Monday, July 25, 2016

Why Was the NYC Triathlon Run Shortened from a 10K to an 8K run?

I was watching the local news last night (well fine I was listening to the local news in the background because I still hadn't turned off the television from the celebrity golf tournament we were watching that had just concluded) and one of the lead stories was about the heat wave in New York City and the shortening of the New York City Triathlon as a result.

While it made for a great headline to add to the New York heat wave stories, I had to wonder a bit what exactly the purpose of shortening the run leg of the triathlon from a 10K to an 8K (about a  1.25 mile difference) would have in promoting safety. An Olympic distance triathlon is a 1.5 KM swim, followed by a 40K bike, and ending with a 10K run. In other words, cutting out just 2K of the run doesn't really make the race much shorter. Cutting the swim or the bike portion of the event surely would have posed a logistical challenge since it required reaching and returning bikes to the transition zone and also the run portion of the triathlon (aside from being latest in the day) is where an athlete is likely most exposed to heat away from the cooler water and the breeze on the bike.

So I get it if some portion of the event was going to be cut down it was the run, but by cutting down just the run portion and by a small amount, it seemed rather pointless and arbitrary from an actual safety perspective. This led me to the conclusion that cutting 2K out of the event really just served as a warning to competitors that the day was not one to try to post a fast time. Furthermore, cutting the distance of the event by trivial amount took away anyone's desire to set a PR or a time that they would stand by and remember since the time was for a completely unknown and meaningless distance.

That's really the only reason I can come up with as to how shortening yesterday's tri by 2 kilometers in the run portion only really could have helped make the event safer from the heat for anyone involved.

Do you think it was the right decision? Fair to the competitors? That the change had the seemingly intended affect of slowing the race down by just making it more of a fun run/tri? Was it a better solution than just making it an untimed event? Are running/triathlon organizations becoming too much of a nanny state and not letting athletes make their own decisions about their safety? All questions that we might consider, particularly with such a wide range of athletes of different abilities partaking in endurance events these days.