Bad news for poor swimmers, the distance will be what it should be simply because Quebec lakes are frozen during the winter when it is very easy to use a GPS and drop permanent cinder blocks at the bottom of the lake. The water is expected to be rather warm for swimming in wetsuits. This means there are some dangers of overheating. So without being alarmist, we must be aware of the danger. The water is clean enough. One peculiarity of Tremblant is the relatively long distance running for T1, about 500m. It is essential to run well in this transition, you could loose lots of time otherwise. That’s when you need to remember how the young ITU athletes run through transitions as if their lives depended on it.
Here is a video by the race organizers for the swim leg.
The bike course.
It’s all about rhythm. The bike course needs to be approached in sections. According to Trimes.org, the course is neither easy nor difficult and it will reward smarter cyclists because it has some traps.
First, the course being in/out, the best AG will be able to see each other 3 times in the 180 degrees turns. This means that some will increase their pace to stay with other cyclists, contrary to other races where you don’t really know where the leaders are. This means that some are likely to not follow their plan.
Second, contrary to popular belief, the first 70km offers no major difficulty with the exception of the climb at the 43km mark on road 117. So these first hill can be taken gradually at a tempo pace. There is no radical percentage to make you fall backwards.
The real challenge resides in the Duplessis section – the last 20 kilometers. It is a succession of ups and downs. Some will pay very dearly a lack of volume in training or a race pace that is too fast. In fact, this section is demanding because you need rhythm, must attack the end of the climbs to gain maximum downhill speed for the next rise. This is a specificity that triathletes do not usually train much, the capacity to re-accelerate many times without burning out.
Instead of fearing this section, approach it as an opportunity to gain some time. The return part of this section is easier and will help you relax before you start running.
You will have to be extremely pro-active in your use of shifting – never waiting. Users of electric gruppos will be at an advantage.
So is it a slow course? We do not think so. Actually, we did the 90 km loop in 2:30 while stopping at traffic lights, etc. … but riding fast. The big advantage of this course is that technically it is easy and the roads are good. And yes you could do the entire 90 km and never touch your brakes! And the quality of the asphalt produces higher speeds. It is probable that the best age-groupers will be able to finish in 2:20. This is quite similar to courses like Timberman or Syracuse.
The potential trap we noticed. The final bike aid station is at km 63. We say this but we never use them. But it is good to know just in case. Especially that the accumulation of water bottles is not recommended.
We recommend this video. It shows this last bike section that might become the “dark ages” for some (especially in an IM scenario).
Again, it is all about rhythm. Although not easy, this course can be very fast if it is well approached. It too needs to be addressed in sections.
The first 5 km are uphill. They could be fatal for those who have spent too much energy on the bike. Next is the dirt/gravel road on what used to be railroad tracks. This section is perfectly flat. The bad news is that although there is vegetation, you are almost never sheltered and it can be quite hot.
The return is downhill, you should use that advantage as a motivation for coming home! Also, we suggest you choose your shoes based on the dirt/gravel road. Shoes that are too flexible on the forefoot can become very uncomfortable in this situation (eg Lunaracer ).
Another trap, the 5 aid station will all be available in both directions. Skipping a station could be perilous since it would result in no water for almost 5 km.
We consider the running course as standard and rather pleasant. The gravel section is slightly boring, but passing through the town parts should compensate.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no reason for this course to produce slower than usual times.