>More Than a Number

>As triathletes, we love numbers. We track them. We talk about them. We blog them. We tweet them.

You know what I’m talking about. How many miles did I run? What was my pace? How many calories did I burn? How many watts did I generate on the bike? How many yards did I swim today? What is my resting heart rate? What is my Zone 3 heart rate? How many gels do I need to take on my ride?

There’s another number that seems to get triathletes – especially those doing a full distance race – to get totally jacked up. Our race bib number.

Don’t believe me? Go check out Beginner Triathlete and look in the Iron distance race section. You’ll find posts such as “Ironman Florida Bib Numbers Posted”.

I understand the hype. I’ve been there and lived the excitement. I recall checking every day for my IMKY and IMFL bib numbers. I guess it made the race feel real.

But I didn’t really think much about actually being treated like a number until I raced Rev3 Knoxville a couple of weeks ago. You see, only through comparison was I able to see the tangible differences between Rev3 and other races.

First – a little background. This is my second year being sponsored by Trakkers/Rev3, but I had never raced a Rev3 race until this season. Knoxville was my first. I had read about how Rev3 is family friendly and offers up a great venue, but I hadn’t experienced it personally.

Now that I have I totally get it. Rev3 puts on an awesome race. You know the feeling you get from small, local races? Races where you know lots of folks there? Where the folks working at packet pickup or transition are so friendly they could talk your ear off? I love those traits about small races. That being said, I love the atmosphere of a big-time race with lots and lots of athletes. WTC races typify “big-time”. Thousands of athletes. Oodles of volunteers. Well, Rev3 is also a major race. Knoxville had more than 1000 athletes. A huge production. More semi-trucks than a rest-stop on the interstate.

But it felt local. There were small touches that made this event feel like home. Friendly faces. Outstanding volunteers. My picture on a jumbotron. Access to the RD and even the owner of the series. Interaction with professionals (you don’t get that at a WTC event). Folks at expo tents who wanted to know my name and my story. A very cool fellowship meeting put on by Multisport Ministries. In short, this was a huge ass race that felt like a local one just down the street.

Contrast Rev3 with the last WTC race I did – the Florida 70.3. That felt like a cattle call. Too little space in transition. Hurry up – go here, go there. Buy this (and pay a ton for it). Park a jillion miles away. Take a shuttle bus too and fro.

Rest assured that the actual races themselves (the physical swimbikerun part) were essentially no different from each other. You go for a swim, then a bike, and then a run. But the way they felt was so different from each other. WTC felt all corporate; Rev3 grassroots. Rev3 felt like home.

In my mind, it’s a winning formula.


14 thoughts on “>More Than a Number

  1. >I couldn't agree with you more. Some of the bigger races are all about pushing product and herding you around with too many other athletes. There are lots of great half iron distance races that give the warm feeling of a small local race, but with the 'big event' feel. I've been doing the Toughman Tri – http://www.toughmantri.com – since its inception and I've never been to another race where the number of volunteers is almost equal to the number or athletes. I'm finding / hearing that the WTC races are just getting to big and impersonal.

  2. >I agree totally, I am a numbers guy, I have a minor in math… it just is who I am. I loved the fact that Rev3 Knoxville had both big and little race feels to it. I also LOVED the tattoo numbers!

  3. >I have hear that Rev3 is more friendly, but what you describe is way past friendly to me. Sounds like a great operation.

  4. >I have done both. I have only one Rev3 under my belt which is Quassy, and though just the olympic, as a 1st race, definitely a trial by fire. The Quassy course is unrelenting for both the Oly and the Half… Oh another hill… Shocker! I also went to through the cattle corrals at Timberman 70.3 and Longhorn 70.3. WTC races themselves are well run, they attract solid fields, and a lot is definitely because of the CARROT they hold out there which they more than aptly squeeze every drop they can out of. Timberman was seriously over crowded as a 2500+ 70.3. Fortunately I could not sleep and decided to head to transition and camp out until gates opened. Luckily they were open and even though it was not even 5, the lower lot was close to half full, and thankfully I avoided the shuttle mess. It is still a "home course" for me. A great swim, and the locals on the run and their support make it an awesome way to push through, but I will wait until the numbers drop below 2K do do it again. Rev3 races are growing, have not hit those insane numbers, but there is a much better "feel" to the race. People seem friendlier, more interested. The name badges on the bike rack are only a small touch, but a nice one. The tribute to Sally Meyerhoff at the Knoxville race is not something I would ever expect to see the WTC do, but fits perfectly with the mold of what I have come to expect from Rev3. It will be interesting to watch Rev3 grow. I definitely look forward to more races hopefully near to me to give me the options. They may not be the corporate gorilla, but as an AGer, the experience in their races has more to do with me, than the event. That can be a difficult tangible to explain or quantify, but I also think you are more likely to strike up a conversation with a fellow athlete in transition or check-in and develop a friendship than you are at a WTC race. Have not decided how much of that is the atmosphere of the Rev3 race, or the people that have discovered the Rev3 races so far. My parents have also come to watch at my races and by far they enjoyed the Rev 3 offering head and shoulders over the others.

  5. >Looking forward to my first Rev3 race – Quassy Oly. By passed Mooseman this year because of all the great feedback I have heard about Rev3 – and b/c Moose is now owned by WTC. Can't wait!

  6. >I raced the entire Rev3 series last year, which was my 1st Tri-season. Knoxville, Oly, Quassy 1.2 & Cedar Point Full! I was drawn to Rev3 due to the family friendly advertising. They just keep adding family friendly venues and when I see families crossing the finish line with Mom or Dad or other sibling, honestly it's hard to fight back the tears sometimes! The sport of Triathlon is so selfish and to see these types of things pull families together, to me, is what it is all about. Thanks Rev3 for "getting" it! May you continue to touch families in a positive manner. I'm one of the guys wearing the MsM kit with the big smile as I cross the finish line and love it when Sean and Whit call out mine and everyone else's name!

  7. >I agree Joel, each Rev3 event is an amazing event. Thank you Joel for taking the time to publicly document your positive experience. I can't wait to race a Rev3 in 2011! May you blessed this very important Memorial Day weekend and the rest of your season as well.Erik Pace BirkholzMultisport MINISTRIES

  8. >Hey Joel! It was great to finally meet up with you at Knoxville this year! I think you hit the nail on the head with REV3, the event just has that friendly, local feel to it. And it rubs off on the pros, as they were so accessable and cool as could be. Matty Reed was hanging out at the PBN tent talking to everyone.

  9. >I agree all the way. The difference between Knox(my first Rev3 too), and IM 70.3 Augusta is exactly like you decribed it. I loved the feel at Knox, even though I only spent a little time in the expo, meeting new people and teammates was super easy, and it felt like everyone was kind of interconnected.

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