Wrong Way Decision by the WTC
I am pissed.
Not only does it affect me personally — I prefer the way the race has always started — but I think it is wrongheaded and will likely make things more risky and dangerous for the marginal athlete. So in an effort to change good headlines about safety, make it appear as if the barriers to entry to the race are lower (training, practice in open-water, confidence to take on jostling that accompanies open water swimming), and therefore bring in more people, they will be making it less safe.
Among the many downsides:
— It changes the dynamic of swimming in a slipstream;
— Self seeding won’t work with many people going to the front simply because they are ready to start or anxious to get things under way, not because they are faster;
— They have allocated 30 minutes for the start of the race — if they start one person every second that is only 1,800 athletes;
— Because the course requires you to come out of the water for about 5 yards, they will still have age-groupers starting at 7.00 a.m. as the pros are rounding the start/finish area at the end of lap one of the two-lap course;
— It makes the race appear “safer” and less treacherous to the marginal athlete — the very same people who tend to undertrain, underestimate the day and fail to practice open-water swimming skills thus resulting in more risk because more of the field is made up of people who really shouldn’t be there but are because they are enticed by the sanitized, clean imagery.
— For those with a race strategy — not me, I have a pace strategy and won’t ever be on a podium — it makes it impossible to know where you are vis a vis the field throughout the day because you don’t know where the other competitors were compared to you at the start.