Rev3 Quassy has established itself among one of the most challenging half distance races out there. The first one was in 2009, and each year, the professional field has grown as has the overall event. It offers up a tough, hilly course that is tucked into the beautiful northeastern town of Middlebury, Connecticut. I don’t know about you, but I often get motivated by a beautiful race setting. This race starts and finishes at an Amusement Park but takes you on 56 miles of hilly, winding, lush green terrain on the bike and over 13 miles of more hills (including some gravel) on the run. It’s actually a blessing in disguise that you cannot see the run finish until you are upon it. But as a reward for finishing, you get to run down a quick short hill to the finish chute; on grass, no less…be careful your legs don’t give out on you here! Though it could make for a humorous finish shot.
The swim takes place in Lake Quassapaug, and temperatures are often on the cooler side, so expect likely a wetsuit-legal swim. Calm waters and a beautifully marked course greet you as you head down to the beach. The entire swim course is fairly visible from shore, which is always nice as an athlete to be able to see the whole course. It is a simple ‘triangle’ swim. One thing I love about this swim course is that the lake is encompassed by trees, which just makes for a really beautiful setting. I’ve raced in Canada a few times and have fond memories of crystal clear Canadian lakes; this swim is very similar. A suggestion: If the air is cool on race day (it can be warm and muggy in Middlebury or very cool and damp, so travel prepared for anything) be careful of doing a swim warm up too early, as you’ll have to stand out of the lake and likely start to shiver. Either hold off until a few minutes before your swim start, or if you do a swim warm up and exit the water, try to have some warm clothes to toss on. It is essential to warm up in some facet, just think about keeping yourself warm prior to the start if the air is cool. Also realize that if it is sunny, you may be starting at the sun the final section of the swim; so consider shaded goggles, or at least have a couple of different pairs available; I have been known to swap out clear for dark or vice versa at the very last minute!
You’ll exit the swim and head right to transition, not too far of a jog from the swim exit. Remember, start to unzip and remove the top half of your wetsuit as you run; cut down on that transition time. As you head off onto the bike, you start out down a road again surrounded by trees; you will be shaded from the sun at least early on. Suggestion: If the air is cool, you may want to toss on some arm warmers as the shade will make the air even cooler, and when you hit the hills, the descents can be chilly as well (again, assuming a cool race day; could also be humid and warmer). The bike course gets down and dirty pretty quickly. Meaning, you will hit your first climb about 5 miles in. Try to exert a bit of control as it starts out, and let your bike legs come around. There are plenty more challenging climbs that await you. The overall theme of this bike course is hills. There are also a few somewhat technical descents and turns, so be sure to stay vigilant and aware of what is going on around you at all times. Use any flatter sections or long gradual climbs to hydrate and fuel so you can focus on the roads on the descents. You may feel like the climbs never end, but by the time you hit about Mile 40-42 you are greeted with a nice descent and at that point you only have a couple more short climbs before you will wrap up the bike portion. While the bike course is very challenging, you may find it goes quicker than you think because of the constantly changing terrain. Again, be sure you take care of yourself nutritionally on the bike as you will most definitely need the fuel/energy for the tough run that lies ahead.
When you start the 13.1 mile run, you’ll actually head out for the first 3 miles on the same route that you took out on the bike; so you will know what to expect, at least for the first section. Enjoy these first few friendly miles that moderately roll downhill! You will hit a good little climb after the 3 mile mark, so dig in and try to stay on the gas here. It makes things a bit tougher in that you’ll encounter some gravel in the middle section of the run as well. Try to roll with it, watch your footing, stay on top of your fuel, and keep pushing. The interesting thing about this run is that you will do a short out and back section around Mile 5.5, so you can catch a glimpse of where your competition may be at this point. But you don’t come right back, rather you continue out in another direction to complete the entire 13-mile one loop course. You’ll hit one more short out/back section at about Mile 10.5, another chance to see people. This keeps things interesting! Expect some rolling terrain throughout and around mile 11 or so, you’ll hit another nasty uphill section that takes you almost to mile 13. Again, everyone is hurting here…try to really give it all you’ve got as the finish is just around the corner.
As with all Rev 3 races, enjoy the awesome finish chute they provide! The finish into the grass makes it feel (no pun intended) all the more like a true grassroots event; laid back and mellow. If you have family here, take time to enjoy hanging out at the Amusement Park. It’s a great family friendly atmosphere. They often have small ice baths as well, so if you hope to recover quicker, hop into one and cool off. Most of all give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done…this course is no joke, but the sense of satisfaction post-race is well worth it.
Check out the 2009 Highlight Reel!
If you’d like to read my personal experiences with 2010 and 2012 Rev 3 Quassy, check out the stories below. Quassy holds a special place to me as I was 2nd in 2010, which I consider one of my bigger ‘breakthrough’ races. Good Luck out there and savor the challenges!