Noosa Triathlon course preview
Unrivalled atmosphere, a brilliant course and pristine surrounds. It is no wonder Noosa Triathlon is the biggest event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
Launched in 1982, Noosa Triathlon has gained momentum over the past 30 years. Yet the sport's rapid popularity rise over the past five years has seen the individual and teams spots become nearly as valuable as the canal-front property athletes cruise past in the swim leg - and it now sells out within hours.
One of the most appealing aspects of Noosa is the variety of competitors. From professionals to those tackling triathlon for the first time, it's a kaleidoscope of characters and colour.
Organised by USM Events, the festival is a well-oiled machine. The 2013 event will be staged on November 3 and is the 31st anniversary.
Triathlon registration can be done on the Friday afternoon or Saturday, with bikes to be racked on the Saturday.
Registration is at the festival village in Noosa Woods at the end of Hastings Street and it's a short walk to transition in Lions Park.
While not quite as appealing as Noosa Main Beach, the canal system provides a protected course for the 1.5km journey.
Depending on tidal flows it can be a quick swim, and in recent years it has been a no wetsuit affair with the water temperature above 24 degrees.
Starting in front of the transition zone, where competitors assemble in an area where water and Endura is available, swimmers take off for a buoy before turning left and winding their way past some of Noosa most prestigious homes.
After the hard left at the beginning, competitors swim beneath the bridge where spectators have a great vantage point. From there it's a sweeping left hand turn and then a right, before heading straight to the turning buoy for about 300m.
Then it's a virtual straight line back to transition and as the athletes look up they can catch sight of the large crowd and signage assembled to provide some extra incentive to complete the first leg.
When finishing the swim competitors have a short run to the bikes.
The crowd is packed two or three deep at the start of the bike leg, and spectators line both sides of the course as the triathletes head out of transition.
It's important to get comfortable and take on fluids along Noosa Parade before turning right at the roundabout for Gympie Terrace.
At Noosaville there are a series of large speed humps. They don't require riders to slow down, just be prepared. After getting through Noosaville things begin to get serious and some tight turns around Hilton Terrace at Tewantin also need close attention.
At the 10km mark the tough stuff begins as athletes tackle Gyndier Drive, a climb of about 10% which lasts just under 3km. Used for the annual motorsport Hill Climb, corners feature concrete barriers featuring turns numbers, and when you reach 16 it indicates you are nearing the top.
Last year's event saw Garmin sponsor the climb, and spectators could download an app to keep track of their athletes for each leg's time, and to see how fast they conquered the hill.
From there riders travel down the other side of the hill toward Cooroy for another 8km before reaching the 21km mark and turn marker. The course is undulating and winds in recent years have varied, from side breezes to a head wind on the way back to town.
What goes up must come down, and the return journey has some riders reaching speeds of 80kmh-plus as they head down the hill into Tewantin.
Riders need to take care again when negotiating the sharp roundabouts and corners through Tewantin on the way back to Noosaville, especially if there has been any rain.
Spectators line nearly the whole of Noosa Parade as competitors return to transition and, depending on wave start time, they can see a steady flow of runners on the course.
Stepping off the bike and into the running shoes can be an interesting experience for rookies, but competitors quickly have test the feeling in their calves and head up a foot bridge before getting onto the run course.
Essentially flat with only minor undulations it can be a quick run that many of the elites will complete in just over 30 minutes.
At the beginning of the run leg the course can be tight and it's important to advise slower competitors of the intention to pass.
Once through the main spectator area there is far more real estate along Noosa Parade. Drink stations offer water as well as Endura, and there is also a hose spray to help athletes keep their cool.
The course can be hot as competitors pound the bitumen along the Weyba Road loop. The turn is just short of the Leslie Rd roundabout, and it's just after that point the runners reach the halfway mark.
Heading back along the footpath can provide some much-needed shade.
Yet it's not until runners reach the grass in the turn off Noosa Parade to Dolphin Crescent that it feels like the end is nigh.
Passing one beautiful home after the next, it's almost like a figure eight loop to Wyuna Drive where there is the odd resident providing a water spray before reaching the final water stop at 8km.
When rejoining Noosa Parade runners can feel the carnival atmosphere build. At the 9km mark the spectators line the route in a constant stream and the regularly encouragement and high-fives from children provide great incentive over what can be a challenging final kilometre.
Once the blue carpet is in sight it's a signal that the job is done and a chance to soak up the support from an enthusiastic crowd.
Before handing over the timing chip competitors can cool down in a makeshift shower, and then head for the recovery area for fruit, water and Endura.