2016 Nations Triathlon – Washington DC

competitor milling about before the race

competitor milling about before the race

This year I took advantage of TriRock’s discounted 2 Olympic triathlon early registration special rate   and this was my second TriRock race (its part of TriRock series but without the the name TriRock.. go figure ) . The race is Washington DC’s main triathlon. The race now has both Sprint and Olympic distances in the same event plus relay divisions, so there are plenty of ways for folks to participate.

Weather was nice a little humid early the heat (we were still in a bit of a heat/humidity wave) was definitely going to be a factor later on the run. This years race took place on 9/11 so a little somber mood in the start, but a lifting national anthem sung by one of the competing  reservists put everyone in a great mood.

SWIM (Cancelled)

View of Potomac near Arlingont Mem. Bridge- no swimming today

View of Potomac near Arlington Mem. Bridge- no swimming today

The  day we arrived in DC (Friday) , they announced that the swim in the Potomac would be cancelled due to on-going water quality issues..  To the chagrin of many competitors this is the second time within the last few years that the swim was cancelled for similar reasons.

Many of the competitors at packet pick up were not all too happy that this was a last minute thing, considering the water quality issues were probably similar months back. I too was disappointed, but having done enough of these things, the swim leg is always suspect because of its inherent risks, and no race management wants to be liable for exposing swimmers to dangerous conditions, whether it be water quality, rough surf, strong currents or whatever , race officials are always at the mercy of their permits and  local authorities who make the water-safety call.

With no swim, a modified, Run-T1-Bike-T2-Run was in place. The first run was just about 150m from the “swim-exit” chute up to T1 , athletes were started every few seconds in groups of three’s.


early miles, riding past back of  Lincoln Memorial

early miles, riding past back of Lincoln Memorial

Hoping on the bike fresh as a daisy. I looked to establish a steady rhythm early. I was riding the Shiv again for this event. The bike course meanders around the perimeter of the Potomac and the Georgetown neighborhood of DC. Its a pretty fast course, with nice gradual elevations changes.  My only complaint on this bike course is the number of 180° turns (there are six of them 3 per loop).  I was feeling pretty good, and establishing a nice tempo.

Riding past mile 19, Arlington Memorial  bridge in background

Riding past mile 19, Arlington Memorial bridge in background

There were a lots of folks out on the course already, but with the roads closed to traffic, most stayed to the right side and it made passing easier. Its a pretty neat bike course as you travel over and under tunneled overpasses . I was moving along nicely as fast as a sustained 27mph in some sections, only when nearing the dreaded 180 turns did I slow.

Overall the bike effort was pretty good, the Olympic distance course features two loops, then a final out and back section over the 14th St. bridge. This section frankly sucks because a portion of it has a no-pass zone over the bridge, but again, many competitors passed anyway. I also was fidgeting with my Shiv’s “Fule Cell” storage rubber compartment, as it appeared to be coming loose, so I spent too many miles making sure it didn’t flop out.

Nonetheless I finished the nearly 40km (23.75mi) in a decent time, probably could have gone a few minutes faster, but overall was happy with the effort.


Runners exit out of T2

Runners exit out of T2

Run started out ok, after an ok T2 , I put on the running shoes and onto the run I went. Having run this course before I was pretty aware of the route. You start heading South east towards the Capitol Building before turning right . Honestly you really only pass “in front” of one monument (Washington Monument) all the other sites of DC are off in the distance, such as the Jackson Memorial.

As I turned to head back into West Potomac Park , where most of the run actually takes place. the heat started to affect me and I had to unzip my Trisuit for a little more comfort. I tried to hang with one guy  near the 5lm mark who was running a nice 7:30ish pace, but couldn’t hold on, the remaining 5km was pathetically slow. Again the heat didn’t help, all three of my longer races this year featured abysmal run efforts. I can blame it on the heat but more  realistically I need to really work on my run this winter.


here I am finishing another hot and humid race

here I am finishing another hot and humid race

Not really mustering any great effort I finished the race exhausted but not totally spent. I was happy with the performance except the run.

As far as race amenities, there’s a nice tented area with food, drinks and places for family, friends and competitors to linger around. There’s a band music and an awards ceremony. The finish area is pretty well supported.

It does seem to me that the overall race organization is not up to what it used to be, partially due to the poor planning regarding the swim cancellation. A lot fewer volunteers on the course and less amenities at the expo .  It’s becoming clear to me that putting on these big city races, is becoming less and less economically viable, and the first place its felt is with fewer and fewer athlete and course amenities .

All that said, I think I will do Nations Tri one more time, hopefully they will have a swim.


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