I'm about to pull the trigger on a late season half ironman distance race, and I've narrowed it down to these two local races. I want a challenging and fun course, well organized, and competitive field to race against. It will be my first half-iron distance race, but I've done several olympic distance races over the past few years.
If you have any experience with either of these races, please post up what you think I should sign up for. Thanks in advance!
I raced Half Full its first year. Rough bike and run course - think Columbia x2. To my advantage, the swim is only 1,500 meters, not 1.2 miles. It was well organized race. Although the weather was a little chilly for the swim & bike.
I raced Half Full last year (2011) and thought it was a phenomenal race. Smaller in size and with great support and set-up. It has definately grown for 2012 because it is now the collegiate national championship race and a "Rev 3," but I hands down would choose this race still. Both races have hilly (aka challenging) bike and run legs. Yes, risk of cold rainy weather that weekend no matter what but because of that Poconos is a higher risk for problems....they had to cancel the swim last year due to river flooding, re-route the bike course due to flooded areas of the roads and as a side note some of the surfaces on the roads of that course are not all that great. Half Full is in Centennial park lake so less risk of cancelling the swim even with rain and good surfaces on the roads all the way. Another con to Poconos is that they are strict in drafting enforcement, lots of penalties handed out last year. That's my two cents, I vote HALF FULL. Plus it's for a good cause!
Just wanted to weigh in on some comments regarding this discussion. I have not done Half Full so I can't really comment here except that it is two loops of the Columbia course. If you have done the club's Brick Nic or Columbia Triathlon, you have an idea of the course. The lake is definitely not a favorite and the run is supposed to be very hilly (as is the bike). Rev3 seems to put on a good race so this is a bonus.
But I did want to offer some insight into the Poconos HIM. I spoke with the race director at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler Expo and because of the concerns from last year, they have completely revamped the course. While the swim was cancelled, the race still went one despite a hurricane. Many other races in the area didn't even hold their events.
The swim is now in a fresh water lake (not the Delaware Water Gap Damn so there is much less risk of flooding as before). The bike course is brand new and they have made it a lot less hilly as before. The first 23 miles are going to be closed to traffic as you wind through a beautiful state park, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. So essentially 40% of the roads are closed for the bike and they are now on good, newly paved surfaces. The run is through a small town, Stroudsbourgh, which has a much flatter run course than Half Full. In the end, I think Poconos HIM ends up being a flatter, faster course now than Half Full HIM. It is also a Ironman branded race which makes for an energized first half Ironman experience.
Hope this gives you pros and cons of each race.
You won't have travel expenses if you do the Half Full - nothing like sleeping in your own bed too.