domingo, 15 de noviembre de 2009
Got Drafting? you better don't...
If you follow triathlon you know how controversial drafting issues have become during triathlon events. If you don’t, let me tell you, is nasty. If you participate in triathlon you may be familiar with the Non-Drafting format, which is mandatory in every triathlon in America and many around the world. Mainly the ITU [International Triathlon Union] allows for this practice (drafting) during events which changes the whole dynamic of TRI-athlon. Not swimming, cycling or running by itself.
What is Drafting:
If you didn’t knew before, drafting means to swim, ride or run directly behind or parallel to another subject. By drafting you try to use the other rider as a SHADE to avoid many elements but mainly the wind, which is the MAIN resistance force we face in triathlon. In non-drafting competition you cannot do this during the bike, but you can certainly swim the whole way or run by that effect, directly behind someone “even touching him” and not be penalized. WHY? I don’t know , the only reason that comes to mind is the difficulty is trying to sight kept an established distance /margin while you swim, almost impossible. On the other side, you can for sure establish a non drafting running policy and possibly have good support from triathletes because this would have little effect on the outcome of the race.
Why is Drafting important:
By using someone as a shade from natural elements or DRAFT, you can save energy, lots of energy, many have report up to a 30% of difference in the energy level between drafting or pushing the whole bike leg. I remember a pro ITU athlete reporting a radical heart rate drop [120bpm or something like that] during draft legal events which allows them to RELAX while in the pack and feeling fresh going into the run. So, mainly drafting represents a benefit for everybody who competes in triathlon, to complete one of the legs with relatively ease and have more energy for the rest of the event. The problem is born when by allowing drafting you ELIMINATE someone’s strength(cyclist) in the event and put other (runners) in the driver seat. Still don’t understand? Lets say I’m a great cyclist Like Normann Staddler and my strategy for the race is to push hard on the bike to create a gap that allows me to run my pace (weakest event) and still have a shot for the win. By doing that I’m trying to force my competitors someone like Chris McCormack to use more energy during the bike trying to keep contact with me and with that reduce or take away some of their strength (their biggest weapon). Done with the pro’s now you say, Why is this important for the age-groupers? Because the time you are finishing with is NOT REAL, you didn’t “ride” the distance, you draft it and possibly coast it which is only allow if you are part of the ITU and represent your country.
Reports have been raining out of the last couple of events organized by WTC or the Ironman and 70.3 series. There is actually a video of bunch of people riding together during Ironman Florida without being penalized. Most recently the 70.3 world championships in Clearwater proved to be a drafting destination for triathletes even with some last minute changes in the starting format , from a mass start to a staggered one. People STILL drafted and the race one again came up to a runners race, completely trashing dreams of good bikers who wanted a clean and fair race to have a shot at the win. I was in shock during the broadcast, How in the world if I’m watching a non drafting event there is a PACK of 15-20 guys entering T2 together? Reading another blog, I came across a PRO who was in the race and mentions, seeing packs of about 80 people and riding ORGANIZED even making rotations and taking turns at the front. But we know there have been drafting issues since wayyyyy before now and have been ignored but not now. Why? Because now it is NASTY.
I race in Puerto Rico where drafting is ALLOWED in the majority of races [don’t even ask me why] and have also raced in the states with a non-drafting format. I personally don’t even care if you draft or not, not because I think is fair is because I don’t think you can control it. Hilly courses? I’ve been there done that and people still are able to draft there, staggered start? 70.3 @ Clearwater proved that doesn’t work, a 10 meter zone? You just can’t marshal 2000 athletes effectively. So what can be done? Can drafting be stopped?
I have an Idea which I think is possible and “could” alleviate the problem. I was thinking about a digital chip or transmitter, just like the one used in cycling or running, attached to every bike which sounds or beeps whenever you trespass the draft zone by sensing the others bike chip. Whenever you violate the rule and spent extra time drafting that chip also gets identified by the computer and you can penalized digitally the participant by adding time to his/her finishing time. If you have a better solution for the drafting problem please leave a comment to this post or email me. I hope I’d updated you on drafting , and watch out, I know you are drafting and WE are going to bust you up…