Wednesday, April 3, 2013

North American Championships-St. George 2013 Preview

Only a few days after Amber finished 10th at Oceanside 70.3, she has informed me that she wants to race again. Now! Apparently two 70.3 races in three weeks was not enough for her. Unfortunately for her, she doesn't have another race until May 4th. Fortunately for her, this will give her ample time to fully recover and prepare for the North American Championships in St George. If you may recall, St George was my first Ironman and Amber's first as a professional. A flat tire, several broken spokes and a 45 minute wait on the side of the road made this race one for which she will certainly be seeking redemption.

She won't be able to get redemption on the Ironman course because as of last year, there is no IM race in St. George. It has been changed to a 70.3 race and it appears that they've just halved the distances for all of the events while keeping the course pretty similar. This year, St. George is hosting the North American 70.3 Championships which means that despite the fact that St. George is notoriously slow, there most likely will be some records set. And LOTS of fast racers shooting to be the ones setting them.

Here's a little run down of the race:

The Venue
Like gambling? Well, there's this little place called Las Vegas that we're flying in/out of and they have been known to have a few games. Don't linger too long here though because the real fun is off the strip. On your way to St. George, it's worth a side trip to Valley of Fire where there are some amazing Native American Petroglyphs and some fun places for rock climbing. My dad and I visited it several years ago when out in Vegas.
Amber battling the one armed bandits

Zion is only 40 miles away. This is a must see national park. While not as big as Bryce or Canyons it is just as amazing. Last time we were there we visited the day before so only took the tour through it. This time, I'm hoping that we have enough time to get out and hike a bit and really explore. This alone makes this trip exciting.    The town of St. George is great in itself. The people are friendly, the town center is cute and plenty of places nearby outside to explore.
Amber at Zion
The Course
SwimThe swim remains the same. In the history of this race, the swim has been 1)freezing cold where nearly a 1/4 of the field DNF'd after the swim, 2)blinding from a rising sun directly in the eyes of the swimmers limiting sighting, and 3) death defying with 40mph winds kicking up huge winds knocking swimmers way off course.
Should be fun. I wouldn't necessarily expect another 24:27 from Amber on this challenging swim course but I do expect that she will again come out with the main pack to start the bike.
Quick Stats:
     -Average Temperature: 60 and 64 degrees
     -Distance: 1.2 miles
The swim

From my understanding, the bike course has not changed from when we did it-other than be shortened from 112 to 56 miles. While this course is described as very hilly, I remember it having a gradual climb on nice pavement to rolling flattish terrain until you came to the loop. The loop certainly had a few climbs in it but nothing too steep or sustained. What it did have was a section of chip sealed pavement somewhere along the way that certainly slowed down the riding. Also on the second loop(which Amber won't be doing) the wind picked up on the back stretch which seemed always to be at our heads. For people coming off races like Mooseman, St. George should be a breeze(the cool element of puns are lost when you have to point them out, right?).
Quick Stats:
    -Distance: 56 miles
The bike- note the pavement quality...
    -Elevation Gain: 2,552 feet

    I had heard the run course was changed where they primarily stayed in town. However, looking at the course map it appears that it is the same course. This involves a slight false flat climb to a steep climb and descent before turning around and doing it in reverse. The back side of the course is likely where athletes will win or lose the race. That descent before the turn-around is brutally steep and takes a lot out of your legs. You then lose momentum having to turn around and have to climb back up that steep pitch. If you can make it to the park and still feel good, it's time to kick it up a bit. Shouldn't be a terribly fast run course this year despite all the exceptional runners scheduled to race.
Quick Stats:
    -Distance: 13.1 miles
    -Elevation Gain: 709 Feet

Fellow Zoot athlete, Ben Hoffman, glad to be done- with the win of course

The Pro Start List
The pro start list won't be out until about two weeks before the race, but after seeing the quality of the fields at San Juan and Oceanside, I suspect that St. George will be nothing short of epic. Despite a slow course, I expect a VERY fast race. Will keep you updated as we find out who will be racing.

The Dets
How? Not quite sure how Amber does it, but typically swim, bike and run...
When? May 4th 7am
Where? St. George, UT
How to follow? Danny will be posting updates on Facebook and you can track Amber on's live coverage.
Why? No one knows:)

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