This race is always a suffer fest for me. It's the first race of season after resting from the previous season's injuries. I usually try to work on my swimming over the winter, so the fact that I haven't been running or biking is made apparent during a duathlon. This was my 7th Powerman Alabama. This year it was nice to do the race with Kevin O'Connor, who is my friend, boss, and sponsor all rolled into one. He was in the same training situation as I - ready to get sore. Kevin wrote a great race report for Minnesota Tri News, so I'm not going to reinvent the wheel.
Kevin's race report
Let me start by saying that the race is one of the "must do" races. It is very challenging but not over the top hard. Team Magic does a first rate job of race production and it was clear that everyone was enjoying themselves. The 10k, 60k, 10k course is completely in the confines of Oakwood State Park. The run course is like shaped like a upper case letter "Y". You run out to the right and turn around at about mile 2 and then run towards the second turnaround. The race organizers wanted to make certain the race lived up to it's name of Powerman so they changed the run course from previous years. The second spur of the run lets you start a one mile climb up the side of the large hill on the one lane road through the state forest. The turn around is at the top of the hill (4 mile mark) and you get to run down the 10% towards the run finish. The bike leg is an out and back 20K route which you ride 3 times. Perfect asphalt (not a single pothole), virtually no vehicle traffic, and never ending rolling hills including two big hills in each direction. The route is challenging but time passed quickly with multiple passes on the course. It also gave spectators another opportunity to see the athletes 2 extra times. The bike route was as spectacular as the run route. As for the race itself it was USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championships and it was well deserving for such a challenging course. David Thompson and I traveled down together and with our similar, simple traveling style it was relaxing for both. David finished 3rd pro and was typically positive following the race. Most satisfying for him was the fact that his knee didn't bother him at all. For the past 3 seasons he has had to be careful with his training and racing due to a knee injury that was initially brought on by an undiagnosed hernia. His knee is now hypersensitive to overuse. David took some serious time off from cycling this winter and is in the early stages of getting back in shape. He headed down simply to get in a good workout and get the first race of the season in the books. After the race he had nothing but positive things to say about Ryan Guillano's winning performance. Ryan went faster than Jorie's course record and Ryan did it on a much harder run course. Derick Treadwell was second and with 4th place far behind David he cruised in without having to turn himself inside out to hold his place. For my race I was hoping to reverse the 1-2 position with Dave Slavinsky of New Jersey from Short Course Du Nationals last year. Dave was the 2010 USAT Duathlete of the Year and he outraced me at Nationals. We both turn 40 years of age this year so we got to race head to head still. The other master there to race was Steve Dupree of Colorado. Steve is a former pro duathlete that now at age 44 races in the amateur ranks for the second season. I was hoping to make it a real race with Dave but no such luck. As Dupree took off on from the gun, Dave started chatting with me for the first 3 miles as I pushed to run the 5:40 pace. Dave is quite friendly, very nice, and even faster than he is nice. As we started the 1 mile climb he held his pace and cut the distance to Dupree in half by the time we finished opening run. On the bike I was hoping to close some of the gap to him and reel in Dupree. No such luck. I was able to start the second run just 20 seconds behind Dupree but Dave blew the two of us away on the bike. What was most impressive is the fact that he ran the second 10K faster than his opening 10K(exact same route both runs). He ran 35:04 putting him 45 seconds faster than the second fastest run by overall pro winner Ryan Guilliano. His time put him in 2nd place overall, first amateur by 3+ minutes, and Long Course National Champion. It was also complete validation that he is the best amateur duathlete in the country and his 2010 award was well deserved. The race was so enjoyable on so many levels. Great Venue, well organized, relaxing but professional atmosphere, and a race that leaves you with complete satisfaction when you cross the finish line. And although I am having some real trouble walking downstairs I want to head back just to tackle the race again. Of the 200+ races I have completed, Powerman Alabama is at the top of my list with just a couple others.
Side note on Ryan Guilliano, he went 22 minutes faster total this year that he did last year and 12 minutes faster on the bike. What's more impressive is that the run course was tougher this year.