It’s a new week, which means you must be tuning in to find out what we conquered (okay…suffered through) this weekend. Well, it was worth stopping by because this past Saturday and Sunday found us at one of our favorite races: Rev3 Quassy.
This year we threw folks at both their 70.3 AND Olympic distance races. Lucky for you guys, because you get a two for one special, not so lucky for us because it’s Rev3 Quassy and if you haven’t heard…it’s a brutally tough race.
Last year many of the TRAVLETE folks tackled their Half-Rev 70.3 distance triathlon and loved it. The course rocked (especially the bike) and overall we came away very impressed with how polished an event it was in just its second year. Well, this year that trend continued.
Let’s start with the Olympic. It went down on Saturday with a field of 550 athletes (dramatically up from last year’s 383) and at the risk of sounding douchey: It was dope. In fact, as someone who raced the half last year and the Olympic this year I can say that the Olympic seemed to encompass all the course highlights from the half, while avoiding the most of the pain.
The swim course was a third shorter, but followed the same general route of the half. The water was a perfect 68 degrees and relatively calm which made for a uneventful swim (that’s a good thing). In fact, the only negative thing we can say about it was that there’s a dock about 500 yards away from the swim exit that a first time Quassy racer could easily run into. Though race staff was on it directing swimmers from atop the dock, it’s worth making note that athletes are required to swim to the RIGHT of the dock on your way toward the beach (which was surprisingly free of rocks despite this being a lake swim).
Lake Quassapaug is much nicer than it sounds.
The bike included sweeping farmland vistas, suburban rollers through the Connecticut countryside and even a sweet descent through a llama farm (or alpaca, but who can tell at 45mph?). It also covered a section of the half RUN course that I like to call the “estate descent,” which took riders by homes likely belonging to people who prefer to spend their pennies on important stuff like real estate rather than race wheels. What the Olympic bike course didn’t have was the ascent at miles 23-30 which is found in the half, nor the last five miles of false flats that deflate the half racers at miles 51-56. Also notable – the road surface around miles three to four had deteriorated quite a bit over the winter resulting in large cracks. Even though it’s an uphill section, if you catch one of these you’re going down. Other than that the roads were pretty well kept and riders could race relatively worry free through the rolling hills of New England .
Biking next to a rollercoaster. Consider it a preview of the bike course. (photo: www.speedycb.com)
Finally, the run course was partially composed of the latter miles of the half course. Runners weaved through neighborhoods and wooded back roads and while battling a few significant hills, especially at mile 5 (mile 12 on the half course). We (and almost everyone we spoke to) found it enjoyable and a number of athletes commented that if there was one thing about the run to appreciate, it was the ample shade provided by the tree coverage. And perhaps it was bad timing, but we also witnessed a boneheaded Quassy employee almost stop a few athletes dead in their tracks…or maybe we should say on the tracks. See, there’s a miniature train ride that circles the expo and finish line area and it crosses over the course right before the finisher’s chute. It’s not operated on race day, but apparently one overzealous Lionel train enthusiast didn’t get the memo and tried to take his choo-choo out for a few laps. Thankfully, there were no casualties and only one athlete had to slow up while approaching the chute before race staff intervened.
Master the hills, master the run. (photo: www.speedycb.com)
As for the half, just like last year, it was nearly flawless. The only additional complaints people had about the swim were that after the first turn, it was a bit hard to see the yellow buoys with the sun in your eyes, and the swim exit was marked with an inflatable Muscle Milk arch in (a sponsor) colored chocolate brown which made it slightly hard to see. We have to blame the latter more on Muscle Milk than on Rev3 – if you’re going to insist that races you sponsor use a branded swim exit, make that exit visible. And to be honest, given the challenge that is Quassy, athletes are going to consume whatever “flavor” you throw at them post-race.
The half bike course was the same as in 2010, with the tedious climb at miles 23-30, and the endless rollers from mile 2 through 17. For what it’s worth, Lauren did the HalfREV both this year and last, and she swears the bike course seemed harder than she had remembered it. “I don’t understand how there’s 3 times as much uphill as there is downhill. Doesn’t that break some kind of law of physics?“
The half run course is still hard, hilly, beautiful and hilly. The hills are all manageable, but you have to come mentally prepared. For the first 8 miles of the run, expect that when you’re running up a road that curves, there will be more hill around the curve. Anyone who manages to run the hills on this course will pass plenty of walkers. The aid stations on the half course are still plentiful, well stocked and manned by incredibly friendly volunteers (and one extremely enthusiastic kangaroo). It’s pretty much all you could want in a half run course.
And of course this wouldn’t be Rev3 without talking about the atmosphere, something the folks behind Rev3 take great pride in. Quassy isn’t Disney and it doesn’t try to be. It’s old and quaint, but also charming. It’s one of those places that you visit as a kid with your summer camp friends, but not for the rides. You visit because of the laid back vibe, the picnic areas and the swims in the lake. You (or rather your spectators) won’t encounter 90 minute lines for a ride, but rather carnival style attractions and games.
Matty Reed post race. Guess who gave who swim tips…
On the athlete side, Rev3 provides you with all the perks you might expect from the bigger brands, but on a more intimate scale. Racers get individually named spots in transition and body marking is now done via temporary tattoos. You’ll also grab some better than decent schwag, your name announced as you finish, and free post-race grub to enjoy while waiting for your turn at the massage tent.
All the other stuff was easy as pie. Packet pickup, transition, parking, all a breeze. We also stayed at the nearby Heritage Hotel in Southbury, which was a steal at $119 per night. We even ran into World Champion Mirinda Carfrae, and if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for us! Lauren stayed at the Crown Plaza, which is even closer than the Heritage and was also $119 per night. Although there were no exciting pro sightings, they let her keep the room until she finished the race and was able to get back to shower.
Overall, we’ve spent the last year eagerly anticipating, and partially fearing, the return of Rev3 Quassy and we weren’t disappointed. These guys know how to put together a race and it shows, so let’s hope they can keep up the pace. Here’s our breakdown for both races:
Course: A All three legs were awesome, but at Quassy it’s all about the bike. The Olympic takes all the best parts from the half and crams them into a small (yet still challenging) package.
Organization: A Spastic train conductors aside, this is a well-oiled machine. The expo, after party, and even online tracking were top notch.
Atmosphere: A Larger fields lead to larger crowds. Folks in the community also seemed to welcome the event more this year than last and the stacked pro field was also a sight to see, let alone race next to.
Logistics: A Under two hours from NYC and less than an hour from Hartford. And for the price, the Heritage and Crown Plaza hotels (with their free shuttles) were a bargain.
Overall: A A stellar and fun event. So fun in fact, that one question was hotly debated during our ride home. That question: Will we have enough left in the tank for their Cedar Point race in September?