What to look for in a pre-race site visit

Gearing up for a big race? Have the chance to check out the course ahead of time? Here's what you should look for during a pre-race recce.

| May 25, 2018 | TRAINING

Photo >James Mitchell

Today I checked out the race course for Ironman 70.3 Kraichgau. Here's what I look for when I do a course tour to check things out: 

Swim:

  • Are there landmarks that can help you site? Mountain peaks, buildings, tall trees, etc.?
  • How is the visibility under the water?
  • How far into the swim is the first buoy?

Bike:

  • The profile of the course (amount of climbing and descending) is important for pacing.
  • How is the road surface? Rough or smooth? Do I need to use different tires?
  • Are there corners where I might have to worry about loose gravel or sand? (That will usually be cleaned up by the race organizers on race morning, but it's worth checking.)
  • Are there any corners that are trickier than they seem? 
  • Where do I have to get out of the aero position? Which corners can I take on my aero bars?
  • Which direction does the wind typically come from? Where should I be prepared for gusts or headwinds?

Run:

  • Again, what is the course profile?
  • Where are the spots with tricky footing? 
  • What is the surface - gravel, pavement, concrete?
  • What are the best lines to take along the road? 
  • What shoes should I wear?
  • Is there a turnaround where I will be able to see the competition?

In addition to those specific areas, I try to get a feel for the entire route and decide what are the most critical areas where the race is likely to be decided.