A First-Timer’s Guide To Watching An ITU Race

  • By Aaron Hersh
  • Published Apr 18, 2013
  • Updated May 15, 2015 at 1:29 PM UTC
Photo: Larry Rosa/

What’s important and what isn’t?

Making the front groups on the swim is absolutely critical. Any athlete unable to stay with the first or second pack will not only have to ride faster than the leaders, but do so without the benefit of sharing the work load with dozens of other athletes. Keep an eye out for any favorites left behind in the swim. They’re likely to have a long day.

San Diego’s course is very flat, which will make a bike breakaway unlikely in this particular event. If there’s one person in the world who can do it, Brownlee is that guy. Strong riders in the women’s field are likely to save their strength for the run.

Riding at the front of the bike pack keeps an athlete at lower risk for a crash, but that’s about it. The people in the last quarter of the pack are working harder than the leaders because they are forced to sprint out of every corner to catch up. Closely watch the last miles of the ride—all the athletes will be scrambling for the first few positions into transition. Entering T2 a few seconds back can be a death sentence to someone’s chances for the win.

A breakaway on the bike can earn valuable time, but rarely translates into a win.

Unlike long-course racing, the ITU athletes blast out of T2 at incredible speeds. Expect Gomez and Brownlee to rip through the first half-mile of the run at about 4:20/mile pace. Any athlete unable to match this explosive burst is at an immediate disadvantage. Because of this torrid start to the run, any male who bobbles T2 will struggle to make the lead pack.

While the women also rip out of transition, the key moments in their race often take place in the middle miles. Look for elite runners such as Hewitt, Riveros Diaz, Haug and Americans Jorgensen and Groff to settle the race between miles 2 and 4, leaving just a few athletes to duke it out for the victory.

RELATED: Alistair Brownlee Thrills Home Crowd, Earns Olympic Gold

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FILED UNDER: News / Race Coverage TAGS:

Aaron Hersh

Aaron Hersh

Aaron Hersh is the Senior Tech Editor of Triathlete magazine. To submit a question, write Aaron at

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