The Zofingen ITU Powerman Long Distance Duathlon World Championships is the most famous and toughest duathlon in the world, established in 1989. The Powerman Zofingen is to duathletes what the Ironman Hawaii is for triathletes. The goal of just about every duathlete is to compete in the city of Thut (Zofingen) at least once in their lifetime to run 10km (6.21mi), bike 150km (93.21mi), run 30km (18.64mi).
This duathlon event has been taking place in the heart of the Swiss Alps for thirty years. The 2018 race also marked the tenth time this event has been selected as the stage for the ITU World Championships.
The character of the race remains unchanged in its thirty-year existence -- long, hard and unique in terrain. Athletes first tackle the 10km run through the streets and forests that surround the town before heading off on a hilly bike section that stretches out the field. From there, the final grueling 30km run is again on a mix of cobblestone, packed dirt, and road that sees the athletes to the finish.
Steve was sensational at the ITU Word Championship race! Finishing in 4th place with an impressive time of 8:51:46 which landed him just off the podium and #1 finisher for USA. His run splits were brilliant, with a first 6.2 mile run at a 7:07 min/mile pace. Then after 93 grueling miles on the bike, he ran a 7:58 min/mile pace for the final 18.6 mile run. Amazing!
Steve's race day nutrition plan went without fail. He felt great the entire race with plenty of energy and no stomach issues. Total number of calories burned during the race were 4,500 kcal while calories consumed were 1,588 kcal. This calculates to ~33% intake per hour which was right within his targeted range.
How did he do it?
In late March of this year, Steve came to the InsideOut lab and preformed bike to run metabolic assessments. The goal with this type of testing is to target race day intensities in each discipline in order to obtain fueling intake ranges. The body can only utilize, at the most, 35% of calories ingested during racing so additional intake is not ideal and can lead to gastrointestinal distress. As well, these additional calories divert blood flow away from other key functions such as cooling the body and the working muscles. The goal is to have sufficient calories to fuel race day intensities but not in excess which may thwart a successful race result.
Based on these metabolic assessment results Steve was then able to begin practicing his race day fueling during training sessions. He would target heart rates based on his intensities for both run and bike and use these numbers to establish his fueling plan. These ranges are 10 - 30% intake per hour and Steve would focus on 30% intake.
Next up, Tomasi scheduled an early season race.
This race would serve not only as a benchmark for his endurance fitness but also as additional practice for his nutrition strategy. The targeted race was the epic American Zofingen duathlon held in May. This race venue is set in the Shawangunk Mountains in New Paltz, New York and was designed to simulate the Powerman Zofingen course. Perfect!
Although the American Zofingen course is a bit shorter, the hills are steeper on both run and bike courses (5 mile run, 84 mile bike, 15 mile run). His finish time for this race was a stunning 9:41:50 in which he won his age group 60-64. Impressive early season race result! Steve commented after the race that he added in additional fuel mid run on the final run leg as his pace started to drop. Consensus was that the fatigue was physical rather than nutritional.
Based on this race, Steve now had current heart rate range intensities. He was then able to compare these up-to-date heart rate numbers with his metabolic report intakes and fine tune his nutrition strategy.
In order to further illuminate how Steve used his metabolic assessment report to guide his race day fueling intake, see below the two pages of his complete report that illustrate this data. A full report includes metabolic efficiency point, targeted fat-burning, as well as nutrition recommendations based on the clients current daily nutrition but for this example, the focus is on these two graphs only.
10-30% Intake Ranges:
Assessment - Bike
Client: Steve Tomasi
Date: Mar 20, 2018
Age: 60 years
Range of total calories that may be consumed for moderate aerobic sessions longer than 2 hours or high intensity sessions. Bottom numbers represent 10% of total calories burned while top numbers represent 30%.
The page above shows Steve's total calorie intake percentages on the bike. Because Steve prefers to use a mix of calories, versus carbohydrates only, while on the bike this is the data he references.
Heart rate average target based on Steve's recent race would be the 137 bpm range at 30% intake (column 4 from the left) per hour. The calculation is then 226 kcal per hour. At ITU Worlds Steve was on the bike for 5hrs and 30min and his actual intake was 1291 total calories. Based on his 30% intake, his target was 1243 calories -- he exceeded this by only 48 calories.
Assessment - Run
Client: Steve Tomasi
Date: Mar 20, 2018
Age: 60 years
Range of total calories from carbohydrates that may be consumed for moderate aerobic sessions longer than 2 hours or high intensity sessions. Bottom numbers represent 10% of total calories burned while top numbers represent 30%.
The page above shows Steve's total calories from carbohydrate intake percentages while running. Steve ingests carbohydrates only (versus a mix of calories) once off the bike and onto the run, so the above graph is the data he references.
Heart rate average target based on Steve's recent race would be the 152 bpm range at 30% intake (column 3 from the left) per hour. The calculation is then 115 kcal per hour. At ITU Worlds, Steve was running for 2hrs and 28min (second run) and his actual intake was 352 total carbohydrate calories. Based on his 30% intake, his target was 345 carbohydrate calories and in this instance he exceeded total calories by only a mere 8. Perfectly executed!
The tables above are included in a complete metabolic efficiency assessment and help to guide a race day fueling plan.
Just like the physical training aspect of racing, nutrition fueling is practiced. This ensures that come race day there are no questions like "what should I use for fuel?" or "how much should I ingest?" Practice makes perfect!
To summarize Steve's race day fueling....
By The Numbers:
Total Distance = 118.06 miles (6.21 mile run, 93.21 mile bike, 18.64 mile run)
Total Elevation Gain = 7,306 ft
Total Time = 8:51:46 (Yes that’s hours:minutes:seconds)
Total Calories burned = ~4,500
Total Calories consumed = 1,588
Total percent calorie intake per hour = ~33%
Steve Tomasi, ITU Long Course Duathlon World Championships, Switzerland. Cobblestone section of bike course.
Congratulations Steve on a fabulous race!
Below I have included Steve's personal race report for those of you who are interested.
2018 Powerman Long Course Duathlon World Championship
By Steve Tomasi
It was a long road to the ITU (International Triathlon Union) Duathlon Long course world championships but well worth it. I was living my dream as part of Team USA Age-Group athletes which traveled to Zofingen Switzerland to compete in this world class race.
The dream started about 2 years ago when I found out that the race would be held in Switzerland, where my grandfather was born and my 2nd cousins live.
I bought a new bike, traveled to North Carolina in April 2017 for the National championships and qualified for the World Championships. Duathon is not as popular as triathlon and the "long" course is even less popular than the olympic and sprint distances. I would soon find out why.
At nationals I took 5th place in the 55-59 age group, but since I was 59, and the world championship would be in 2018, for me, I would "aged-up" to qualify. This was part of the plan to be the youngest in my age group. At nationals, I had the 2nd fastest time among the 59-63 year olds which would represent 60-64 in 2018. The national long course wasn't that long (run 5 - bike 32 - run 5 miles) and I had no idea the length of the world championship course (6.2-93-18.6 miles with a full dose of hills). Once I found out, I only had one week to decide if I wanted to be a member of team USA and participate in the "Powerman" World Championships in Switzerland. I've never approached those distances before but decided to make the change to this ultra distance because, you never know if you'll ever have this opportunity again.
Being in good half ironman shape last September, I started to specifically train for this race last October. That meant transitioning to long slow bike/run workouts. I had my bike cassettes modified for climbing hills. I bought a smart bike trainer where I could download the Switzerland bike course to train on. I took multiple trips to the white mountains to train on 4 and 5 mile climbs. Besides the shorter weekday workouts, almost every Saturday I would do a long bike/run workout.
I found a Long Course Duathlon in the Catskill mountains in NY in May. It was a little shorter than the Switzerland course but steeper hills on the bike and run. It was a good test of my endurance and nutrition/hydration needs. 9 hours and 41 minutes later, I finished the course.
Took 1st in my age group and 8th overall in the small field of 16. This was great for my confidence. I learned 2 things, 1) given enough time, I knew I could complete the Switzerland course, 2) I don't have the experience nor guts to travel more than 40 mph downhill on the bike, where I loose a lot of time to my competitors. My goal is to safely get to the run where I can do my thing.
Training was going great until the 3rd week of July. Started having tendon issues, patella on the left leg, achilles on the right. So, this meant cutting back on running and no more hill runs. 3 weeks before the race I found out that both the run and bike course had been changed. All that time on the bike trainer memorizing the bike course could now be forgotten.
Meanwhile, my Team USA gear was arriving (USA tri-suit, shorts, T-shirt, ball cap, and cycling jersey). My brother was organizing my fan club and vacation spots/tours in Switzerland after the race. I had the most fans than anyone in the race. 10 on race day and 6 traveling around Switzerland on vacation with me.
August flew by and before we knew it we were at Logan Airport heading to Zurich.
Everything about the race was top notch, world class level
Most of Team USA athletes stayed in the same hotel, minutes from the race venue. (think olympic village). Over 30 countries were represented so we saw/met athletes all around the small town of Zofingen. We had some events to keep busy (race meeting and Team USA social and group picture), but I was getting anxious to get to race day.
The race briefing meetings had 3 sessions, German, English, and Spanish/French. My fans ran a charity 5k the day before my race and received nice Powerman Switzerland "finisher" T-shirts.
Two days before the race I went out for a easy run and bike to stay loose, see some of the course, and make sure my bike was ready to go. On the bike, I was riding with a women from Team USA when she didn't see a small curb and crashed hard. I helped get her back to the hotel and later found out that she ended up going to a hospital with a mild concussion and had to withdraw from the race.
Create a plan and stick to it.
To help settle my nerves, my race plan was to do what I've been doing every Saturday for 10 months. Have a safe bike ride and finish the run strong.
Race Day was finally here. Its been a long time training for this one day. Make it count. The starting pistol went off for my wave at 9:02am on a cool cloudy day which barely reached 64F. Perfect!
Started off easy for about 1/4 mile until we hit the first hill. I was hoping to keep my heart rate low but since my legs felt great I let my HR climb as I was climbing the hills. Was all warmed up after the first lap, felt better on the 2nd lap. Caught up to some of the younger USA guys and wasn't sure if I should slow down, show some respect, and not pass the younger guys. I figured, and was right, that they would pass me in transition or on the bike, so I ran the way I felt. Not racing fast but a crisp run without being influenced by others. Transition was slow as usual, taking my time and dealing with the unexpected, like the strap on my fanny pack came off.
I felt good on the bike, at least for the first two laps. Climbing the “switch backs” to the top of the mountain was pretty cool. Looking off the side of your bike you see bikers riding left to right above you and then looking up higher you'd see bikers riding right to left. In addition, houses built into the side of the mountain and farm land with cows, goats, and sheep. The spectators down in town near the transition area came from all over the world to root for their athlete but the spectators on the top of the mountain were locals out to watch the cycling portion of the race. By the third lap, my biking muscles were getting tired and inadvertently slowed down. On the third lap, the announcer at the top of the mountain, announced that I was in 5th place (age-group of course). First time I heard what position I was in during a race.
I had front row seats when the Professional women and later the men went flying by me on the bike. No fear of down hills with them. I safely finished up my ride. The dismount and jog through transition 2 was slow and ugly after biking 93 miles. But at least I was now racing on my terms, the run. Wasn't long before I felt comfortable settling into my 30K pace. The 2nd run and bike course were set up like a figure 8 and we did 3 loops both on the bike and 2nd run which gave the fans plenty of exposure to the athletes. My kids had the live race results app on their phones and knew where I stood in my age group. They chose not to tell me that I was 24 minutes behind the 4th place guy, but after the first third of the run they told me I was 12 minutes behind a guy from France. I wasn't optimistic about catching him until they told me I gained 12 minutes on him in the first 10K. At 20K they told me I had passed the guy and was now in 4th place. As my kids provided updates I felt more confident. 3 minutes ahead, 4:15 ahead. I asked about the 3rd place guy but was told he already finished. Base on my current time and the distance left to finish, I knew I had a chance to break 9 hours. Felt a hamstring cramp coming on at mile 14. Slowed a bit, said a few prayers, and it dissipated. A couple more inclines and then down hill to the arena and the finish. Felt great running into the arena. Passed some guy (not in my age group) headed in for a memorable finish with my family cheering from the bleachers. Set my 2 goals of breaking 9 hours and not coming in last.
Celebrate & Vacation
Once we figured out the train/bus system, it was easy getting around the country.
What a spectacular vacation we had. After 4 days in Zofingen, we spent 3 days in Lucern (with 2 excursions up in the mountains) and then 2 days in Zurich. We spent a entire day meeting my relatives near the German boarder.
Best vacation of my life!
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