Monday, June 2, 2008

ITU Triathlon World Championships Week - Spectator's Guide


OK, we are into the final week before the big race.  This post is your guide to the schedule, events, and the storylines that I feel are compelling...

This event is huge.  There are World Championship Races in the following categories:

-Sprint Distance
-Age Group
-AWAD (Athletes with a Disability)

There is also a:

-Citizens Race
-Corporate Challenge Race

In all there will be more than 2700 athletes competing between Thursday and Sunday.

Let's get my own personal details out of the way first...

I am racing at the ungodly hour of 6:45 am on Saturday the 7th.

Swim Start:  English Bay
Swim Exit:  2nd Beach - Stanley Park
Bike Course:  4 laps of Stanley Park (start/finish at 2nd Beach)
Run Course:  Route on paths around and near 2nd Beach/Lost lagoon
Finish Line:  Near 2nd Beach

I will require about 2:35-2:45 to finish the course.  There is a chance they will shorten the swim due to the freezing water....  if that happens, swim times and overall times will drop by 5 or 10 minutes depending on the distance.

The best place to watch would be near 2nd beach - you can see the swim exit, the transitions and then wander to the finish which is at the park at Denman and Beach Ave.  Cheer nice and loud - you'll have to look for me (I can't say I'll be the only guy with one leg...  because there will be a bunch of us!)

The Elite Races 

Sunday June 8th

Women 1:00 pm
Men 4:00 pm

The Elite Races take place on Sunday.  The elites will be racing for the World Champion title.  In a non-Olympic year this race would be the pinnacle of the race schedule - the biggest race -  for an ITU World Cup athlete.  This year there are many more storylines to follow:

Olympic Selection - Most countries have chosen some of their Olympic team already but many, including Canada and the U.S. have spots remaining to be claimed.  In the case of the Canadian team - Simon Whitfield and Lauren Groves were selected based on exceptional 2007 results.

Behind them there is a hotly contested battle brewing for the final 2 spots for men and women.  The men:  there are 4 athletes vying for 2 spots.  Look for Paul Tichelaar, Brent McMahon, Colin Jenkins, and Kyle Jones to duke it out....  most of these guys train together and are friends but will be looking to lay a beat down on Sunday to get to Beijing.  I am cheering for Paul who needs a top eight result to punch his ticket.  I met Paul in Kelowna at the Apple triathlon a few years ago and have been following his progress since then....  Go Paul!

In the Women's race Kirsten Sweetland - a young Canadian phenom from Victoria will be looking to punch her ticket with a great result.  She will be battling with Carolyn Murray and Kathy Tremblay for Olympic selection.

If none of these athletes manage a top 8 the decision will go to a Selection Committee....

Race Favourites - Men:  Javier Gomez (Spain) - Winner of 8 of his last 10 races.  This dude dominates.  Definitely the man to beat.  Simon Whitfield (Canada) - Canada's 2000 Olympic Champion, winner of the World Cup here last year and the second ranked ITU athlete last year.  Racing at home Simon could pull it out...

Women:  Vanessa Fernandez (Portugal) - She is dominant.  She has won more races than any other woman and is rarely beat.  She is looking to defend the title she won in Hamburg last year.  Emma Snowsill (Australia) - Lightning runner and ranked second to Fernandez.  Home Favourite - Kirsten Sweetland (Canada) - last year was her first year racing on the ITU circuit and she had some great results including one victory.  

I recommend watching as much of the swim as you can (it is two laps - 1000 and 500) then rushing over to a spot close to the finish line where you will watch the bikes come by 8 times and the runners come by 3 times.  The finish is right at the park at the foot of Denman near Beach Avenue.  You won't have to move and the athletes will roar past 11 times!  It is sweet - I watched in Hamburg after my race and it was incredible....

If you go down earlier on Sunday you can watch the U23's as well and practice your spectating to determine the prime positioning!

See you there!

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