Similar to any race with a time cutoff, it’s helpful to craft a plan by breaking it down to the specific time targets and distances needed per day to make the cutoff. It’s a common sense, right?
Considering the 28 day cutoff for Trans Am Tri, it does not appear to be that difficult to manage the specifics. However, after racing in many self supported cross country 3000+ mile bike events over the last several years, one thing I have learned is that the common goal of averaging 200 miles per day become quite difficult.
When looking at the statistics during the last 3 Trans Am Bike Races of the number of athletes finishing under 21 days (self supported 4,400 miles) - averaging just over 200 miles a day were the following:
- 2019 8 Athletes
- 2018 7 Athletes
- 2017 11 Athletes
There were 153 Total finishers during this 3-year period.
What it shows is that the goal of 200 miles per day is much more difficult to accomplish than one thinks. Personally, my goal in 2016 was the same as almost every other rider I met at the starting line in Astoria, Oregon for the Trans AM Bike Race. After the first several days, I clearly learned that 200 a day is very tough task during a self supported event. In 2016 the legend - Lael won the event. That year there were only 4 athletes who broke 21 days as it was a brutally hot year.
As I witnessed in 2016, many superior athletes were dropping out and pushing too hard from the start. It was clear that averaging 200 miles a day was going to be very difficult. I remember vividly during the first two days, I was averaging over 200 miles a day, then reality set in with respect to the time requirements needed to resupply, find a place to sleep and various time wasters that just creep in when you get tired.
So for those of you competing in the Trans Am Tri, consider this strategy as a baseline toward a finishing target of 28 days. Everyone has different strengths in the swim, bike and run – but having a baseline will help to keep you on track.
Example: 28- Day finish
31 mile swim – Plan on 1.5 days. That would include potential breaks and a sleep after the swim. This is very conservative as the cutoff for the swim is 36 hours.
2800 – 2900 mile (approximate) Self Supported bike - Plan on 19 days maximum. This is a reasonable 150 miles per day average. This will take into account higher average bike mileage days and the bad days for bike mechanicals, weather slowing issues, etc.
Assuming that the bike is a bit slower or a buffer for heat issues, let’s add another day. Therefore, the run begins on day 20.
320 mile Run (approximate) through the heat and Death Valley onward to the Pacific Ocean. With 8 days to finish the run, the goal would be approximately 40 miles a day. Let’s assume that things don’t go according to plan, which is almost GUARANTEED, and there are only 7 days to finish the run, then add another 5-6 miles per day onto the average target.
One thing that we all know is that in a self or semi-supported ultra long endurance event, is you must Re-Adjust the plan and Improvise on the go. Having a baseline plan is helpful so you have some specific targets, but if you are behind don’t panic as we all have the opportunity to rally the body and mind when the pressure is with a race cutoff time.
Trans Am Tri will be an EPIC adventure for all the athletes!