Blog by Daniel Hopper:
Mark Allen, Scott Molina, Jürgen Zäck, Paula Newby-Fraser, Natascha Badmann, Lori Bowden. These could all be names on the past winners list at any big triathlon around the world, except its not. This list of big name triathlon superstars are all past winners of Powerman Zofingen, one of the most important duathlons in our sport and a race that should be on every long course triathletes bucket list. Don’t let the fact that it’s not a triathlon get in the way. The legend Mark Allen himself has described this race as harder than any Ironman he has done.
Powerman Zofingen is currently the ITU Long Course duathlon World Championships. It is also considered the The race is held around the small Swiss town of Zofingen situated around halfway between Zurich and Bern. While it is a World Championship event, you wouldn’t know it was not for athletes being in national team kit. It’s managed still maintained its old school relaxed feel, which these days is lost in most events. When you combine this with an organisation run with Swiss precision and a local crowed that go crazy on course, the event experience is second to none.
Now onto the thing that Powerman Zofingen is famous for, the course. The race consist of a 10km run, 142km bike and 30km run to finish then day of. Also as the race is in Switzerland its hilly as well, the swiss don’t do flat.
Therace starts with a 10km run, comprises of 2 5km loops with around 100m vertical gain a lap. The race starts just outside of the finishing arena and straight off the start line you are reminded that the course is an honest as it comes. 200m into run you hit a 1.6km long climb up into the forest above town. at an average of 6.5% and at its steepest hits 13.5% around halfway up this start is a rude awakening. Once at the top you head down a rolling descent back down to town and through the finishing arena for you to do it all again.
The first run
The bike consists of 3 47km figure of 8 laps with around 620m vertical a lap, most of which occurs between the 15km and 40km. Out of transition the bike course head through the old town of Zofingen. 800m of cobbled roads through a traditional walled city, with a town square and old buildings to help add to making it a proper European experience. From there you head out on a 14km loop to the west of town. This loop, other than a very small hill is flat and fast as you fly through local farming roads. From there its back around the edge of town to start the second loop on the figure of 8 course. Here you start climbing back out of town. The first of the 2 major climbs starts shortly after and is around 1.6km long. This is followed by a very quick descent leading onto a 10km long section of rolling climbs through typical Swiss farming villages. Then it’s onto the main feature, the climb up to Wiliberg.
The bike lap
The Wiliberg climb is around 3.7km long as it snakes up the hill and has 2 parts. There is the earlier, steeper part of the climb which lasts for about 2.7km. After this the climb flattens out as you continue to climb for another KM. From there its onto the Wiliberg descent. This is a real European descent with tight technical switch backs and amazing views. To experience the descent, here is a link to some onboard I took on the descent in the lead into the race; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWdclrkB7Xg. Then its over a short steep climb before the fast slightly downhill run back into Zofingen.
Once off the bike the race really starts. The second run is over 3 10km loops which has 2 out and back sections. Out of transition you head back into the old town for a 3km out and back loop where you make your way through the cobbled streets. From there its back through the finishing arena and onto a 7km out and back loop. From the arena you climb up through the forest to the plateau above town before turning around and heading back down to the finishers arena. The climb is around 1600m long and not a steep as the first run which is a welcome site to tired legs.
The second run lap
Having done this race now 5 times, I can tell you experience plays a big factor at a race like this, not only with the course but in the week leading into it. Pacing is everything in a race like this, get it wrong and the blow ups are spectacular. So there you have it, a rundown of the legendary race known as Powerman Zofingen, a race that should be on everyone’s bucket list.