Super League Triathlon has taken the triathlon world by storm! A great mix up on the Swim-bike-run format that leads to more excitement and better viewing both in person and on TV. The format is great for a pro race, but how can local race directors harness this same experience for age groupers?
The Special Sauce
The main ingredient that generates all the excitement the “special sauce” so to speak- is the multi-day, multi-stage, race within a race format.
A local RD needs to start there. A simple stage format would be awesome for a local race! Start with a Friday, Saturday, Sunday layout. Go with a simple sprint triathlon on Friday night. Anyone can participate. Many will do the Friday night sprint and not participate in the other days of racing. This is actually great for a few reasons.
1. More “easy revenue” to make the race as a whole stay afloat
2. Those Friday only participants may stick around to be fans on Saturday and Sunday
3. It allows a qualification race to set the stage, groups, etc. for the following stages
Keep it simple
In these early beginning of a new format, simplicity is key. I would stay away from a points format simply because an age grouper wants to know if he won as soon as he crosses the finish line. The final day of racing has got to be a pursuit style. That means that whatever you do on the second day, you need to let the athletes start the final race in the order and at the interval that they need to overcome to win. The order they cross the finish line is the final finishing placing
Mix it up
One of the great things about super league is the triple mix format. Start Saturday with swim-bike-run, then do a bike-run-swim, then finish with a run-swim-bike. The order doesn’t matter. What matters is it’s not a traditional triathlon. Another option is to go time trial style like the Island House Triathlon and have the second day be 3 individual time trials. Cumulative time overall wins.
A word of caution here is to not make the second day pursuit style. That is needed for the final race (see above) but it could either be discouraging for the racers, or it could be logistically challenging for the organizers.
Keep the competition separate
This is going to be the biggest obstacle to making this work at the age group level. You don’t want to have other racers on course confusing things. I would suggest doing waves that complete a whole race before going to the next wave. Either create your own groups based off of the Friday sprint qualifiers, or combine age groups and keep them separate through each stage.
A simple bracket format with only the top 20-30 completing on the final day would work too. This all depends on the number of registrants and your area, but please, please, please make this clear to the athletes ahead of time (at least a week out). There is nothing more frustrating than a tournament organizer doing things on the fly!
There is definitely a lot of potential in this area of new, exciting formats for triathlon. This is the perfect time for a local RD to get a plan together and promote a neat race for age groupers in 2018! I would love to see races like this pop up all over the country and get a new and exciting flare in the Multisport community and give people more to work towards beside going longer distances. Pushing the envelope is awesome, but pushing it in different directions is even better.
Do you have any ideas for a neat race format? Let me know in the comment or on twitter! I’d love to discuss them?
Are you a race director and want to put something like this on in your area? I’d be glad to lend a hand or even just a brain to help work through ideas! Use the contact form, hit me up on twitter, or email me directly!