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3-Disciplines-Motor-City-Triathlon Course Information

June 11, 2023 7:30 am

Belle Isle, Detroit, MI
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Arguably the fastest triathlon course in the country! Dozens of athletes have broken the elusive two-hour barrier over the years for the Olympic Distance, as well as the one-hour barrier for the Sprint course.

The swim is always the question in new athlete’s minds, but it’s also why this event has grown each year, as it has almost produced a PR swim every time. The water in the Detroit River has been tested to be among the cleanest in the state. Because the water is constantly moving, you can see clear to the bottom almost 20 feet down, and you can take advantage of the current to get you your fastest swim ever.

The bike is awesome, featuring a closed course that offers some great scenery, with the large freighters floating through on the Canadian side of the island and the Detroit skyline and Ambassador Bridge on the south end. The course is flat, lightning fast and has been the site for many PR bike splits as well.



TRIATHLETES:  RUN GEAR ONLY at T-2! Swim and Bike gear at T-1.

DUATHLETES ONLY: You must keep your bike gear at T-2

This event will have two transition areas because the beach is one mile from the finish line, parking area, and T-2 located at Shelter #1.  PLEASE park at T-2/finish line, on Central.  Then go set your running gear and ride your bike to T-1.  Again PLEASE DO NOT drive down to the swim start, T-1.  We will transfer your gear from T-1 to T-2.  So when you finish it will be ready for your pick up.  It is YOUR responsibility to label your equipment bag with your name and RACE #.  We are absolutely NOT responsible for any lost items.  Do not put valuables, keys, etc, in your gear bags for transport back to T-2.  TIP:  Use a bright colored bag that sticks out.  There are 500 plus other gear bags at pick up.

Again, it is YOUR responsibility to bring a gear bag and mark it with YOUR RACE # and name.  We will not be providing bags.  Anything not put in a bag will be put in a general pile.

CHIP PICKUP will be at T-2 and Body Marking will be at T-1 near the RUN IN CHUTE.

Repeat, CHIP PICK-UP will be at T-2 (shelter #1, finish line, registration area).

Transition area #2 will be on the large cement pad in front of Shelter 1.  When arriving on the island follow signs and support crew.  Again you must park here, place your RUN gear in transition, receive your timing chip and strap, place that on your ankle immediately and head to T-1 with the rest of your race gear.  (Race Management will not be responsible for any unbagged or unclaimed race gear; please make sure your bags are marked).

Following the last athlete exiting T-1, all gear bags will be taken to the finish gear bag claim area at T-2 just past the finish line along the transition area.  You must have your race number to claim your gear bag.  Sprint athletes, please give support crew time to sort and organize bags.  To expedite loading trucks with bags, athletes should carry their own bag out of transition and toss it in the pile at exit.

Opens – 5:30 am
No friends or family members allowed in the transition area for any reason.  The race director and race officials will close the transition area 30-45 minutes before race start to ensure all athletes are at the starting area for mandatory course meeting and announcements.  Once the transition area is closed, you will NOT be permitted back in before the race starts.  Family/Friends will not be permitted in for any reason at any time throughout the event.

When the last cyclist is off the course and has headed out for the run.  This time is variable and we will make announcements at the event when the transition area is ready to re-open.

Any athletes removing gear from transition areas before the announcer or race director has officially opened the transition area will be DISQUALIFIED from the race!  This pertains to all athletes of all distances.  All athletes deserve a clear transition.

In the event of inclement weather, it is recommended you have warm, dry clothing outside the transition area to put on following your finish due to other athletes still being on the bike course.

Timing Chip
When you have completed the race, please do NOT enter the transition area wearing your timing chip.  PLEASE remove your chip before re-entering the transition area and exiting again.  This will cause a timing error.

You must rack according to your race number, based on the sequence numbers placed at the end of each row.  Please remember racks will hold 7 bikes racked with the seat tip on support bar.  Please be courteous to fellow athletes to ensure there is space for 7 bikes on a rack.  If there is not enough room for your bike on your designated rack, please see a 3D Team member and we will help.  Please do not move another athletes bike or gear.

Aid Station
Located at the run in/out chute with water and electrolyte replacement.

Run In/Out and Bike In/Out chutes are clearly marked on the large structures at either end.   It is your responsibility to go the right direction while racing in the transition area.



New for all events will be a Time Trial swim start.  For safety reasons it is important we ensure we are doing all we can to alleviate stress at the start and turning at buoys.  A time trial start ensures everyone has a clear, stress-free swim.  You will SELF SEED according to your 500m swim time.  (THIS IS YOUR ACTUAL swim time, not what you THINK you will swim, or want to swim) this is important to ensure you are not swam over or create congestion by seeding yourself faster than you can swim.  Don’t be that athlete that creates a traffic jam.  See yourself appropriately and everyone will have a great time in the water.

Each athlete will report their number to the timer before crossing the timing mats and entering the water.  Again your responsibility to report that number to the timer.

Time trial starts: Long course athletes first, followed about 30 minutes later with Sprint, then 20 minutes later Super Sprint athletes.

You will be swimming in clear, calm water between the Island and Detroit. Starting out, everyone heads to the Detroit Yacht Club, then into the current heading back south towards the Belle Isle Bridge, before making a LEFT towards shore and the swim finish. Water temps of course this time of year depend greatly on the weather. They have been as cold as 62 and as warm as 75.

The course will be patrolled by Coast Guard, and several lifeguards and police marine division. A Triangle style course for both events. Swim caps are mandatory, if you are allergic to latex, you will have to bring your own.





Exiting Transition 1 at the beach you will merge into the inside lane which will be coned all the way around the island.  You will cross over heading through the bus drop all the way around past the casino. Then you will fly onto the north end of the island in a coned closed lane. You MUST use a little extra caution at the left through the bus drop area; this will also serve as your entry to T-2 up an engineered ramp.

Super Sprint athletes will complete 1 full lap with an additional mile to get back down to Transition 2 Finish/Registration area.

Sprint athletes will complete 2 full laps with an additional mile to get back down to Transition 2 at Finish/Registration area.

Olympic Distance athletes will complete 4 full laps with an additional mile to get back down to Transition 2 Finish/Registration area.

Once you have completed your 1, 2 or 4 full laps, you will make your way onto the bus drop/Transition 2 area where you’ll see a large yellow sign with purple lettering indicating BIKE IN. You will merge up on the ramp and down into T-2. This is another slow, caution area into Transition 2. SLOWER athletes MUST stay to the right along the cones, so faster athletes are not blocked on the INSIDE of the island; this is opposite of what you’re used to. The island is flat, fast and smooth; but it often has windy conditions, being an island. It will be your responsibility to count your laps. You will enter T-2 right in front of the Fountain making a LEFT into that area.



Route map for Motor City Triathlon Bike Course by Kenny Krell on


The run course keeps the entire run course on the south end of the island.  We lose the trees in the nature path, but keeps the athletes closer for spectators as a short walk across the street from the finish puts them in a position to see runners multiple times.  Also keeps the event away from all the park users on the north end of the island.  It is a really fast, and flat course, just no shade out there.  Olympic distance athletes will loop along side the finish line for lap 2 and head back out.  

Super-Sprint athletes will do the first mile with everyone, then just past the pay station you will head across the bridge and over to the finish line.  1.5mi. 

Aid Stations: Ice Cold Water, Gatorade Endurance Formula at each mile.



You will start with your specific swim wave. Check the information cube at the event for wave start information.

You will complete the Swim and Bike disciplines of the event. Following your Bike discipline, you will dismount your bike, cross the Bike In timing mats and place your bike back at your spot on the rack in the Transition Area.  You will then proceed across the Run Out timing mats and you are done! Your finish time will be when you cross the timing mats at that point.

DO NOT re-enter the transition area through Run In/Out or Bike In/Out. This will cause a timing error.

Finisher Memento 
If the event offers a finisher’s memento, please proceed to the finish area to receive the item. Tell the support crew at the finish line you were in the aquabike race and they will hand you the finishers memento.

You will keep your timing chip & strap on until all the bikes are off the course. Once we announce the transition is open, you may turn your chip & strap in at the designated collection point and retrieve your gear at that point.

Super Sprint TRI

One of the first to launch the Super Sprint back in 2014, the goal with it was to provide an intro to Triathlon.  No matter your age, 6 yrs to 80+ yrs. the final wave of the day to start gets you out of the chaos of the start, and keeps you with like-minded athletes.  A perfect introductory distance that we try to keep non-competitive with no awards, but of course, everyone gets a finisher medal.  Come on out and Try your first TRI.  Questions, don’t hesitate, any question is a good question!

200m swim – your swim will always start following the final sprint athlete in every super sprint event.  These will be an out to the first buoy, over and in.

10k  bike – will be an out and back.  Following all signs indicating SUPER

1 mile run – will be an out and back as well.  Following all signs indicating SUPER


Starting with a 2.5k run.  FIRST and Most Important: this is a 2 transition event, so you MUST leave your BIKE GEAR and 2nd Run Gear at TRANSITION 2 (finish line, checkin area) not at the beach!!  

You will start at the Duathlon start flag across the street from the beach and Transition 1 on the corner.  About 5-10 minutes before your start announcements will be made to report to the start flag where the Run Course coordinator will be waiting to give you further instructions.  He/She will lead out the first run, which will take you back down to Transition 2, where you will head into transition and out on the bike course.  You will complete 2 loops of the island before heading back into Transition 2 again, where you will grab your run gear for the final 5k.  

Again, make sure you leave your bike and run #2 gear at the finish / Transition 2.  Do not take it down to the beach.  Then report to the start at the beach by 7:00 a.m.

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