Below is a template for how to write a race report (or how not to—your choice). With yesterday’s Ironman 70.3 Victoria fresh in my mind, I wrote it with triathlons in mind, but it could be applied to anything from ultramarathons to beer miles. Follow these simple guidelines and I promise you’ll be a famous triathlon blogger in no time.*
- Length: 500 – 5,000 words, depending on the size and scale of the race, where it fits in your overall season plan (“D” race, “C” race, “B” race, etc), and/or generally how much time you have on your hands to blog/self-indulge/analyze/share
- Photography: Inclusion of professional-level photography is preferred
- Marketing: Make sure to promote your report on FB/Insta/Twitter, with the appropriate hashtags, to ensure your post reaches the largest audience
- Caveat: If you’ve PB’d by over 10 minutes or qualified for a world championship, you are exempt from these guidelines and are free to write as much and whatever your well-deserving little heart desires. The Internet will forgive you.
Begin your post by explaining why you decided on that particular race, how much you trained leading up to it, and if you are a really public person (nevermind, question answered) your time goals. Otherwise, just say you’re going out to “have fun” and that should cover any result from a DNF to an overall amateur win/KQ.
This section can include, but is not limited to, the following: Travel to the race (i.e. “this was the first time I took a boat to a race!” etc.); taper complaining (how you were hangry and jittery the whole week but WOW you got so much work done! etc); updates on injury status (“that darned glute again”); pre-race logistical issues; famous triathlon blogger and/or pro sightings/hang-outs; and a few words on the huge crew that came along to support you. Conclude with day-before prep schedule and something along the lines of, “We had sushi with some friends and it was lights out by 8:30.”
- Phrases: “I’m just training through this one.” “I don’t really have any goals.” “I’m trying out a new nutrition/watts/heart rate strategy.” “I have a new coach, so…” (All of which come in handy if your race went south.)
- Photos of stretching/rolling apparatus (option for gear/sponsor plug) ∗ taper smoothies (option for sponsor plug ∗ carefully stylized photos of all your gear laid out on the floor ∗ food porn of delicious carbohydrates consumed ∗ selfies with your awesome new kit (option for sponsor plug) ∗ motivational quotes and/or memes
Begin these sections with your split and AG positioning so your reader doesn’t have to go look it up, and if you’re really nice, your corresponding pacing. If you’re worried about looking narcissistic, don’t worry, that’s already been taken care of. From there, yes, we know you got up really really early and probably ate something weird, so unless you can narrate it in a new and interesting way, just cut to the chase: Explain how this particular race started (mass, wave, rolling), and what you did or did not like about it. You can include the temperature, position of the sun, your goggle/wetsuit choice (sponsor plugs here), and your strategy, if you had one. Include any new and interesting information that will help readers decipher anomalies, like your 25-minute swim: i.e.”Beaver Lake had too many weeds so they shortened the swim to 1500 meters.” Done.
- Photos of the time your alarm went off ∗ coffee in dark hotel rooms ∗ the sunrise ∗ your transition area ∗ transition selfies (keep to a maximum of 2, you’ll have a lot of space for photos to come) ∗ awkward looking photos of you ripping off your goggles (if you can get them, or brought a media crew/personal photographer with you)
- Racing tips for that particular race: i.e.: “If this race is featuring a self-seeded rolling start, get to the lake shore early so you don’t get stuck with the slower swimmers and spend the entire swim dodging bodies.” (These also help subtly convey that you would’ve been so much faster if…always helpful in a race report.)
Again, begin with your split/AG position/notable points of pride (i.e. “fastest AG bike split”), etc. Feel free to get a little more technical in this section (i.e. watts, heart rate, RPE) so that your reader can see if he or she is training/racing as hard as you are. Then, walk your reader through the motions: “I ran into transition, ripped off my wetsuit, and grabbed my (insert bike make/model/option for sponsor plug here).” Cover how you felt, broken up by mile/kilometer sections, including your precise bike nutrition (i.e: “For this race I went with Skratch Matcha (my favorite), plus one GoMacro bar, 2 Endurobars, and 1 Untapped gel for 800 calories/200 grams of carbs.”) Option for nutrition, bike, helmet, or other bike-related sponsor plugs (if you don’t have sponsors, you should really rethinking why you have a triathlon blog at all.)
- Photos: Hopefully you brought said media crew, otherwise your readers will be very bored at this point
- If your bike split didn’t meet your goal, explain why from the following list of options: Flat, gears didn’t work, brake pads rubbing, bad tune-up, Di2 not charged, crash. “I just didn’t have the legs” also works well here, as well as citing “going too hard” in a previous race or workout.
Again, please state your run split/AG position, as well as your overall split/position. Walk us through bike racking, lacing up of your Hokas/Saucony’s/Asics/Nike ______’s, and grabbing of necessary bibs, gels, sunglasses, hats, etc. (Sponsor plugs galore.) Elaborate on the course itself to paint a picture (i.e. “the Victoria run goes around the lake twice and is on hard-packed trail, while being completely shaded, which I loved.”) Give insights into how you felt physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, or, if you’re not a poet, pacing and/or running form lessons that will make us all faster runners will do.
- Photos: See above for media crew comment
- Potential qualifiers/reasons for a less-than-ideal run (aka non-AG podium) result: Harder/hillier course than you thought, sick, injured, overtrained, undertrained, last-minute decision to race, not your “A” race, etc.
State whether you set a PB, reasons why you did or didn’t (see below), and whether you fulfilled your pre-race goals of just having “fun.” (Actually, if you didn’t have fun, maybe save it for a coffee date with an in-person friend.) Include insights either into your soul and personality, poetic musings about what the race meant to you (i.e. “Even though I’m still frustrated by my run, I was proud of my bike split and it was invigorating to be racing again in such a beautiful place with new friends.”) Finish off with “huge shout-outs/gratitude/love” to friends, partners (“sherpa extraordinaire” usually works well here), supporters, coaches, and your final sponsor plugs. Usually begins with “This day would not have been possible without X,Y,Z, but in more humble renditions, a simple “Thanks to _____ ” will suffice. Finish off with what the coming week will hold (vacation plans are popular add-ins here), before closing with “then it’s back to work for [insert next race here]” to show how unrelenting you are in your pursuit of athletic excellence. Finis.
- Photos: See above for media crew (stealing one from the race photographer’s website is not cool) ∗ podium shots ∗ post-race food ∗ post-race hang outs ∗ finisher medal ∗ sweaty kit ∗ beer ∗ ice cream/other rare indulgences
- If you’re super humble, can add qualifiers to a great result (“I had to race some super-fast girls like _____ who kept me fighting all day”), or pick from the following reasons for a less-than-ideal (aka non AG podium-ing) result: Harder/hillier course than you thought, sick, injured, overtrained, undertrained, last-minute decision to race, not your “A” race, etc.
*In case anyone misinterprets my attempt at satire here, as a satirist I admire once wrote, “I only make fun of what I love.” And obviously, I love race reports, each of which contains at least one example from the above. Often I just skim, but if they’re funny and well-written, or the person writing them is simply lovely, as many of the ones I read are, I don’t care if they’re 500 words or 5,000. I’ll keep reading.