Winter is starting to thaw and soon many athletes’ training plans will transition from base, to build as they get closer to race day at Quassy.

Quassy has become a special race for us and the athletes who take part in the annual pilgrimage to Middlebury, Connecticut. This is not only because it was the first ever Rev3 race, but also because of the unique course that challenges every athlete that crosses the starting line. Trust me, we’ve heard all lines like “What? You couldn’t figure out how to add any hills into the swim course?”

Whether this is your first or fourth attack on the Quassy course for either the Olympic of Half REV distance, here are some pointers to help yourself get mentally and physically ready come race day.

The Swim

  • The one loop swim in Lake Quassapaug tends to be unusually warm for Connecticut in early June, but expect for the swim to be wetsuit-legal for age groupers.
  • The water is very clear and makes it easy for chasing bubbles and staying on the feet of faster swimmers to conserve energy.
  • On race morning, pay attention to trees, banners and other easily identifiable landmarks by the swim exit. They will be important for sighting on the home stretch and staying on course.
  • A quick entry into T1 while conserving energy is key. Whether you are doing the half or the oly, you’ve got some challenging miles ahead of you.

The Bike

  • Exiting transition, you have a short (100 yards) down the flat driveway out of the park. You’ll take a sharp left onto the main road and head up a short hill. Make sure you leave your bike in an easy gear in transition so it is easy to get situated and you aren’t struggling with shifting right off the bat.
  • The course immediately hits you with some short climbs that will have you out of the saddle as well as descents that can easily bring you north of 40mph. Don’t expect to have much time to settle in and get comfortable on the bike while cruising on flat roads.
  • Don’t wait for flat straightaways to hammer the pedals or take in nutrition. You won’t find them on this course. Make sure you are comfortable taking in nutrition on rolling terrain.
  • None of the climbs are extremely long, but they can be steep and are a constant along the course. Keeping an even power output throughout the climb and building momentum back up even AFTER you crest the hill are critical.
  • While the course will be well marked and have marshals directing traffic at all main intersections, pay attention to signs, cars and other athletes especially on the faster descents. Your time will be much faster (and you’ll be much happier) if you keep the rubber side of your bike down.
  • You’ll enter transition the way you left, with a short downhill and sharp left turn back into the park.

The Run

  • The first mile of the course is relatively flat or slightly downhill.
  • If you are racing in the half, the first 3.5 miles are slightly down hill.  At about mile 3.5, you hit a 1 mile climb that seems to go for ever!
  • After that, expect pretty much constant rolling hills from here on out.
  • On the uphills, make sure you take short, quick efficient strides and keep your momentum as you crest the top.
  • Late in the race, the hills can be as mentally draining as physically draining. Dig deep and keep your head straight all the way to the finish line.
  • On both the half and olympic run course, one of the biggest hills is within the last half mile. Don’t let it surprise you, but about three quarters of the way up, you can hear the music and crowd at the finish line to boost your spirits and bring you home.

While very challenging, the Quassy course is equally rewarding. Especially as you enter the finishing chute, lined with cheering spectators, with your loved ones running with you and look up to see your picture on the big screen as you cross the line. Everyone has different personal obstacles that they must overcome to cross the finish line at Quassy, but every finisher has earned the privilege of being able to say they’ve finished one of the most challenging courses in the United States.

Preview was provided by Jaime Bull.
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