.2+ miles so a tad long.

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