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A Very Strange CES Vegas 140.6

This year, as a promotion for their V800 multisport watch, Polar announced a rather unique twist on the iron-distance race format.  Pro triathlete Tim Don stepped up to give the Las Vegas strip a glimpse of what a 140.6 triathlon is all about…well kind of.  Since this was a solo event and not an actual competition with traditional swim-bike-run venues, the PR folks went all creative on us and threw together an interesting  variation.

For starters they kept all three events centered around the Consumer Electronics Show venues.  This year, CES expanded its physical presence into a few different locations around town, mainly because of the tremendous amount of show floor space required to house all the new technology being shown.  With attendance at greater than 160,000 attendees and 3,600 exhibitors the CES is massive and has outgrown any single location, hence the perfect opportunity for, well, a triathlon.

Kind of a mashup of a point to point race and an out and back course, they split the locales over two locations; The Sands Convention Center and the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Given that those two points are only about 2.5 kilometers apart, at best, and with no large bodies of water anywhere close by, the creativity started early in the race.

The carefully choreographed plan called for an early morning swim for Tim in the lap pool at the Venetian, a well known landmark on the Las Vegas strip. From there he would bike a bit to get over to the Polar booth at the Sands, where he would quickly mount his bike on a stationary trainer and knock out the rest of his 112 miles.  And as if that wasn’t mind-numbing enough, he’ll then do a quick T2 of about 2.5 meters and jump on a treadmill for a quick marathon. And all that would wrap up with a short run back out into fresh air for a jaunt to the finish line at the Las Vegas Convention Center, where there are a gazillion people assembled, maybe not for this unique 140.6 finish, but they will be assembled there nonetheless.

The Swim:

So, on to the excitement.  Las Vegas truly never sleeps, but at a 6 AM start at an outdoor pool it was eerily quiet, and eerily lacking in light, hence not a lot of photos here.

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But I managed to pull off a few. Tim was quite chipper and social for his PR interviews, at least for someone who was about to tackle what for most of us would be pure trainer/dreadmill torture. Extra points for The Real Starky sighting below.

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So, a quick change into a full wetsuit, and then he was off.

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After a nice controlled 2.4 mile swim it was time to mix things up, so out of the pool, onto one of the absolutely most unusual T1’s you’ll ever see.  A quick kit change and we were off to the freight elevator.  Tim’s best line of the morning: “I wish all transitions had such a nice pool cabana!”.

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The Bike:

The freight elevator led us through the bowels of the huge Venetian complex and we exited feeling all Ocean’s Eleveny…right onto the casino floor.  None of the regulars so much as batted an eye.  It was as if it was an everyday occurrence for a three-time Olympian to burst out of a freight elevator dragging a phalanx of photographers and videographers. Just another morning at the slots.

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From there it was out into the brilliant desert sunshine and directly into heavy traffic.  And as Tim proved, the Las Vegas Strip is very cycle-friendly, as long as you have a police escort.

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Once at the other location Tim briefly had to de-bike himself and navigate some cyclocross-like obstacles, inadvertently violating that sacred airport code of ‘stand to the right, walk to the left’.

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Now keep in mind that this portion of the 140.6 took place before the show floor was opened to the conference attendees, hence the sparse foot traffic.  That would soon change.

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A quick CompuTrainer mounting exercise and then he was off for the remainder of his 112 mile bike ride.  Well, not really off, more like just on…forever.

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Here’s where you have to appreciate what this man put himself through, four and half hours on a trainer is mind-numbing, even with the great people watching that CES presents.

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On a positive note, Tim’s ‘special needs table’ was always conveniently close at hand.

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As were the ever-present microphones and selfies.

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Finally it was time for another transition, albeit a very short one, distance-wise.  The awaiting treadmill is like maybe 10 steps away.  And of course, in true method-acting tradition, Tim prepares for his flying dismount in the shot below.

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The Run:

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A quick kit change and more Polar bling and the run begins…

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And more reporters, microphones, and cameras.

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This shot is at about the 21 mile mark, he makes it look so easy.

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And this is the face of a man who just hit that point where he realizes he can get off of a three-hour treadmill run.

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Finally.

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Back through the now crowded lobby, to the sunshine and then just a couple of more miles to the finish.

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Finish1

First place for a podium finish!

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And another Real Starky shakedown interview.

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And thus ends the first ever official Las Vegas 140.6.  Oh, and the back-story behind this event is that there was great concern that a timing issue would keep it from ever happening.  Fortunately the timing worked out in everyone’s favor; a big congrats to Tim and his wife for that new baby boy born on Christmas Eve!

And below are a few photo outtakes, but interesting nonetheless. Thanks for reading!

Welcome to CES 2015! Don’t forget to check out all my CES 2015 coverage, as well as my continual updates throughout the day on Twitter.  It’s gonna be a crazy busy week!

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47 Comments

  1. Top stuff. What patience to sit on a stationary for 4+ hours knowing there’s a massive treadmill session coming next! Great pics too, thanks.

  2. Tisztul_A_Visztula

    Unique and cool

  3. Dave Lusty

    Out of interest, is the v800 now considered “finished” or are there still things outstanding on the firmware list?

    • There’s still a list of items they’re working on (I’ve got some updated dates coming shortly there from the Polar folks on what’s left) – but they’ve done a good job in really getting quite a bit of the big ticket items knocked off the list.

    • Dave Lusty

      Thanks Ray, at the moment I’m more hoping that they complete this firmware and then release new competitive hardware next year using what they have learned. Such a shame Garmin released the 920XT when they did as the v800 still looks lovely if you ignore the Garmin stuff. I keep feeling tempted to add one to the collection but can’t see a time where I’d wear it instead of the 920 :(

    • Cristian

      Really interested in these updates.

      Thanks a lot!
      Cristian.

  4. Paris

    I wish they will get the results are expecting from this viral campaign

    its indeed inovative and very well implemented

    good to see advanced marketing stuff in this market, which so far we were only seeing copy cut videos + products between the companys.

  5. Happy Runner

    I’m impressed that you got up at dawn and hung with Tim for the whole 140.6! Great photos (love the perfect timing of the shoe tie).

  6. Come on then… what time did he get :D

  7. Sal

    Ray, if you talk to Polar-people, can you please asked them if the forthcoming smartwatch-style notification for the V800 is really in the pipeline!
    –> link to engadget.com

  8. Fabio

    And I bitch about 45 minute workouts in the trainer… After reading this I think I’m not on the right to complain anymore.
    Even with all the CES crowd and interviews and everything else to kill the boredom, 4.5 hours in a trainer then treadmill is just torturing.

    Completing an ironman outdoors is a difficult challenge, but indoors?! Oh come on… Dude just stepped up the game a little.

    Major, major, major props to Tim.

  9. jason K

    Kinda sorta related but saw on Runners World that Epson announced a GPS running watch with optical HR and stole Meb from Garmin?

    • Yup, it’s one that was announced this past summer. They came out with a bunch of them. It’s good stuff, a bit basic in the UI department, but the fundamental accuracy is there.

      As for Meb, it was simply a money thing from what I hear (I’ve heard the rough amounts he was paid from both). More power to him. Garmin is known for not paying too deeply for their pro athletes (aside from the cycling team).

    • Bachoo

      In your post about this you mentioned a Dec review. Obviously, things change. From what I’ve seen on my own they seem a bit lackluster and a tad overpriced. However, I was wondering about one feature. They are promoting a 30hr (20 with GPS + optical HR) battery life. Do you know the recording interval they use?

  10. Jason Kang

    Does anyone know what shoes he’s wearing? The blue ones with the orange laces.

  11. Harriet

    That casino floor in bike shoes looks very dangerous!

    the treadmill is seriously impressive stuff.

  12. MattB

    No time penalty for illegally drafting that car?

    • MattB

      Wierd.. the second half of my comment disappeared! Well done Tim, I’m not sure which is the greater achievement.. managing to grind out the trainer and treadmill distances, or managing not to fall asleep during it after 2 weeks of sleep deprivation! Congratulations on the ‘race’ and the new baby!

  13. Patrick

    This was a good story, but the pictures made it great. Thank you!

    One tiny niggle, “Ocean’s Evelveny…right onto the casino floor” Eleveny maybe?

    • Randy Cantu

      Good catch, Patrick, all fixed now. As Ray’s editor, I’m usually the one pointing out mis-types, it’s nice to be on the other side of the fence for a change. Cheers.

    • Tosin

      I saw that too….oh well, it was early.

      At my old job, we were doing some promotion, guys vs girls staff, and wanted to see how many miles we could run in one store day between all the staff working. The girls won by like 3 miles, first of all, but we kept it close, and I ran 13 miles on a treadmill in a display window. Nothing like running relatively hard, with people being able to ask you questions, and stare at you to kinda make you wish you weren’t doing it. Tim is a better man for being able to do the treadmill and bike like that. I hope they had a good fan set up for him, because the slightest change in breeze, and I would lose my mind.

    • MM

      if you are editing you might also want to fix the “at an outdoor pool it was eerily quite” quite -> quiet

    • Randy Cantu

      Yikes, I missed that one! Thanks so much, all fixed.

  14. Matt

    Iron man with granite balls!

    Trainer then treadmill is my 20 minutes of warm up and warm down at the gym, the thought of that for 7.5 hours makes me want to cry!

  15. Ken

    Since you’re editing, Randy, “This year, CES expanded ITS physical presence”. :)

  16. Kevin in MD

    Did he take a break to pee or just go while he was on the bike?

    • Randy Cantu

      Well, there is clearly a towel under the bike in some of the photos. Just kidding. They did have to take a few liberties due to the unique nature of this event, at least until it catches on as real support and they get real rules and referees and all fancy like that. So he did rush off the bike a time or two for a quick biology break, but I have to say he was very insistent on keeping the time off to an absolute minimum.

  17. Great report! This was a fun read. :-)

    While we’re pointing out things that could be fixed in the article, though, it looks like this one didn’t get tagged with CES2015 so it doesn’t show up on the CES2015 page. Otherwise, I really enjoyed reading this one and the pictures were fabulous!

  18. KP

    I’ve done 4+ hr sessions on the Computrainer, but I didn’t have to give interviews! Great job, Tim.

  19. Great article. I love the pictures of him taking his bike up the escalator. How does he make it look so easy? I’d be sweating up a storm!

  20. Laurie

    Amazing coverage….you put in some LONG hours and intense observations. Great photos!!!!

  21. Ann

    nice photo essay, thanks….but technically isn’t it a DQ for not wearing helmet while on the bike/trainer?

  22. Aaron

    Those look like oakleys but I can’t quite pinpoint the model of sunglasses. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  23. Mark A.

    …..so what was his time? :)

    • It was 9:42, but it was somewhat scripted once he left the swim. This was primarily done to ensure media knew where he was, and as was the case – they could do a live network TV shoot of him going bike to run.

      So he altered his pace a fair bit (mostly slowing down) to keep within the established times given out to media.

    • Mark A.

      very impressive, even if scripted. I certainly couldn’t manage a 9:42.

  24. Michael Gross

    Great stuff! I love the creativity!

  25. Don Earle

    Incredible event and effort. Great coverage by DC Rainmaker as well.

  26. A nice video from Polar to accompany this post.

    link to youtu.be