OK folks, it is exciting to be racing again. The Pacific Northwest is the most scenic region in our beautiful country, but I am clearly biased!
IM70.3Oregon is an inaugural race. You will be the first to grace that beautiful course and leave your legacy here, but race it smart and race it hard . Let me help you understand this course from top to bottom. Additionally, for those who have a coach, please stick to your coach’s race strategy from top to bottom . Others, you are welcome to ask and I am happy to help. Let’s get to it:
Before I start, I want to give a shout out and a ton of gratitude to my friend John Gonzalez @trijunkie1 for helping me prepare this pre-race construct.
The course swim profile:
The good news first: a couple of good news, actually:
The water temperature this weekend was in the 60s! This is coming from my friend John Gonzalez who did the swim today. So there’s a pretty good possibility that this will definitely be wet suit legal race.✅
Now to the second good news: the Willamette river is incredibly fast and you will most likely have your fastest swim ever . It can easily help your swim 30 to 46 seconds per 100, so yes, you will have a faster swim . You may actually have a 20 or 25 min swim. Truly! ✅✅
However, let’s get to the tough areas in your swim: Chop! There is a section in the river, right after you start, on the side of one of the river banks, where the current hits the bank and it comes back. If you are unaware of this area you will be surprised by the rip current, and you may swallow water and you may get a little uncomfortable. The idea is to breathe to the other side, folks. That’s why as coaches we always insist on bilateral breathing! 😂😂
The 1.2 mile walk to the Swim Start is actually very pleasant and it is over the bridge and on paved trails so not as dusty or muddy, so no worries about your pretty toe nail color being muddies up, folks 😂
Bring disposable flip flops that you may want to discard upon entering the river.
Transition : Luckily, T1 and T2 are in the same area, so a gentle, calm run from your swim to your bike after the swim is always recommended . Do not sprint to your bike. Reserve that energy for your PR performance! Calmly take off your wetsuit, put on your helmet, glasses , shoes , grab your bike and gently run with it the the designated Bike-Out area and you are off.
The bike course physical profile :
All in all , this is perhaps the fastest bike course in IM circuit. With a posted elevation gain of 1,149 feet. Stick to the basics and you will PR this race : However, here’s how to use your riding skills and tactics to truly conquer this course :
Mile 1, a slight uphill
The 1st mile is going to be slightly uphill as you would climb an estimated 50 feet within 1 mile off T1 into Commerical Street to Mission Street turn. a very gradual climb for awhile. It’s not too steep. Remember, the surge at the start will wake your muscles up and elevate your HR but not to worry, it’s a very brief gradual climb. How to ride it:
Advanced riders : Stay on big front chainring but make sure you find a quick cadence and drop to lower gears as you climb.
Newer riders : Start with a small front chainring, once you get to the top (after about a mile, then shift to your big front chainring. I recommend you stay in lower gears and pickup higher cadence instead of heavier gears this early in the race .
You will go fast in a downhill till your next little climb at mile 4 which is another 50 to 80 feet of a short pitchy climb:
How to ride it:
Advanced riders: Trust me, with a steep pitch like this, you would rather move to a small front chainring and keep your power output steady . Don’t burn too many matches over this short hill .
Newer riders: stick to my advice above for this hill . It will challenge you but you will be able to do it if you keep a high cadence and stay in smaller gear.
Miles 5 to mile 10 you will have 5 miles of rollers that’s trending onto a slight gradual climb but you will not find it extremely challenging. Use momentum and speed to climb these and make sure to keep your power output under control. The race is still very early.
these fast and flat . Enjoy your biggest guns and you can now attack the course in your aero position if you ride aero. This is the flattest segment of this course .
Miles 14- 15
This is your biggest short challenge, but don’t worry, it’s brief only 150 to 160 feet of elevation inside a half mile distance.
How to climb it ;
Advanced : Stick to small front chainring and keep your cadence nice and smooth and as high as you can . Keep your power output steady and keep churning. It will be over quick and you are gone .
Newer riders: Dig deep . Keep the cadence as high as you can and use small and light gears in the back. Don’t immediately go to your lightest gear . Keep a gear or two as a reserve for emergency when you really need them .
Once on top, you will make the speed when you fly downhill for another mile and you will climb another 100 feet at mile 15.
Miles 16 - 25
These are mostly downhill with a few rollers. Make sure you take advantage of the downhill by using your big gears to gather a good speed and keep it nice and fast.
Miles 25 - 28
You will encounter a slight steady elevation with a couple of rollers ;
How to ride this ;
Advanced and newer riders : You can stay in your big gear to pick up speed and momentum on the rollers till your turn around point .
The return trip miles 28-56
Coming back will be faster because you will go downhill from your last gradual climb , plus you don’t have to climb that short snd nasty hill at mile 14! Instead, you will fly down that little sucker and burn some rubber to bring it home faster than your first 28 miles.
The run course profile:
Let’s just say all in all, this run course is as flat as they come . The overall picture is , it’s a mixed bag of paved road run (asphalt), and it has about 4 to 5 miles of gravel running inside the Minto Brown Park, so make sure your foot wear is ready for traction yet not too bulky you can’t move on road !
Your biggest challenge will be a slight climb by the end of mile 1 culminating in a total climb of approximately 50 feet in a span of half a mile, folks.That’s your toughest climb, folks ! It’s a very pleasant run, most of it done inside Minto Brown Island Park with beautifully paved trails , and an incredibly scenic Pacific Northwest flavor ! I added some photos to show you the two types of trails you maybe running on, some are gravel, others are paved. There’s ton of shade in this run , and a few elevation changes that cannot be classified as hills. You would love this run, and I predict you will have your fastest IM70.3 PR to date . Good luck and see you on the course.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are completely private and personal and attributed to Marques Garcia, and not endorsed nor do they represent an official view of IROMAN , USATriathlon, or World Triathlon Corporation .