Race Date: Sunday July 24, 2016
(Participants: 426 sprint/278 Oly)
Nashville - the birthplace, home and/or final resting place of some of music's most legendary figures; a city instrumental in the launch of many storied, iconic careers; home of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand ol' Opry; a bustling metropolis so melodic it's been dubbed "The Music City". Yet, despite these harmonic, knee-jerk associations, Nashville hosts multiple professional sports teams. It's also the capital city of Tennessee, which everyone knows. And on top of all of that, the Nashville skyline showcases a building shaped like the flippin' Batman's head. In short, they got it all, ya'll - including a triathlon.
In the middle of all of this history, hustle and honky-tonk, Team Magic demonstrate the merits of their name. The way they manage 2 concurrent race-distances in this setting is beyond an illusion and easily justifies the decision to make Music City the choice for the 3rd annual GCTT road-trip.
Transition is staged in one of the parking lots at Nissan Stadium, home-field of the Tennessee Titans. There is plenty of convenient parking and the swim-bike and bike-run flow is well thought out. It is advisable though to plot the most efficient routes through transition as it is possible to cover more distance than necessary due to the overall size of the area.
Every leg of this race is marked by distinctive "ups" and "downs". The Olympic-distance swim sends racers stroking "upstream" for approximately the first 600 yards along the Northeast riverbank. After traversing over to the Southwest shore, swimmers turn "downstream" for a straight shot to the finishing ramp. Buoys were big, bright and easy to spot. There was plenty of assistance at the exit to ensure nothing worse than a stubbed toe (hypothetical) while emerging from the water. No wetsuits permitted on the day so nothing to fidget with - just head down and scurry up the riverbank into transition.
The Olympic-distance course is a two-loop, out-and-back (sprint course is just 1 loop). The "out" is markedly "up" and the "back" is a net "down". In total, there are about 28 miles covered with a little over 1000-feet of elevation gain and not a car on one inch of the entire route. Right in the middle of the 25th largest U.S. city, 700+ cyclists with 100% ownership of the roads wouldn't be more impressive if Team Magic pulled a rabbit out of an aero-helmet or an endless chain of chamois' from someone's tri shorts.
For the run, the Music City transposed into a more sultry, minor key. With the temperatures singing 90-degree falsetto notes and the sun playing a scorching solo, even Team Magic didn't have a trick up their sleeve to keep the ice-packs from melting in the mile-and-a-half stretches between aid-stations. The brief moments of shadowy respite under the Interstate overpass were welcome on both of the 2-lap, out-and-back treks. As the temps went "up", the war of attrition began to keep the pace from falling too far "down".
GCTT represented well with 4 AG titles and unarguably two of the fastest chains on the course (the secret is Mississippi mud). No mechanicals, penalties or flats...excluding the moving karaoke performance that took place much later that night and should be available for purchase soon. Another great weekend of racing in the books.