USA Triathlon Nationals Olympic Distance Course Preview, Milwaukee
Nationals, as you’d hope and expect, is a pretty well organized affair. You will be corralled into an area with everyone else in your age group. Then you’re let into the water some minutes before your start time. Everyone has to hold onto the dock and I don’t think there's a huge advant
age in being to the left of the right. What I would try to find is something you can put your foot on to push off at the start. That will be your biggest advantage. It’s Nationals and the waves are quite big so you have to be prepared to be swimming with some company. Despite the amount of people around I wouldn’t say it’s the easiest course to navigate. I wish I’d studied the map a bit more and had it more solidly in my head. I don’t think I went wrong particularly but if I’d studied the shape of the course a little more I might have approached it with a bit more confidence. Some of the course is hidden behind bridges and banks so you can’t see where you’re going necessarily from the start like you can in some triathlons.
The last 400m is pretty easy to navigate as the bank is on your left and the buoys are easy to see as is the swim exit. After pulling yourself out of the water it’s a short jog to a big transition area on the carpet and grass. Most importantly you want to have a good idea where your bike is. Use flags or what not on the edge of the transition area to orient yourself. It’s a nice grassy surface so there’s no excuse not to keep your shoes on your pedals and run barefoot through transition. I clocked 2.5 mins for T1 so it’s a pretty standard transition time.
The bike course is pretty straightforward and easy. It’s wide and what’s really nice is there are plenty of draft busters out there to keep it fair. Sadly, somewhat of a rarity in local events these days. There’s a couple of “climbs” up and down the main bridge and at the other at the northern turn around but they are just a nice break from your aero position. Other than that it’s pretty flat. There are some turns but nothing too gnarly. It did feel long for me personally but that may be because I rode 60 miles the day before with a pack from Michigan on to catch the ferry. Don’t recommend it physiologically speaking. I didn’t feel like I lost much from not previewing the course.
T2 is equally straightforward. The run course is well marked. The first part is nice as you get a nice breeze off the lake. It seems harder when you move inland. It was overcast the year I did it but the humidity kind of sneaks up on you. I didn’t really feel wiped until the last 2K (see photo for evidence of that). Otherwise it’s fairly flat, a few turns in the first few Ks to keep it interesting, but all paved and aside the humidity there are no difficulties to speak of. Plenty of switchbacks to check out your competition! While the final 4K is boring and painful you have a nice National finishers medal waiting for you at the end.