Has anyone done these races before? Any advice? I did Augusta 70.3 this fall, signed up for Ironman Canada 2013, and am looking for a fun 70.3 race early in the season.
I did the full St. George Ironman twice before it was demoted to a half for this year. It's a beautiful but tough course. The swim is usually cold (60 degrees) and the bike and run are challenging with the wind and elevation. The temp can get up into the mid 90's by the afternoon as well. If you're looking for a challenging but scenic course, St. George is for you!
Just note that the timing of San Juan is mid-March, St George is early May, and Kansas is June. SJ is very early in the season, so you really need to train over the winter months. Just no way around that. I've done SJ the last 2 years, and I love the race because the venue is awesome. I may be partial b/c I'm from PR, so it's kinda my "home" race, but there are others in the club who have done it and have only positive things to say about the race. Here's my take from a triathlete and local perspective.
Think about our local water temp at Sandy Point in March, when your best wetsuit won’t cut it. The SJ70.3 swim is non wetsuit legal in a clear protected lagoon with 3-4 resident manatees. You can also spot an occasional sea star or fish.
Bike is flat along the ocean coast completely closed to traffic. If it’s blowing (you’ll know by 5am when you look at the palm trees), headwinds could be a factor on the return. You’ll likely see some drafting packs even with about 1,500 participants because the bike course has an inner loop from mile 12-20 that you do 2X, plus it is a WTC/Ironman brand race very popular among the Latin American crowd.
Beautiful run course along the ocean, city wall, and steep cobblestone sections of Old San Juan. The run is very challenging, hot, humid, and hilly. Let me repeat this again b/c you do it twice..is hot, humid, and hilly. Volunteers and crowd support are awesome. People come out of their houses and spray you with their garden hoses.
Flights cost around $350 if you get them a few months in advance. It’s the Caribbean and hotels are expensive. No way around that. This is one instance when staying at the host hotels actually makes sense. Treat it like a spring break of sorts that includes a race and you won’t regret it. Also, if you don’t prefer to haul your bike in the plane, Tribike transport has provided service the last 2 yrs. Shipping of bikes is just not an option because you’re better off buying a 1st class plane ticket for your bike.
Puerto Rico & Afterwards:
SJ has great night life, restaurants, etc. Also, you can enjoy the beaches of PR, hike in the rainforest, or kayak in the bioluminescent bay after the race. Oh, I almost forgot…when you get back, you’ll probably be the only person sporting cycling tan lines at the pool come March.
If you got any questions, feel free to send me a note. I'll be happy to help. My PR friends are lobbying me pretty hard on this one, but they keep forgetting that I need to train over the winter and for them is summer year round.
I did Kansas 70.3 last year. I grew up nearby and went to college in Lawrence so it was really fun going back.
Don't be fooled... This bike course is not flat. Not only is it hilly, it was WINDY. Just be prepared for that. Most people aren't so by mile 25 or 30, I was cruising by people who were completely dejected.
It was also a very hot day and there isn't a lot of shade on the run course. The fun part is that you run through a campground a couple of times and the support there is great. There aren't as many races in the middle of the country as we have here so people travel from CO, TX, OK, AK... all of those red states, and treat it like a weekend long tri festival. Lots of support on the run.
I would suggest this race. It's certainly probably not a destination in like Puerto Rico or St. George, but I think it's a great race to include on your schedule. The atmosphere is really what makes it.
If you are not set on an IM 70.3 race, Kinetic 1/2 is 5/11. It's local (Lake Anna, VA) and a well supported race. Lot of DC Triers do this race. I've done the 1/2 once and the sprint once. The swim was wetsuit legal. The bike course was rolling hills and no wind. The run was pretty hilly. There is a campsite right there or you can even drive from DC the morning of if you don't mind a very early morning. I plan to do the 1/2 again this year.