A busy kind of triathlon weekend coming up at the end of a busy kind of triathlon week.
The coaching is really stepping up at the moment as Busso gets closer and closer. As we get to the pointy end of the season there are all sorts of things happening. We are running brick sessions most weekends and on top of that the bike and run sessions that we are run are getting pretty race focused. As well as those usual sessions, this week I am also coaching a run session tomorrow and then Sunday morning will be spent down supporting the team at one of the last Sprint Distance triathlons of the season. It is a pretty busy weekend.
If that wasn't enough Ironman 70.3 Liuzhou is on tomorrow which I will be watching with particular interest. For one Alistair Brownlee is racing and that is always worth watching. It will be interesting to see how he is going after the Commonwealth Games. The Commonwealth races weren't his finest display, but I think it is probably fair to say we weren't seeing him at the top of his game. The rumour is that he was a bit sick at the Games which could account for his slower than expected race. The other factor of course could be that Alistair and his brother have been focusing on Long Course racing and so his lack of short course form could simply have been an upshot of that. If he has been training hard for the longer races then it could be interesting to see how he goes tomorrow. Such a talented athlete that he is always exciting to watch.
To be honest though, while I am interested in the front end of the field, where I will be putting most of my attention is on the Age Group field. Liuzhou is one of those rare 70.3 events that has Kona spots available and so people come from far and wide to try their luck, including a friend or two of mine.
Qualifying for Kona from a 70.3 is always a bit contentious with many asking if racing a 70.3 warrants an invite to the Big Island. It is an issue that I don't wade into too deeply, although I do actually have a view on the topic. For me, if somebody is trying to qualify at a 70.3 because they can't manage it at an Ironman, or they haven't done an Ironman, then I think they should be giving it a second thought. An Ironman is a very particular kind of race and Kona is pretty particular again. If you are going to do an Ironman on Kona there shouldn't be any question marks on your ability to do the race. If you are heading to Kona unsure whether you can even do the distance, then it perhaps isn't the race for you. I qualified for Kona from a 70.3 back in 2013 and I didn't take my slot. At the time I had a couple of reasons for not going, but one of them was that I hadn't done an Ironman. At the time I was a month away from doing my first Ironman and part of my thinking at the time was that if I was going to deserve a Kona slot then I would earn it there. If I couldn't earn the slot at the Ironman then perhaps I wasn't actually good enough to go.
However, on the flip side, if you are an established Ironman athlete and a race like Liuzhou is simply a convenient way to punch your ticket while avoiding the early season training, wear and tear and recovery that goes with an Ironman, then I think it is a pretty smart move tactically. Doing an Ironman takes an awful lot out of you so if you can do one less Ironman in a season and still get to Kona then I think it is a pretty good idea. I know people who used Liuzhou for that purpose last year and I thought it was a smart choice on their behalf. My friends who are there this year fit this category quite comfortably and so I wish them all the luck and I will be watching with intense interest. There are less slots available at the race this year and so getting to Kona from Liuzhou is going to be pretty tough, it more or less needs a win for most age groups.
Between the coaching and the spectating it sure is going to be a pretty solid weekend of triathlon.