ITU WTS San Diego Course Secrets

USAT’s national events director shares tips to dominate the course.

Photo: Rich Cruse

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USAT’s national events director shares tips to dominate the course.

The scenic Mission Bay course of the ITU World Triathlon San Diego was the site of some dramatic racing in 2012. For the second year, you can experience the same course the elites will be racing, as well as the same elite experience (think grandstands and Jumbotron). The bike course, new for 2013, will also take you on Fiesta Island, site of the first tri in 1974.

USA Triathlon’s national events director, Jeff Dyrek, who had a hand in bringing the ITU race to San Diego and designing the course, shares some insider advice for tackling the Olympic- and sprint-distance races, which 3,000 age-groupers are expected to race on April 20.

PHOTOS: 2012 ITU World Triathlon Series – Men’s Race

1. Bring a wetsuit. “People probably anticipate Southern California to have warm water and great weather,” says Dyrek. But the water temperature in the protected Ventura Cove swim at last year’s race was a brisk 64 degrees.

2. Familiarize yourself with the new bike course. An all-new bike course now takes athletes east toward Sea World and Fiesta Island rather than north toward La Jolla. “A lot of [the reason for the change] was based on feedback from athletes,” Dyrek says. “We wanted to make sure to give athletes better riding surfaces.” The course includes a new twist: Awards will be given to the winners of the “Fiesta Island Challenge,” those who record the fastest time for the 4.2-mile bike loop around the island.

3. Prepare for a fast but technical bike. The two-lap Olympic bike course features five 180-degree turns as well as a few long straightaways. A mile and a half into the bike course, there’s a U-turn, followed by a 3-mile stretch where athletes can “get down on their bars and really hammer it out” until the turnaround on East Mission Bay Drive. On Fiesta Island, athletes can build up speed before a U-turn near transition and the second lap. If it happens to be a rainy day, Dyrek says the course will still be safe for fast racing since none of the sharp turns follow steep descents.

4. Remember the sunscreen. For the run, Dyrek predicts ideal racing temperatures, but at the time of day, there will be little protection from the sun. He estimates 80 percent of the run course is along the water, so while it’s extremely flat, there’s little to no shade from trees or buildings.

5. Soak it in. The two-lap Olympic run course follows the bay around Bonita Cove, Mariners Basin and onto the Mission Beach boardwalk, with water views almost the whole way. “Take advantage of the scenery!” he says.

PHOTOS: 2012 ITU World Triathlon Series San Diego – Women’s Race

Visit for more. The professional women will race on Friday, April 19 at 3:30 p.m. PDT. The professional men will compete on Saturday, April 20 at 4 p.m. PDT. Both races will be televised live on Universal Sports.

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