After reading everyone's race reports for this race I'm wondering if I did the same race. It was by far the worst race I have ever done starting with race management to the course itself. Ironically, what I thought would be the most challenging part of the weekend was the easiet part - getting in and out of DC.
I have three big complaints about the race which strangely no one mentioned.
First complaint is the organization of bike slots in transition area. They were not arranged in numerical order and seemingly to me no order at all. Over 5000 bike slots and no apparent structure. It took me a good 5 minutes on Saturday afternoon to find my bike slot among the disjointedness. So I did I was taught, find markings in the surroundings so that I could find my bike slot on race day and not rely on row numbers. Somehow I didn't do a good enough job of this and it took me over 6 minutes in T1. I honestly thought someone had taken my bike out by accident. Maybe there was a logical reason for the transition layout, and since there was a mandatory meeting on Saturday before packet pickup, it seems like a perfectly good opportunity to explain something that was different from how most other triathlons are run. Ultimately, it was my responsibility to find my slot but this could have been made easier.
Second is the condition of the roads. We all joke about how substandard the roads in DC are (thankfully, a good portion of the bike race is in MD). And it is one thing to experience pot holes and such in your car but quite another while riding your bike. Even me driving the bike course gave me no indication how wretched the roads and bridge joints would be on my bike. Two different times my aerobars, which started parallel to the road, where jarred about 15-20 degrees toward the road. Each time I thought for sure I was going down. By the time the race ended, my aerobars were nearly perpendicular to the road!! Yet I still could not move them by force after the race ended. They were firmly in place. In fact, one of the bumps was so bad that someone was on a bullhorn yelling something. Turns out he was yelling "Bump ahead!" And it turns the bump ( a 6 inch metal joint between road and bridge) was around a blind corner to one of the bridges. I thought I hit a wall when I went over that one. Again there was a perfect opportunity to mention these road hazards at the useless mandatory meeting. I now realize why so many people were walking their bikes the final few miles of the bike course. Either flats or bent rims from the roads.
Finally, allowing over 6000 people to register and/or participate is way too many people for the course they planned out. I guess they figure they can't be as good as other local races so they have to be bigger. They need something to market to the masses?!? Too many people in the river. Constant congestion and bumping each other. Too many people on the bike course with little room to pass. And trying to find friends and family at the end was nearly impossible. Not to mention an hour wait to get back into transition after your race day ended.
I will say that the race volunteers were great. At every intersection for the bike course they were wearing bright orange vests and waving a flag to indicate a turn. Also plenty of aid on the run course.
I really wanted to like this race. I was born in DC and grew up in MD and thought it would be a good race to end the season. I love all the monuments and can never see them often enough. The logistics of the course and the sheer volume of participants will ensure that I won't do this race again. A very disappointing end to end my tri season. There is always something to learn in every race, and certainly this one was no different.
That being said, I somehow still set a PR for an Olympic distance.
Thanks for reading.