Michelle and I visited Richmond on Saturday, the site of the USAT Duathlon National Championships. I've heard all sorts of things from people... brutal course... not-so-bad course... hilly, short, technical, you name it.
Got there and was greeted by Civil War veterans (both of the Union AND Confederacy) packing heat... muskets with bayonets and revolvers and swords. Terrifying. Especially since Michelle and I weren't supposed to be amongst them. We were just trying to find 2nd Street. We managed to escape alive, but we felt their stares that emanated through their war-ravaged, fully-bearded faces.
We first tested out the run course. It was pretty confusing the first time through. Rumors of lots of turns and gravel turned out to be true. But it wasn't hilly. A few light rollers and a steep downhill start, but other than that, pretty flat (heh, that rhymes). I can see how times were pretty fast last year, as we measured it to be a little short.
We couldn't ride the course, as much of it takes place on busy highway/bridges, so we drove it. It looks tough. Plenty of false flats, rollers, and probably the worst of all... highway entry ramps: steep, curving hills that empty onto flat or false-flat roads. I'll need all the acceleration I can muster. But the hills work to my strength, which is on uphills. I can really gain and separate on people on the bike when the course is hilly.
So basically, everything that everyone has said about the course is true. It's technical, it's hilly, it's short, brutal on the quads but really not so bad. I'm looking forward to it even more now.