David Smith reviews the HITS Hunter Mountain Half Ironman course. A tough course because it goes up a mountain but all the more satisfying because of that – and with great race organisation!
HITS Hunter Mountain Half
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Who Are you?
David Smith- I race about 10-12 Triathlons a year. Love the 70.3 distance the most. I am a solid AG competitor-once in a while I manage to stand on the podium.
Hunter, New York, USA
Why did I do this race?
I wanted to check out the HITS Series for one. Two they offer a free super short open distance that I was able to get my son to race and third- I love hills.
The swim was a single loop with left turns (most of my races have right turns, but I like breathing more on the left so this was pretty cool). The water was cool- about 65 degrees- perfect wetsuit water. And the lake was pretty clear so finding friendly feet to draft was rather easy. There was only one wave for the half and full (the full did two laps) so we had a pretty nice scrum at the start. I did have to flip on my back twice to clear my left goggle, but within settled in to a nice steady stroke. I felt pretty strong and consistent through out the entire swim.
The only real challenge was when we turned at the final swim buoy, we were swimming into the sun rise so sighting was a bit hard. But since I was in a pretty good pack, I stayed on course and was quickly out of the water. I usually swim about 37-38 minutes for the . This race I was out of the water in 34:45 and hit the transition mat at 35:35ish. I was pretty happy about that, although I knew it was likely the swim would be the only fast leg- after all we were racing on a Mountain.
The first were flat to a slight downhill and I hammered Hard. While I had not ridden the course, HITS is working with Map My Tri to showcase route details including elevation, so my pre race strategy was to ride hard during the first and then sit up during climb or the last – at an average grade of 5%. I executed well- first in about 1:25. Next 26 in about 1:27. Total time 2:52. Which is about 15 minutes slower than what I usually do, but I knew the course was very hard so I was happy with my effort. And coming into T2 I felt very good- legs were loose, stomach was fine and I was looking forward to 13.1 of up and down- yeah the run was a lot like the bike. There were 4 aid stations- one every but I did not need to stop.
An out and back with minimal turning laterally, but lots of up and downs! The first were pretty much downhill outside of two short but very steep hills. Then the next were rolling hills. I felt pretty good- although I did have two blister form and pop- one on each heel. Once they popped I did not feel any pain (but knew I would later). Since the first were downhill, the last four miles were uphill. I ran slower than I would have liked, but never once felt like I needed to walk or even slow down (my body did that on its own). Normally I run a 1:40-1:45 for the run- but I ran a 1:58. Given the heavy climbing and the fact that I was recovering from a minor knee injury I was very pleased.
Transition is set up very nice- each racer has their own area including personal rack and a stool. Plenty of room, nice and flat and easy to get in and out.
T1- I am pretty good at T1 and T2. I do a good job of getting my gear set up and come into the Transition area with a clear plan of what I need to do and in what order. What was pretty cool is the AV crew was taking video of me as I got ready to head out on the bike- I will share the link if I can get it. Time was about 1:15.
T2- nailed it- 46 seconds. My T1 time was the fastest and T2 was second so practice and consistency works.
Outstanding race organization. Mark Wilson who is the race Director did a great job sharing insights about the course, which was well marked. Pre race had a clear athlete guide, packet pick-up was great. Post race- plenty of food- bagels, pretzels, HEED recovery drinks, lemonade, coke, ice tea and fruit.
Top Triathlon Tips
- Do this series as they offer 5 distances- Open, Sprint, Olympic, Half and Full on each weekend they race. I will definitely do it again and in multiple locations. Great value, great experience & great race!
How did you do?
Total time- 5:28:53. 18th place overall and 4th in my AG (40-44). In the last two years I have been pretty consistent finishing in the top 10-15% in most races and my performance was on track.
Without a doubt this was the hardest 70.3 I have done (number 6 so far). But also very satisfying. I nailed the swim, nutrition, transitions and executed my pre race strategy. I will definitely do another HITS race and recommend it very much to everyone else. And bring one of your non triathlete friends to do the open- soon they will be one of your triathlete friends!
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