by Danny Robdrup
Super League Triathlon racing is an incredible experience. Entering this event is something everyone should try once, probably more though.
I experienced Super League in Penticton in 2018. It was a superb event, even if it was shut down early by raging wildfires and smoke-filled air. The smoke took nothing away from the amazing beauty of being in the mountains and the clear lakes of the Okanagan Valley.
The age-group race set up for Penticton was to be a three-day affair. Day 1 was a cycling time trial at Area 27, a local race course meant for super-fast cars.
It was the smoothest pavement I have ever ridden, better than fresh black top on the highway’s edge. We lined up and took off after the pro field, cutting through the air with little resistance from the ground. The course was fast and required some technical ability through the turns. This is where you find out how much you trust your bike, its tires, and your skills.
Your placement after this TT was your starting position for the following day.
Day 2 was a multisport event unlike anything I have ever been in. There are whole new feelings that you get to experience at an event like this.
We started off with a fast, short swim and then straight into a 2km run. You might think that is all, since the bike was completed yesterday… but it is not.
The next part is easy to describe, but difficult on your body. Immediately after completing the 2km run, we jumped back into the water for the 2nd swim. There is something they do not tell you though: there is no blood in your arms.
This means that you do not get to feel them while you are swimming, and it feels like you are going nowhere. Then, just as you start to get feeling back in your arms during the swim, it’s over and you’re onto the next section of the race, the draft-legal bike course.
If only I could tell which bike was mine…
Between all this madness there are transitions. Getting lost is a real threat so it is key to remember which sport is next on your list. Heading out on the run course when it’s bike time will set you back a long way.
The draft legal bike course. This was a unique experience drafting in a group along the edge of grape fields. We were in wine country and the scenery was beautiful -- not that there was much time to look around and admire it. After the hill climb, we got into a solid group trying to catch the lead pack a minute ahead. Taking turns pulling, I decided to back off at the end heading towards the downhill and fuel a bit more for the upcoming run. This also allowed me to avoid any mishaps that could have happened on the descent with a group of riders.
Into transition and onto my favorite part of triathlon: the run. Managing to run past the group of cyclists I let go at the top of the hill, I came across the line in a solid position. Finishing a truly exceptional race felt amazing and I was all geared up for Day 3, a back-to-back sprint triathlon.
Unfortunately, we never got to race the final day as the smoke was dense and it was not safe to get into a high ventilatory effort. That, however, did not take away from the experience that will forever be one of my favorite race experiences to date.
A fast race with lots of great competition, along with a cool medal as a keepsake. A fun event that was great for those who were spectating on a lapped course with a small footprint. In all honesty, this is the route triathlon/multisport needs to take to get into the viewing schedules of people around the world.
Thanks for a great event, Macca and crew!
Danny Robdrup is the head coach of Zephyrs Endurance Coaching, part of the MX Endurance Network.
The common refrain is: take your time, listen to your body, and let it heal.
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