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Rev’ed Up For Rev3: A Course Preview

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One of the downhill portions of the course. Photo: courtesy of Rev3
One of the downhill portions of the course. Photo: courtesy of Rev3

We chatted with Rev3’s race marketing director, pro triathlete Heather Gollnick, on why Sunday’s debut will make for an arduous day—and will, by virtue, see no land speed records despite the deep field.

The Revolution3 Triathlon course in Middlebury, Conn. will reflect what pro triathlete Heather Gollnick and husband Todd believe a triathlon course should be. There is nothing about this course that would be described as “pancake flat”. Out goes the high likelihood for drafting. This course is unique: it is a rolling, climbing, descending course that will weed out the weak and expose those who haven’t put in their training miles.

Yet for whatever suffering the athletes put themselves through, it will be worth the unique experience this race provides. The course includes a lit-up finishers arch that reminds of Vegas signage, giant swim buoys and a smooth, safe bike and run course.

But no, they’re not taking out the hills. If you haven’t been doing your hill repeats in training… well, good luck.

“We had a few folks call us and say ‘hey, I’m just getting into triathlon and want to make this my first one,” and I had to be honest and say ‘yeah, this might not be the best first triathlon for you.’ It’s gonna be a good challenge for everyone,” said Heather Gollnick, the race marketing director. “My husband and I love this area for how hilly it is.”

The only thing they can guarantee is that the swim will be flat. Held in semi-private Lake Quassapaug, the swim will be an inverted triangle course run in a clockwise fashion, and is typically calm without much wind-chop, due to the amount of surrounding foliage knocking down potential gusts. Athletes will land on the beach at the lake’s southern end and head to transition through the amusement park.

The bike is where the beatings begin. It’s not that there are any steep ascents, it’s just that the race is a constant, rolling event; after working a climb, you have to work the descent to get ready for the next climb. Passing through Middlebury, the course heads north and over Thomaston Dam. It then heads through Black Rock State Park and north for several miles before heading south for a return to T2.

While the bike course is predominantly rolling, there is one steady climb at about mile 23, with athletes moving from and elevation of about 530ft to about 1,100ft in the span of five miles, with the steepest pitches coming at mile 26. The latter part of the course is net descending, so be prepared for climbing right out of the gate.

At the very least, the course is one of the most scenic in the nation. The roads are fairly smooth, and the entire course is beset by green on all sides, from open fields to massive stands of spruce and oak trees. It’s these trees that may keep things cool for athletes on both the bike and run if temps warm up Sunday.

Once into T2 and donning race flats, athletes will head out on a run that will consist of a wide, curving out-and-back arc around Lake Quassapaug. The steepest ascent will come at mile three and a half to mile four and a half (and consequently the steepest descent at mile six to seven on the return trip) with a gradient of about five percent.

The closing miles actually loop past near the Timex National Headquarters in Middlebury before circling for the big finish. Again, the course has nary a flat spot, so those who have been doing hill work in their training will be rewarded.

“This is what triathlon is supposed to be about—challenging yourself,” Gollnick says. “Revolution3 speaks to the fact that we want to revolutionize the way things are done with a race, and beyond delivering a great product to the athlete, having a challenging course is part of that.”

The field was capped at just above 800 athletes. While Friday was grey and rainy as the expo opened, the weather for Sunday’s race day is predicted to be fairly idyllic: partly cloudy and 78 degrees.

Stay tuned for live streaming video coverage of the Revolution3 Triathlon Sunday, at Triathlon.competitor.com/rev3. The first pro wave goes off at 6:55 a.m. locally. We will have a comprehensive post-race report and photo gallery following the race.

Click here for live coverage of the Rev 3 Triathlon on Sunday, June 7.