Last year I wrote an editorial on this page
called “Collateral Damage” about the 3Disciplines
Racing Willow Duathlon. It was highly critical of 3Dsiciplines
Racing and the organization and safety of the Willow Duathlon
This year I participated in the 2004 Willow
Duathlon as a competitor. I am pleased to report that every
issue I criticized in my editorial about the Willow Duathlon
was fully addressed based on my experience in the event.
The 2004 Willow Duathlon was an excellent event.
It was well organized, safe and fun. There were substantial
improvements over the 2003 race in nearly every aspect of
the event. Ken Krell, race director and boss at 3Disciplines
stepped up to the plate and my criticism in a big way. That
says a lot about 3Disciplines as a race promotion company
and even more about Ken Krell as a person.
Surely every one of us must face criticism of
our work in our jobs. But Ken Krell is a relatively high profile
personality in the multisport world as a race promoter and
as such a lot of his performance reviews are held in the public
forum. Sometimes that is fair, sometimes it is not. Ken Krell
didn’t waste too much time worrying about what was fair
and what was not. He looked at the criticism of his event,
acknowledged the shortcomings and fixed them. That is impressive.
How many of you do you think could get your ass kicked on
Internet sites and forums and come back swinging? Krell did
that, and he did it with calm and reserve.
This year at a critical corner the Willow Duathlon
had no less than four corner marshals, some waving large red
flags, and one police officer with his car. All other corners
of the race were also adequately marshaled. I saw at least
four motorcycles on the course monitoring the athletes for
compliance with race rules.
Aid stations on the course were plentiful and
well staffed by race workers who had obviously been trained
in how to hand up a cup to an athlete. Based on my experience
they performed perfectly, as well as any crew at a World Championship
Race volunteers I spoke with were well informed
about the important nature of keeping athletes on course.
They understood what they were supposed to do to keep athletes
on course. Obviously, they had been trained prior to the event.
Al Petri & Sons Bicycles sent a full crew to the race
and provided technical support for athletes. Randy Step’s
Running Fit, Hammer Nutrition, Gatorade, Willow and Oakwood
Metroparks, Downriver Goldwings Motorcycle Club, Huron Valley
Ambulance Co., Huron Valley Police, Chelsea High School Track
and Cross Country Team, EMU Dance Team, the Girl Scouts and
others were also at Willow to help make the event a success.
Race bags contained a detailed map of the transition
area and the entire course with detailed written instructions.
I do not know how many volunteers were at last year’s
event or this year’s event. However, I can tell you
that at this year’s event there did appear to be significantly
greater numbers of race workers.
Speaking of race bags, when I emptied mine out
there was a bunch of useful stuff in there. There was a sample
of Hammer Gel, Endurolytes, an envelope of Tylenol (now that’s
a good idea!) and a bunch of other stuff that was actually
worth keeping. If you consider it cost me $45 to enter Willow
for day-of race registration and there was no license cost
then subtract the value of the stuff in the bag (which we
figured was about $12) then the race really only cost about
$33.00. That’s cheap for half a day’s entertainment
that is healthy and interactive.
I did receive information that a group of 10
or fewer athletes did go off course but when I spoke with
two of those athletes after the race they told me it was their
own mistake, not the corner marshal’s. This error did
not occur out on the road, but in the park, and it was not
the mistake of anyone connected with 3Disciplines. Several
athletes simply made a goof by their own admission.
Results for the Willow Duathlon were up on the
3Disciplines website early the next day and race photos were
even on Multisportphoto.com. In addition to this Ken Krell’s
3Disciplines Racing collected 3 dozen pairs of running shoes
and food for the Food From Athletes program, a charity that
helps underprivileged families.
After I finished the race I quickly returned
to Bikesport and posted a summarized version of the above
report on Slowtwitch.com’s fine forum. I was a little
disappointed that the thread did not receive nearly the attention
that the highly critical thread from last year did. Why is
it that people are so attracted to criticism but are not too
interested in someone doing a nice job? Thousands of people
read the thread from last year about 3Disciplines and their
travails with the Willow Duathlon and USAT, but only about
a hundred looked at the thread from this year. That’s
3Disciplines also was “de-sanctioned”
by USAT last year, according to a USAT press release. At the
time that seemed like (and still may be) a significant condemnation
of 3Disciplines by USAT, our sport’s governing body.
But then a scandal within USAT itself created
a nuclear blast in the sport that made the 3Dsiciplines affair
look like a firecracker. USAT’s election and voting
procedures have been called into question. The procedure for
collecting votes, the agendas of the officers, damn near everything
within the organization seems either crooked or at least questionable.
Given these circumstances maybe it is fair to
say that at best, USAT was the pot calling the kettle black
when they pulled 3Discipline’s sanctioning for “Failure
to comply with USAT race standards for safety and administrative
compliance.” After all, who monitors USAT’s standards
for administrative compliance? Given the current election/administrative
scandal, apparently no one.
Like the saying goes, people in glass houses
shouldn’t throw rocks. In a case of significant irony,
perhaps 3Disciplines not being associated with USAT is like
them being the first passenger off the Titanic: They may be
better off. The fat lady is a long way from singing on the
I had the coincidental experience of chatting
with several of the upper level players in the on-going USAT
controversy over the past few months. I came away with respect
for each of the party’s perspectives- and the parties
themselves- but acknowledge that they are very polarized.
Realistically it is impossible for me to be objective about
the USAT mess since two of the key characters are people whom
I call friends and have a great deal of personal and professional
But I can tell a mess when I see one. USAT is
a mess. 3Disciplines is not, at least based on my experience
at the Willow Duathlon.
Willow was the season opener for the sport and
it was a nice reunion. On the way to the race one of my favorite
athletes, Ell Bruley, pulled up next to me on the freeway.
I waved to Ell on the way to the race. Little did I know Ell
would be kicking my ass in the race.
Sometimes when a race starts you sort of form
into groups. During the first run I found myself next to Ironman
Champion and World Champion Laura Sophiea. It was actually
quite an honor to be running alongside Sophiea, I was literally
rubbing elbows with a World Champion. You don’t get
that at every race. As luck would have it I somehow managed
to keep Sophiea in sight during the entire race. That was
a significant accomplishment considering she had just returned
from a 500-mile training week on the bike in Florida.
Eric Fernando, last year’s champion and
his girlfriend Cheryl Klotkowski were also in attendance.
Cheryl won the event hands down with here lightening fast
run and a tremendously improved bike leg. Klotkowski has established
herself as one of the finest U.S. amateur triathletes were
her wins at everything from ½ Ironman distance to short
duathlons like Willow.
Willow reminded me that short events really
hurt and I am absolutely not trained for short, fast racing
right now. I would have done better if the race had been a
½ marathon, 112 mile bike and then another ½
marathon. I’m OK for going long right now, but in a
short, fast race like Willow I couldn’t get out of my
own way. Nonetheless it was good training for me for the Nankin
Mills Duathlon and the Grosse Ile Duathlon over the next two
weekends. I’ve worked at those events many time in previous
years but haven’t raced either. This year I will see
it from the racer’s perspective.
I was impressed with the sweeping and obvious
improvements Ken Krell made at the Willow Duathlon. He did
a fine job and deserves credit for it. If this is indicative
of how the other 3Disciplines events will be in 2004, and
there is every reason to believe it is, then it will be a
good season for 3Disciplines and Ken Krell.
us your feedback on this editorial here.