Monday, September 13, 2010

GranFondo - claim jumpers

It is apparent that a good starting position is critical for a good finish time, but also that a good starting position does not guarantee a good finish time if you are not in shape.

I was 438th across the start line, just about 1:40 after the first riders. While I managed to move up a great deal. The people who started at the very front had an open lane and took good advantage of it. This group got a nice gap and kept it throughout the race. IFF you are not in that group off the start, then you have to move forward to it. Not impossible as there are people all along to bridge too. But still more work than if you start at the front.

Out of about 30 male riders in the first big group to arrive in Squamish, 5 started in the Alta Class (pay extra for best starting position.. about 40 people) at about 6:59:45. The rest started in the the 3-4 hour chute, at about 7:00:05. They where in recorded start positions starting at 44 through 137 (male starters) with the 137 crossing only 35 seconds later. There was only ONE additional rider, starting 70 positions or an additional 18 seconds later who managed to bridge up and join this group, which had a 1:11 lead over the next group once they got to Squamish. 

I went across at 7:01:20. Another 18 seconds and a couple hundred more riders behind that rider. And was about 9 minutes behind by Squamish.

Looking at starting, the Alta Class started at 6:59:45 and the last rider (except for some late starters) rode across at 7:19:49. So it took about 20 minutes to start everyone. I was 438, and about 30% into the 3-4 hour chute. So at an estimate the 3-4 hour chute had (at least) 700 starters (counting men only) and they where all started by about 7:03. 

Of these only about 240 actually finished under 4 hours. So about 450 people didn't and their finish times ranged all the way from 4-6 hours. In fact I could find over 50 riders starting at the very front of the 3-4 hour chute (i.e. in the first 60 seconds) that finished in over 4:30.  Again this is male riders only.

Possibly a few of those had mechanicals. But its reasonably obvious that people where not seeding them selves appropriately. Finishing 5-10 minutes over 4 hours is justifiable. More than 30 minutes looks slightly bad and more than an hour is ridiculous, they never had a chance of finishing close to 4 hours.

I couldn't find anyone starting in the later chutes who finished under 4 hours. So it appears that the people who could do under 4 hours did seed them selves correctly. But there is a large contingent of people who just don't follow instructions and effectively make it more difficult for those who might otherwise.

In some respects perhaps the setup of the chutes promoted this. With five chutes (3-4 hours, 4-5, 5-6, 6-7 and +7) that where all about the same size, or say holding about 20% of 4000 people, roughly 700-800 riders in each. But only about 12 percent of the finishers actually got in under 4 hours. So a smaller 3-4 hour chute with some effort at policing the entry to it would be appropriate. Probably about half the size of this years chute.